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Harrisburg, United States

Silvis A.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Ford W.M.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Ford W.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Britzke E.R.,U.S. Army | Johnson J.B.,Pennsylvania Game Commission
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2014

How wildlife social and resource networks are distributed on the landscape and how animals respond to resource loss are important aspects of behavioral ecology. For bats, understanding these responses may improve conservation efforts and provide insights into adaptations to environmental conditions. We tracked maternity colonies of northern bats (Myotis septentrionalis) at Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA to evaluate their social and resource networks and space use. Roost and social network structure differed between maternity colonies. Overall roost availability did not appear to be strongly related to network characteristics or space use. In simulations for our two largest networks, roost removal was related linearly to network fragmentation; despite this, networks were relatively robust, requiring removal of >20% of roosts to cause network fragmentation. Results from our analyses indicate that northern bat behavior and space use may differ among colonies and potentially across the maternity season. Simulation results suggest that colony social structure is robust to fragmentation caused by random loss of small numbers of roosts. Flexible social dynamics and tolerance of roost loss may be adaptive strategies for coping with ephemeral conditions in dynamic forest habitats. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source

Lutz C.L.,Pennsylvania State University | Diefenbach D.R.,Pennsylvania State University | Rosenberry C.S.,Pennsylvania Game Commission
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2015

Dispersal behavior in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) predominantly occurs in 1-year-old males; however, females of the same age also disperse. The timing of female dispersal during fawning season and low dispersal rates suggest that competition for mates and reduced inbreeding are not ultimate causes of female dispersal, as suggested for males. We proposed that female dispersal is the result of competition for space when pregnant females seek to isolate themselves before and after parturition. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a meta-analysis of female dispersal rates from 12 populations of white-tailed deer and predicted dispersal rate and distance were positively related to deer density. We found a positive relationship between dispersal rate and deer per forested km2 and between dispersal distance and deer per forested km2. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that female dispersal is density-dependent and caused by the exclusion of subordinate 1-year-olds as adult females seek isolation before and after parturition. © 2015 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

Robinson K.F.,Cornell University | Diefenbach D.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Fuller A.K.,Cornell University | Hurst J.E.,NY Environmental Conservation | Rosenberry C.S.,Pennsylvania Game Commission
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2014

Many studies have documented that coyotes (Canis latrans) are the greatest source of natural mortality for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) neonates (<3 months old). With the range expansion of coyotes eastward in North America, many stakeholders are concerned that coyote predation may be affecting deer populations adversely. We hypothesized that declines in neonate survival, perhaps caused by increasing coyote predation, could be offset by adjusting or eliminating antlerless harvest allocations. We used a stochastic, age-based population simulation model to evaluate combinations of low neonate survival rates, severe winters, and low adult deer survival rates to determine the effectiveness of reduced antlerless harvest at stabilizing deer populations. We found that even in regions with high winter mortality, reduced antlerless harvest rates could stabilize deer populations with recruitment and survival rates reported in the literature. When neonate survival rates were low (25%) and yearling and adult female survival rates were reduced by 10%, elimination of antlerless harvests failed to stabilize populations. Our results suggest increased deer mortality from coyotes can be addressed through reduced hunting harvest of adult female deer in most circumstances throughout eastern North America. However, specific knowledge of adult female survival rates is important for making management decisions in areas where both neonate and adult survival may be affected by predation and other mortality factors. © 2014 The Wildlife Society. Source

Miller-Butterworth C.M.,Pennsylvania State University | Vonhof M.J.,Western Michigan University | Rosenstern J.,Pennsylvania State University | Turner G.G.,Pennsylvania Game Commission | Russell A.L.,Grand Valley State University
Journal of Heredity | Year: 2014

Until recently, the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) was one of the most common bat species in North America. However, this species currently faces a significant threat from the emerging fungal disease white-nose syndrome (WNS). The aims of this study were to examine the population genetic structure of M. lucifugus hibernating colonies in Pennsylvania (PA) and West Virginia (WV), and to determine whether that population structure may have influenced the pattern of spread of WNS. Samples were obtained from 198 individuals from both uninfected and recently infected colonies located at the crest of the disease front. Both mitochondrial (636bp of cytochrome oxidase I) and nuclear (8 microsatellites) loci were examined. Although no substructure was evident from nuclear DNA, female-mediated gene flow was restricted between hibernacula in western PA and the remaining colonies in eastern and central PA and WV. This mitochondrial genetic structure mirrors topographic variation across the region: 3 hibernating colonies located on the western Appalachian plateau were significantly differentiated from colonies located in the central mountainous and eastern lowland regions, suggesting reduced gene flow between these clusters of colonies. Consistent with the hypothesis that WNS is transmitted primarily through bat-to-bat contact, these same 3 hibernating colonies in westernmost PA remained WNS-free for 1-2 years after the disease had swept through the rest of the state, suggesting that female migration patterns may influence the spread of WNS across the landscape. © 2014 © The American Genetic Association 2014. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals. permissions@oup.com. Source

Norton A.S.,Pennsylvania State University | Norton A.S.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Diefenbach D.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Wallingford B.D.,Pennsylvania Game Commission | Rosenberry C.S.,Pennsylvania Game Commission
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2012

The performance of 2 popular methods that use age-at-harvest data to estimate abundance of white-tailed deer is contingent on assumptions about variation in estimates of subadult (1.5 yr old) and adult (â¥2.5 yr old) male harvest rates. Auxiliary data (e.g., estimates of survival or harvest rates from radiocollared animals) can be used to relax some assumptions, but unless these population parameters exhibit limited temporal or spatial variation, these auxiliary data may not improve accuracy. Unfortunately maintaining sufficient sample sizes of radiocollared deer for parameter estimation in every wildlife management unit (WMU) is not feasible for most state agencies. We monitored the fates of 397 subadult and 225 adult male white-tailed deer across 4 WMUs from 2002 to 2008 using radio telemetry. We investigated spatial and temporal variation in harvest rates and investigated covariates related to the patterns observed. We found that most variation in harvest rates was explained spatially and that adult harvest rates (0.36-0.69) were more variable among study areas than subadult harvest rates (0.26-0.42). We found that hunter effort during the archery and firearms season best explained variation in harvest rates of adult males among WMUs, whereas hunter effort during only the firearms season best explained harvest rates for subadult males. From a population estimation perspective, it is advantageous that most variation was spatial and explained by a readily obtained covariate (hunter effort). However, harvest rates may vary if hunting regulations or hunter behavior change, requiring additional field studies to obtain accurate estimates of harvest rates. © 2011 The Wildlife Society. Copyright © The Wildlife Society, 2011. Source

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