Montana Natural Heritage Program

East Missoula, MT, United States

Montana Natural Heritage Program

East Missoula, MT, United States
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Stagliano D.M.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Western North American Naturalist | Year: 2016

The Bedford springsnail (Pyrgulopsis bedfordensis) is one of only 2 species of the genus Pyrgulopsis discovered east of the northern Continental Divide and appears restricted to one spring in central Montana. Due to its endemism, this species was placed on the Montana Species of Concern list as S1, critically imperiled. Despite the snail's rarity, nothing was known of this population's characteristics; it was last sampled in 1999. In 2015, I quantitatively sampled this population using a Hess sampler (n = 3) over a 40-m reach to determine the snail's benthic density and describe the associated macroinvertebrate community. Average densities of the springsnail were 30,540 live individuals per m2 (SE 2625) and 17,353 empty shells per m2 (SE 1389). Other benthic macroinvertebrates collected with the springsnail (11 taxa [SE 1.5]) were comparatively low in abundance, averaging 1533 individuals per m2 (SE 274). The Bedford springsnail population density at this Montana site ranks among one of the highest reported among its conspecifics.


Stagliano D.M.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Western North American Naturalist | Year: 2016

Montana is home to 133 documented species of mayflies (Insecta: Ephemeroptera) from 55 genera in 16 families. This study reports on the conservation status, critical habitat, and management needs of 7 mayfly species that are currently listed as Montana species of concern (SOC) and 2 species that are currently listed as potential species of concern (PSOC). Six (67%) of these listed mayflies (Anepeorus rusticus, Analetris eximia, Homoeoneuria alleni, Lachlania saskatchewanensis, Macdunnoa nipawinia, and Raptoheptagenia cruentata) are associated with the sand and gravel benthic habitats of large prairie rivers. Two other mayfly species, Caurinella idahoensis (SOC) and Caudatella edmundsi (PSOC), are associated with small, densely forested streams of the Northern Rocky Mountain Refugium area of the Montana and Idaho border. Distributional data provided for Ametropus neavei (Ametropodidae) and Pseudiron centralis (Pseudironidae) may warrant these species being added to the SOC list. Records of the newest mayfly species recorded in Montana, Cercobrachys cree, are also discussed.


McKnight K.P.,Michigan State University | Messina J.P.,Michigan State University | Shortridge A.M.,Michigan State University | Burns M.D.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Pigozzi B.W.,Michigan State University
International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research | Year: 2011

West Nile Virus is a vector-borne flavivirus that affects mainly birds, horses, and humans. The disease emerged in the United States in 1999 and by 2001 had reached Michigan. In clinical human cases, the most common symptoms are fever, weakness, nausea, headache, and changes in mental state. The crow is the most common wildlife host in the life cycle of the virus. The state of Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Community Health, collected the spatial locations of over 8,000 dead birds (Corvidae), statewide, during 2002. The large number of samples made spatial and temporal hotspot detection possible. However, the volunteer reporting method produced a dataset with a direct correlation between the numbers and locations of the dead birds and human population density and accurately identifying hotspots remains a challenge. Geographic variation in dead bird intensity was modeled using both global and local spatial clustering algorithms. Statistical models identified overall spatial structure and local clustering. Identification of hotspots was confounded by limited information about the collection procedures, data availability and quality, and the limitations of each method. Copyright © 2011, IGI Global.


McCaffery R.M.,University of Montana | Eby L.A.,University of Montana | Maxell B.A.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Corn P.S.,U.S. Geological Survey
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Environmental stochasticity can have profound effects on the dynamics and viability of wild populations, and habitat heterogeneity provides one mechanism by which populations may be buffered against the negative effects of environmental fluctuations. Heterogeneity in breeding pond hydroperiod across the landscape may allow amphibian populations to persist despite variable interannual precipitation. We examined recruitment dynamics over 10. yr in a high-elevation Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) population that breeds in ponds with a variety of hydroperiods. We combined these data with matrix population models to quantify the consequences of heterogeneity in pond hydroperiod on net recruitment (i.e. number of metamorphs produced) and population growth rates. We compared our heterogeneous system to hypothetical homogeneous environments with (1) only ephemeral ponds, (2) only semi-permanent ponds, and (3) only permanent ponds. We also examined the effects of breeding pond habitat loss on population growth rates. Most eggs were laid in permanent ponds each year, but survival to metamorphosis was highest in the semi-permanent ponds. Recruitment success varied by both year and pond type. Net recruitment and stochastic population growth rate were highest under a scenario with homogeneous semi-permanent ponds, but variability in recruitment was lowest in the scenario with the observed heterogeneity in hydroperiods. Loss of pond habitat decreased population growth rate, with greater decreases associated with loss of permanent and semi-permanent habitat. The presence of a diversity of pond hydroperiods on the landscape will influence population dynamics, including reducing variability in recruitment in an uncertain climatic future. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Towler E.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | Saab V.A.,Rocky Research | Sojda R.S.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Dickinson K.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Given the projected threat that climate change poses to biodiversity, the need for proactive response efforts is clear. However, integrating uncertain climate change information into conservation planning is challenging, and more explicit guidance is needed. To this end, this article provides a specific example of how a risk-based approach can be used to incorporate a species' response to climate into conservation decisions. This is shown by taking advantage of species' response (i.e., impact) models that have been developed for a well-studied bird species of conservation concern. Specifically, we examine the current and potential impact of climate on nest survival of the Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) in two different habitats. To address climate uncertainty, climate scenarios are developed by manipulating historical weather observations to create ensembles (i.e., multiple sequences of daily weather) that reflect historical variability and potential climate change. These ensembles allow for a probabilistic evaluation of the risk posed to Lewis's Woodpecker nest survival and are used in two demographic analyses. First, the relative value of each habitat is compared in terms of nest survival, and second, the likelihood of exceeding a critical population threshold is examined. By embedding the analyses in a risk framework, we show how management choices can be made to be commensurate with a defined level of acceptable risk. The results can be used to inform habitat prioritization and are discussed in the context of an economic framework for evaluating tradeoffs between management alternatives. © The Author(s) 2012.


Sugita S.,Tallinn University | Parshall T.,Westfield State College | Calcote R.,University of Minnesota | Walker K.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Quaternary Research | Year: 2010

The Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm (LRA) overcomes some of the fundamental problems in pollen analysis for quantitative reconstruction of vegetation. LRA first uses the REVEALS model to estimate regional vegetation using pollen data from large sites and then the LOVE model to estimate vegetation composition within the relevant source area of pollen (RSAP) at small sites by subtracting the background pollen estimated from the regional vegetation composition. This study tests LRA using training data from forest hollows in northern Michigan (35 sites) and northwestern Wisconsin (43 sites). In northern Michigan, surface pollen from 152-ha and 332-ha lakes is used for REVEALS. Because of the lack of pollen data from large lakes in northwestern Wisconsin, we use pollen from 21 hollows randomly selected from the 43 sites for REVEALS. RSAP indirectly estimated by LRA is comparable to the expected value in each region. A regression analysis and permutation test validate that the LRA-based vegetation reconstruction is significantly more accurate than pollen percentages alone in both regions. Even though the site selection in northwestern Wisconsin is not ideal, the results are robust. The LRA is a significant step forward in quantitative reconstruction of vegetation. © 2010 University of Washington.


Pilliod D.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Hossack B.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Bahls P.F.,Northwest Watershed Institute | Bull E.L.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 5 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2010

Aim The introduction of non-native species into aquatic environments has been linked with local extinctions and altered distributions of native species. We investigated the effect of non-native salmonids on the occupancy of two native amphibians, the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) and Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris), across three spatial scales: water bodies, small catchments and large catchments.Location Mountain lakes at ≥ 1500 m elevation were surveyed across the northern Rocky Mountains, USA.Methods We surveyed 2267 water bodies for amphibian occupancy (based on evidence of reproduction) and fish presence between 1986 and 2002 and modelled the probability of amphibian occupancy at each spatial scale in relation to habitat availability and quality and fish presence.Results After accounting for habitat features, we estimated that A. macrodactylum was 2.3 times more likely to breed in fishless water bodies than in water bodies with fish. Ambystoma macrodactylum also was more likely to occupy small catchments where none of the water bodies contained fish than in catchments where at least one water body contained fish. However, the probability of salamander occupancy in small catchments was also influenced by habitat availability (i.e. the number of water bodies within a catchment) and suitability of remaining fishless water bodies. We found no relationship between fish presence and salamander occupancy at the large-catchment scale, probably because of increased habitat availability. In contrast to A. macrodactylum, we found no relationship between fish presence and R. luteiventris occupancy at any scale.Main conclusions Our results suggest that the negative effects of non-native salmonids can extend beyond the boundaries of individual water bodies and increase A. macrodactylum extinction risk at landscape scales. We suspect that niche overlap between non-native fish and A. macrodactylum at higher elevations in the northern Rocky Mountains may lead to extinction in catchments with limited suitable habitat. © 2010.


Pilliod D.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Arkle R.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Maxell B.A.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Biological Invasions | Year: 2013

Studies have demonstrated negative effects of non-native, predatory fishes on native amphibians, yet it is still unclear why some amphibian populations persist, while others are extirpated, following fish invasion. We examined this question by developing habitat-based occupancy models for the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) and non-native fish using survey data from 1,749 water bodies across 470 catchments in the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA. We first modeled the habitat associations of salamanders at 468 fishless water bodies in 154 catchments where non-native fish were historically, and are currently, absent from the entire catchment. We then applied this habitat model to the complete data set to predict the probability of salamander occupancy in each water body, removing any effect of fish presence. Finally, we compared field-observed occurrences of salamanders and fish to modeled probability of salamander occupancy. Suitability models indicated that fish and salamanders had similar habitat preferences, possibly resulting in extirpations of salamander populations from entire catchments where suitable habitats were limiting. Salamanders coexisted with non-native fish in some catchments by using marginal quality, isolated (no inlet or outlet) habitats that remained fishless. They rarely coexisted with fish within individual water bodies and only where habitat quality was highest. Connectivity of water bodies via streams resulted in increased probability of fish invasion and consequently reduced probability of salamander occupancy. These results could be used to identify and prioritize catchments and water bodies where control measures would be most effective at restoring amphibian populations. Our approach could be useful as a framework for improved investigations into questions of persistence and extirpation of native species when non-native species have already become established. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA).


Sepulveda A.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Layhee M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Stagliano D.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Chaffin J.,Bureau of Land Management Montana Dakotas State Office | And 2 more authors.
Aquatic Invasions | Year: 2015

The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is a globally distributed invasive species that was introduced to the Yellowstone River floodplain of Montana. Knowledge about floodplain habitat features that allow for bullfrog persistence and spread will help identify effective control strategies. We used field surveys in 2010, 2012 and 2013 to describe bullfrog spread in the Yellowstone River floodplain and the habitat features that are associated with bullfrog occupancy and colonization. Bullfrogs in our study area expanded from ~ 60 km in 2010 to 106 km in 2013, and are spreading to up- and downstream habitats. The number of breeding sites (i.e., presence of bullfrog eggs or larvae) increased from 12 sites in 2010 to 45 sites in 2013. We found that bullfrogs were associated with deeper waters, emergent vegetation and public-access sites, which are habitat features that characterize permanent waters and describe human-mediated introductions. Control strategies that reduce the hydroperiod of breeding sites may help to limit bullfrog persistence and spread, while an increase in public outreach and education may help prevent further bullfrog introductions at public-access sites. © 2015 The Author(s).


Peterson P.M.,Smithsonian Institution | Romaschenko K.,Smithsonian Institution | Romaschenko K.,Botanic Institute of Barcelona CSIC ICUB | Snow N.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Johnson G.,Smithsonian Institution
Annals of Botany | Year: 2012

Background and AimsLeptochloa (including Diplachne) sensu lato (s.l.) comprises a diverse assemblage of C4 (NAD-ME and PCK) grasses with approx. 32 annual or perennial species. Evolutionary relationships and a modern classification of Leptochloa spp. based on the study of molecular characters have only been superficially investigated in four species. The goals of this study were to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Leptochloa s.l. with molecular data and broad taxon sampling. MethodsA phylogenetic analysis was conducted of 130 species (mostly Chloridoideae), of which 22 are placed in Leptochloa, using five plastid (rpL32-trn-L, ndhA intron, rps16 intron, rps16-trnK and ccsA) and the nuclear ITS 1 and 2 (ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions) to infer evolutionary relationships and revise the classification. Key resultsLeptochloa s.l. is polyphyletic and strong support was found for five lineages. Embedded within the Leptochloa sensu stricto (s.s.) clade are two Trichloris spp. and embedded in Dinebra are Drake-brockmania and 19 Leptochloa spp. ConclusionsThe molecular results support the dissolution of Leptochloa s.l. into the following five genera: Dinebra with 23 species, Diplachne with two species, Disakisperma with three species, Leptochloa s.s. with five species and a new genus, Trigonochloa, with two species. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.

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