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Independence, KS, United States

Parks and Tourism

Independence, KS, United States
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News Article | August 2, 2017

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- The food web in Great Plains streams could be unraveling, according to a Kansas State University ecologist. Keith Gido, professor of biology, and Josh Perkin, a Kansas State University alumnus, recently published "Groundwater declines are linked to changes in Great Plains stream fish assemblages" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research maps the loss of stream habitat for many small fish in the Great Plains region and attributes it to declining groundwater sources. "This is one of the first examples that links groundwater depletion to changes in the biotic communities of the river," Gido said. "We've lost more than 350 miles of stream in the last 65 years because of a reduction in the groundwater, and we expect we will lose another 180 miles of stream by 2060." According to the research, the reduction of the region's streams is changing the fish community. Several species of fish that were once plentiful in the Great Plains and serve an important role in the food web are no longer found in the area. "One of our main findings is a transformation of the fish community," Gido said. "We are seeing fish communities change from species that are adapted to large, free-flowing rivers to species that occupy small streams with isolated habitats." The fish that have already been lost or are most at risk in Kansas streams include the plains minnow and the shoal chub. Even several species such as the red shiner and sand shiner, which were thought to be plentiful, are declining as a result of reduced stream habitat, according to Perkin, who was the lead researcher for the study and is now an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. "Not only have today's rare fish -- once common in Kansas -- continued to decline, but we also found evidence that the fish that are common today may become rare fish in the future if this problem isn't addressed," Perkin said. Gido said that even though the fish documented as declining in the study may not have sport fish status like walleye and bass, these smaller fish still have great importance in the diversity and food web of Kansas streams. "Many of the species that we documented in this paper are not used for recreational purposes but are still an important part of the ecosystem," Gido said. "The larger predators that more humans enjoy for recreational fishing might have some dependency on those smaller species and the consequences of losing those species are very uncertain." All species of at-risk fish prefer larger, fast-flowing waters and reproduce by spawning above the riverbed so the eggs float downstream. The 2011 and 2012 droughts combined with decreasing groundwater that feeds the streams and many dams have changed the fish habitat and prevent fish from swimming back upstream to start the reproductive cycle over again, Gido said. Gido, Perkin and their colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Westar Energy and The Nature Conservancy used groundwater well data from the 1950s to 2010 to track the rate of change in the water table of the High Plains Aquifer. They compared it to the historic record of how the fish community has changed at the same time. From there, they were able to calculate predictions for the next 50 years. Other biologists in the region have documented similar patterns of change. Ryan Waters, stream ecologist with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, has pictures taken several decades apart of a northwest Kansas section of the Arikaree River, which was included in the study. Waters' photos compared to a photo before 1990 from Suzanne Collins, professional wildlife photographer, show a wide river before 1990, a narrower river in 1996 and no water in 2006. According to Gido, the decreased flow in the streams like the Arikaree is attributed to a depleted aquifer, or water table, in the Great Plains. "When the elevation of the water table is higher than the elevation of the stream, water flows from the water table into the stream and it maintains water in that stream," Gido said. "When the elevation of that water table drops below the elevation of the stream, then the water moves from the stream into the ground. During droughts it's much more likely that streams will dry up completely if the water table also is low." Gido and his students are trying to help the species overcome difficulties. They have worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the city of Wichita to evaluate the use of fish ladders at dams that allow fish to swim upstream. Gido also has consulted with the Kansas Aquatic Biodiversity Center at the Farlington Fish Hatchery near Girard as the hatchery begins breeding some of the most threatened species to stock Kansas streams and rivers, much like agencies already do for sport fish. "My career has shifted to where I'm really trying to use our research to facilitate these conservation actions on the ground," Gido said. "We still do our research but at the end of the day, to sleep well at night, it really helps me feel like I've done something important if I'm helping with conservation, too."

Pool D.B.,Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory | Panjabi A.O.,Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory | Macias-Duarte A.,Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory | Macias-Duarte A.,University of Sonora | Solhjem D.M.,Parks and Tourism
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Grasslands are one of the most imperiled ecosystems worldwide. Conversion to cropland and desertification, including shrub encroachment, are primary factors behind the loss of temperate grasslands across the globe. Governments and conservation organizations in North America have identified the highest priority grasslands from Canada to Mexico in an effort to conserve grassland biodiversity, particularly migratory birds. Twenty-nine of 33 (88%) grassland-obligate bird species breeding in western North America's Great Plains are migratory and 90% of these overwinter in the Chihuahuan Desert. The 2.7. M. ha Valles Centrales is a region of northern Mexico comprised of desert shrublands, mountains and grassland valleys. It supports wintering populations of 28 migratory grassland bird species from the Great Plains, in addition to threatened and endangered species in Mexico such as Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis), Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana mexicana) and others. Using remote sensing, we documented a 6.04% annual rate of cropland expansion in the Valles Centrales from 2006 to 2011, resulting in a loss of 69,240. ha of valley-bottom grasslands and shrub lands. Open grasslands are the principle habitat for most declining, grassland-obligate bird species. Expansion of center-pivot irrigated cropland was the primary driver of grassland loss. The area cleared for agriculture, as determined via remote sensing, exceeded the amount of land that had been permitted for land-use change to cropland, according to government records, by >2000%. As a consequence of this habitat loss, we estimate the winter carrying capacity for 28 species of grassland birds in this region has been reduced by approximately 355,142 individual birds. At the current rate, the ongoing expansion of ground-water irrigated cropland could eliminate the remaining low-slope valley bottom grasslands from the Valles Centrales region by 2025. Cumulative grassland losses in the Chihuahuan Desert could have severe impacts on global populations of declining migratory grassland birds, as well as several threatened and endangered species. Our findings demand an urgent call to action by governments and responsible resource management agencies to work with the agricultural sectors to address land use change, sustainable agriculture and grassland ecosystem services in this globally-important region for grassland birds and biodiversity. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

News Article | November 28, 2016

With the holiday shopping season upon us and a new year just around the corner, many people will begin looking for ways to move more and eat less. Some of those people will turn to activity trackers to help them achieve their goals. While critics have debated the effectiveness of activity trackers, a recent study by faculty in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington found activity trackers can work, if paired with wellness coaching. The study was published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal. "There is a lot of information out there about people not using activity trackers, but we think that is because the people using them need support," said Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, senior lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and co-author of the study. "We found that a combination of giving someone the device and then pairing them with someone who can help them learn how to use it actually works." The study, co-authored by Brian Kiessling, associate instructor and Ph.D. student within the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, focused on how people regard activity trackers, how the trackers affect behavior, and how they can be effectively integrated into programs that help people increase movement in their lives. Kennedy-Armbruster and Kiessling used two years' worth of data collected from IU's Ready to Move program, which pairs students with IU employees. The student/employee teams meet a minimum of eight times during a 10-week period for coaching sessions, and participants are given a Fitbit to help track their movement. Over the two-year span, 173 IU employees participated -- 152 women and 21 men. Coaches focused, in part, on how activity trackers affected participants' behaviors in combination with student coaching. Throughout each 10-week period, the student coaches helped participants establish a baseline number for the amount of steps they would like to achieve in a day. Participants then tracked their movement using a Fitbit, gradually increasing their goals and therefore their movement throughout the day. According to a pre-program survey, 83 percent of participants had used a tracking device before, most using a pedometer. In that survey, participants said they believed an activity tracker could help serve as a motivator and reminder to move. At the end of the 10 weeks, participants said the activity trackers did serve as a reminder and motivator and were easy to use. Ninety-three percent of participants also agreed that working with a student coach helped them develop effective health and fitness goals, and 90 percent agreed that a combination of that coaching and a fitness tracker helped them sustain their health goals after coaching ended. By combining coaching with the device, Kiessling said many employees were able to view movement outside the traditional idea of exercise involving a gym, strenuous cardio and weight lifting. The trackers allowed them to visibly see how everyday movement counts, which resulted in employees finding creative ways to take additional movement breaks throughout the day. "We relieved a lot of stress for people," Kiessling said. "Participants would say 'I drive by that fitness center every day and I feel bad.' But this program helped them realize they can do this on their own during the day. It opened up a whole new way of thinking about movement. The activity tracker, in combination with the support from their coaches, really made that possible."

Eder B.L.,Nebraska Game and Parks Commission | Neely B.C.,Parks and Tourism
Fisheries | Year: 2013

Use of geographic information systems (GIS) in fisheries science has increased in prevalence since its introduction in the late 1980s, but use among and within fisheries management agencies has not been quantified. We surveyed 89 administrators of fisheries management agencies in the United States and Canada to determine the current status of GIS in fisheries management and received 54 responses (61% return rate). Survey respondents indicated that GIS was used to help manage fish populations, and 63% of respondents believed that GIS was either "very useful" or "extremely useful" for meeting agency objectives. However, most GIS work conducted by fisheries management agencies was executed by few individuals within the agency or by contracted service. Barriers preventing more widespread use by managers within agencies included lack of knowledge or training and limited time to use GIS in job duties. Our results suggest that GIS is an important tool for fisheries management. Further, GIS use within an agency might be increased by focusing on increased biologist participation in training exercises, integration with existing job duties, and recognizing diversity among GIS software. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Geographic information systems (GIS) are powerful tools for analysis and interpretation of spatial data commonly encountered in fisheries science. We presented details of GIS use in fisheries management in a prior study and found cost to be a factor limiting GIS use. This article introduces fisheries managers to free or open-source GIS. Free or open-source GIS are readily available, powerful tools capable of performing a variety of spatial analyses. We strongly encourage managers wishing to perform spatial analyses, but who are unable to purchase software, to consider free GIS. © 2015, American Fisheries Society.

Hamel M.J.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | Koch J.D.,Parks and Tourism | Steffensen K.D.,Nebraska Game and Parks Commission | Pegg M.A.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | And 2 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences | Year: 2014

Long-lived species from marine and freshwater environments have experienced declines linked to anthropogenic effects such as overexploitation, dam construction, and habitat modification. An understanding of the age structure and the associated dynamics determined from these data for long-lived species is critical for both perseverance of at-risk species and maintenance of exploited species. We used pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) to evaluate the efficacy of mark-recapture data from known-age, hatchery-reared fish (ages 1 to 7) to corroborate age and growth estimates obtained from sectioned pectoral fin rays. Accuracy of age estimates from known-age fish was 13%, whereas 72% of estimates were within 2 years of the true age. Annual growth was significantly different between estimated growth (back-calculated) and actual observations of tagged pallid sturgeon. Age for pallid sturgeon of any given size was estimated with parameters derived from mark-recapture data, and the predicted length-at-age relation was similar to observations from known individuals. In instances where age determination for all ages of interest cannot be verified, mark-recapture appears to be a viable solution for examining growth and has shown promise as a tool for estimating ages in long-lived species with calcified structures that are difficult to read.

McCluskey E.M.,Ohio State University | Bender D.,Parks and Tourism
Journal of Herpetology | Year: 2015

Understanding how habitat heterogeneity influences the genetic structure of populations is an important goal of conservation genetics. Species with different evolutionary histories may respond differently to contemporary habitat loss and fragmentation. Recent genetic analyses have shown high levels of genetic structure in two subspecies of Massasauga Rattlesnakes of conservation concern (Eastern Massasaugas, Sistrurus catenatus catenatus and Desert Massasaugas, Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii) living in highly fragmented habitats. Here, we complement those results with an analysis of the genetic structure of the third subspecies (Western Massasaugas, Sistrurus catenatus tergeminus), which has a largely continuous distribution in Kansas but with some isolated populations in Missouri. We found no evidence of genetic structure among the Kansas populations of Western Massasaugas, though our STRUCTURE analysis did identify the two Missouri populations as distinct clusters from each other and from the Kansas populations. Population differentiation estimates were much lower across all Western Massasauga populations compared to those observed in Eastern and Desert Massasaugas. Quantitative analyses of habitat availability and fragmentation confirm that the Kansas landscape is less fragmented than the range occupied by Eastern Massasaugas; this supports a possible influence of habitat fragmentation on genetic structure of these snakes. The more-continuous distribution and relative genetic uniformity of Western Massasaugas found in Kansas contrast with the isolated nature of Desert and Eastern Massasaugas, making the Western subspecies unique within the Massasauga complex. © 2015 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.

McNew L.B.,Montana State University | Winder V.L.,Benedictine College | Pitman J.C.,Parks and Tourism | Sandercock B.K.,Kansas State University
Rangeland Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

Population declines of grassland birds over the past 30 yr have followed the widespread implementation of intensive rangeland management practices that create homogenous grassland habitats. Patch-burn grazing (PBG) was tested as an alternative management technique that is ecologically similar to historically heterogeneous fire and grazing regimes and holds promise as a rangeland management tool that may benefit grassland wildlife. We conducted a 3-year study to compare nest-site selection and nest survival of greater prairie-chickens, an umbrella species for tallgrass prairie conservation, on private lands managed with PBG or intensive fire and grazing in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The goal of our field study was to evaluate the relationships among rangeland management practices, habitat conditions, and nesting ecology of greater prairie-chickens. Nest-site selection and nest survival of prairie-chickens were both directly related to vertical nesting cover, which was determined by the fire return interval of a pasture. Nesting habitat was affected little by stocking rate in PBG management regimes because preferred nest sites were unburned patches that were not grazed by cattle. Overall, the quantity and quality of nesting sites was improved under PBG management when compared with more intensive rangeland management regimes. Our results join a growing body of evidence that rangeland management strategies that mimic historical heterogeneous fire and grazing regimes benefit native species of prairie wildlife. © 2015 Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Neely B.C.,Parks and Tourism | Koch J.D.,South Tourism | Colvin M.E.,Mississippi State University
North American Journal of Fisheries Management | Year: 2016

Abstract: Effective reservoir fisheries management requires fish samples suitable for addressing objectives. These samples are typically attained with fish sampling gears using standardized protocols. Some standardized protocols for sampling reservoir fishes promote objective-based sampling, and many include a minimum number of gear deployments. This minimum number is often a function of reservoir surface area. However, reservoir size may not adequately predict the number of gear deployments needed to reach sample objectives. We used multiple linear regression to determine the relationships between the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of reservoirs and the number of gear deployments needed to reach two sample objectives: (1) collecting 100 stock-length fish (N100), and (2) attaining relative SE of stock-length catch per effort (CPE) ≤25% (RSE25). These analyses were conducted using data from 34 Kansas reservoirs and six fish species. We used Akaike model averaging from a confidence model set (ΔAIC ≤ 2) to develop an average model for each sample objective (N100 and RSE25) and target species. Recent CPE was identified in N100 models for six target species and in RSE25 models for five. Conversely, reservoir surface area was identified in only one model for N100 and two for RSE25. These results suggest that reservoir characteristics other than surface area, particularly recent CPE, should be considered when developing minimum sample sizes for objective-based fish sampling protocols. This approach would allow managers to most efficiently allocate sampling effort while still collecting representative and precise fish samples. Received March 6, 2015; accepted November 30, 2015 Published online March 22, 2016 © American Fisheries Society 2016.

Koch J.D.,South Tourism | Neely B.C.,Parks and Tourism | Colvin M.E.,Oregon State University
North American Journal of Fisheries Management | Year: 2014

Abstract: We evaluated the precision of samples and the number of stock-length fish collected by means of standard methods used for sampling North American freshwater fishes from 2010 to 2013 in Kansas. Additionally, we used resampling procedures to determine the number of gear deployments needed to achieve a relative standard error (RSE) of 25% for the CPUE and collect 100 stock-length individuals. Median RSE of electrofishing samples was generally less than 25% for Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides in all sizes of reservoirs and for Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus in medium (251–1,000 acres) and large reservoirs (greater than 1,000 acres). The RSE estimates were generally >25% for Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus and crappies Pomoxis spp. collected in trap nets and palmetto bass (female Striped Bass Morone saxatilis × male White Bass M. chrysops) and Walleye Sander vitreus sampled in gill nets. With few exceptions, 100 stock-length individuals of all target species (e.g., Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, crappies, palmetto bass, Channel Catfish, Walleye) were not sampled at current levels of effort. Resampling procedures indicated that fewer than 20 deployments were usually needed to obtain an RSE ≤ 25% and 100 stock-length fish for Largemouth Bass in smaller impoundments (i.e., <250 acres); however, more than 20 deployments were needed in larger impoundments. The median effort needed to achieve an RSE ≤ 25% for Bluegills and crappies in trap nets varied and may exceed what some biologists find practical. Fewer gill-net deployments were needed to reach an RSE ≤ 25% for palmetto bass and Walleyes than to collect 100 stock-length fish. Our results indicate that more samples than are currently prescribed are generally needed to precisely sample sport fishes by means of standardized protocols in Kansas reservoirs. In some instances, obtaining precise samples may not be logistically feasible. In these situations, biologists should be aware of the potential shortcomings of sampling protocols and set objectives accordingly.Received May 12, 2014; accepted August 23, 2014 © 2014, © American Fisheries Society 2014.

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