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Blakesley J.A.,Colorado State University | Seamans M.E.,University of Minnesota | Seamans M.E.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Conner M.M.,Utah State University | And 12 more authors.
Wildlife Monographs | Year: 2010

The California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) is the only spotted owl subspecies not listed as threatened or endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act despite petitions to list it as threatened. We conducted a meta-analysis of population data for 4 populations in the southern Cascades and Sierra Nevada, California, USA, from 1990 to 2005 to assist a listing evaluation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Our study areas (from N to S) were on the Lassen National Forest (LAS), Eldorado National Forest (ELD), Sierra National Forest (SIE), and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SKC). These study areas represented a broad spectrum of habitat and management conditions in these mountain ranges. We estimated apparent survival probability, reproductive output, and rate of population change for spotted owls on individual study areas and for all study areas combined (meta-analysis) using model selection or model-averaging based on maximum-likelihood estimation. We followed a formal protocol to conduct this analysis that was similar to other spotted owl meta-analyses. Consistency of field and analytical methods among our studies reduced confounding methodological effects when evaluating results. We used 991 marked spotted owls in the analysis of apparent survival. Apparent survival probability was higher for adult than for subadult owls. There was little difference in apparent survival between male and female owls. Model-averaged mean estimates of apparent survival probability of adult owls varied from 0.811 ± 0.021 for females at LAS to 0.890 ± 0.016 for males at SKC. Apparent survival increased over time for owls of all age classes at LAS and SIE, for adults at ELD, and for second-year subadults and adults at SKC. The meta-analysis of apparent survival, which included only adult owls, confirmed an increasing trend in survival over time. Survival rates were higher for owls on SKC than on the other study areas. We analyzed data from 1,865 observations of reproductive outcomes for female spotted owls. The proportion of subadult females among all territorial females of known age ranged from 0.00 to 0.25 among study areas and years. The proportion of subadults among female spotted owls was negatively related to reproductive output (no. of young fledged/territorial F owl) for ELD and SIE. Eldorado study area and LAS showed an alternate-year trend in reproductive output, with higher output in even-numbered years. Mean annual reproductive output was 0.988 ± 0.154 for ELD, 0.624 ± 0.140 for LAS, 0.478 ± 0.106 for SIE, and 0.555 ± 0.110 for SKC. Eldorado Study Area exhibited a declining trend and the greatest variation in reproductive output over time, whereas SIE and SKC, which had the lowest reproductive output, had the lowest temporal variation. Meta-analysis confirmed that reproductive output varied among study areas. Reproductive output was highest for adults, followed by second-year subadults, and then by first-year subadults. We used 842 marked subadult and adult owls to estimate population rate of change. Modeling indicated that λt (λt is the finite rate of population change estimated using the reparameterized JollySeber estimator Pradel 1996) was either stationary (LAS and SIE) or increasing after an initial decrease (ELD and SKC). Mean estimated λt for the 4 study areas was 1.007 (95 CI 0.9521.066) for ELD; 0.973 (95 CI 0.9461.001) for LAS; 0.992 (95 CI 0.9661.018) for SIE; and 1.006 (95 CI 0.9471.068) for SKC. The best meta-analysis model of population trend indicated that λ varied across time but was similar in trend among the study areas. Our estimates of realized population change (Δt; Franklin et al. 2004), which we estimated as the product 1 × λ3 × λ4 × .× λk -1, were based on estimates of λt from individual study areas and did not require estimating annual population size for each study area. Trends represented the proportion of the population size in the first year that remained in each subsequent year. Similar to λ on which they were based, these Δ showed evidence of decline over the study period for LAS and SIE. The best model indicated recruitment of male and female adult and subadults varied from 0.10 to 0.31 new territorial individuals at time t/number of territorial individuals at time t - 1 and similarly among areas. We also conducted a population viability analysis (PVA) based on results of our meta-analysis. This PVA was of limited utility for ELD and SKC study areas because 95 confidence intervals on the probability of decline or increase spanned the interval 0, 1 within 510 years. When we restricted inferences to 7 years, estimated probability of a >10 decline for SIE was 0.41 (95 CI 0.090.78); for LAS the probability was 0.64 (95 CI 0.270.94). In contrast, estimated probability of a >10 increase in 7 years for SIE was 0.23 (95 CI 0.010.55) and for LAS was 0.10 (95 CI 0.000.34). For comparisons, we simulated a PVA for a hypothetical population with mean λ 1.0 and the same temporal variation as observed in our owl populations. Our PVA suggested that both the SIE and LAS populations had higher probabilities of declining in a 7-year period than increasing but that it would be difficult to determine if a population was in a slight gradual decline. Our analysis and the repository of information on our 4 study populations provide a data-rich template for managers to monitor impacts of future management actions on the owl. Specifically, our data can be used to evaluate the effect of management strategies on spotted owls that are being implemented by the United States Forest Service to reduce the risk of wildfire in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem. Our information also provides baseline information for evaluating the status of the owl for potential listing as a threatened species by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.

Cunningham F.L.,Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center | Jack S.W.,Mississippi State University | Hardin D.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | Wills R.W.,Mississippi State University
Journal of Aquatic Animal Health | Year: 2012

A large commercial catfish enterprise encompassing over 500 food fish ponds from five farms covering multiple counties in the Mississippi Delta was included in this analysis of columnaris risk factors. A gram-negative bacterium, Flavobacterium columnare, is the cause of columnaris disease and is considered the second-most prevalent bacterial disease in farm-raised catfish. The objective of this study was to determine if pond-level risk factors reported by farm personnel were associated with columnaris disease mortalities. To identify risk factors affecting susceptibility of farm-raised channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus to columnaris disease, a Catfish Management database was developed. Logistic regression was used to model the relationships between probability of columnaris in ponds and risk factors examined. Generalized linear mixed models incorporating hierarchically structured random effects of ponds and one or more fixed-effects risk factors were fitted. In the screening process, each risk factor was evaluated in the basic model as a single fixed-effects factor, and if associated with the outcome (P ≤ 0.20), was retained for development of multivariable models. Two multivariable logistic regression models were constructed from data collected at the pond level by producers. The first was constructed from data in which water quality was not considered. Pond depth and reduced feed consumption for a 14-d period prior to disease outbreaks measured on a per hectare basis were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) associated with columnaris disease. The second, in which water quality variables were also considered, pond depth, reduced feed consumption, shorter intervals from stocking to disease outbreaks, and total ammonia nitrogen were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) associated with columnaris occurrence. This study showed some commonly recorded production variables were associated with columnaris disease outbreaks and, if monitored, could help identify "at risk" ponds before disease outbreaks occur. © American Fisheries Society 2012.

Breck S.W.,Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center | Goldstein M.I.,University of Alaska Southeast | Pyare S.,University of Alaska Southeast
Western North American Naturalist | Year: 2012

Establishment of sampling frameworks to monitor the occurrence of ecological indicators and to identify the covariates that influence occurrence is a high-priority need for natural resource restoration and management efforts. We utilized occupancy modeling to identify patterns of beaver occurrence and factors influencing these patterns (i.e., type and amount of vegetation cover) in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River ecosystem. We used rafts and kayaks to access a stratified random sample of sites (i.e., 100-m-long sections of riverbank) and used repeated sampling procedures to sample for beaver sign (i.e., lodges, cuttings, tracks, and beaver sightings). We quantified the type and amount of vegetation cover at each sampled section by using a GIS database of remotely sensed information on the riparian vegetation in the Grand Canyon. We first modeled occurrence of beaver sign as a function of the total amount of vegetation cover (summed across classes) and then determined the relative importance score for each of the 7 vegetation classes. Detection probability (p) was 2 times higher when observers traveled in kayaks (0.61) than when they traveled in rafts (0.29). Occurrence of beaver sign () in sampled transects was widespread throughout the Grand Canyon ( = 0.74, SE = 0.06) and positively associated with total vegetation. The relative importance scores for Tamarix and Pluchea vegetation classes were 1.5-2.5 times larger than those for all other vegetation classes, indicating that occurrence of beaver sign was most strongly associated with the cover of these 2 vegetation classes. Our results imply that quantifying the amount of riparian vegetation in close proximity to a river helps determine the occurrence of an important ecological indicator in riparian systems. The results also demonstrate a useful and cost-effective method for monitoring riverine species' usage patterns by explicitly accounting for detectability. © 2012.

Cunningham F.L.,Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center | Jack S.W.,Mississippi College | Hardin D.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | Wills R.W.,Mississippi College
Journal of Aquatic Animal Health | Year: 2014

A gram-negative bacterium, Edwardsiella ictaluri, is the cause of enteric septicemia of catfish (ESC), which is one of the most prevalent bacterial diseases in farm-raised catfish. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors associated with ESC mortalities and are reported by farm personnel. To identify risk factors a catfish management database was developed. The odds ratios (OR) of the final multivariable logistic regression model were: (1) volume of the pond (OR, 0.56), (2) interval from harvest until a mortality event (OR, 1.49), (3) interval from stocking until a mortality event (OR, 0.52), (4) nitrite measured within 14 d of a mortality (OR, 3.49), (5) total ammonia measured within 14 d of a mortality (OR, 20.48), and (6) sum of feed fed for 14 d prior to the disease outbreak (OR, 1.02), all of which were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) associated with ESC occurrence. This study showed that some commonly recorded production variables were associated with ESC outbreaks and if monitored could help identify "at risk" ponds prior to disease outbreaks. © American Fisheries Society 2014.

Anderson A.,Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center | Gebhardt K.,Colorado State University | Cross W.T.,United Road Services | Shwiff S.A.,United Road Services
Wildlife Society Bulletin | Year: 2013

Ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and other upland game populations in Wyoming, USA, have been declining due to changes in agricultural practices, urban development, and predation. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) have been implicated as one of the main predators of pheasant nests. Management of raccoons to support pheasant populations has the direct benefit of increasing pheasant populations and additional spillover benefits to corn producers in the region may occur. We conducted a field study in southeastern Wyoming from July to October 2009 to estimate the increase in corn yield associated with raccoon trapping. Although the primary purpose of the raccoon trapping was the support of upland game bird populations, the added benefit of increased revenue for corn producers is an important consideration. We tracked corn damage in 10 study plots over 6 weeks and estimated that trapping raccoons yields a revenue increase of US$10.75/ha. This type of spillover benefit is rarely considered when raccoon management decisions are made but is significant and should be included in any explicit or implicit benefit-cost analysis of the management action. Published 2013. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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