Projects in Progress

Monitoring Field Metabolic Rate on Eastern Box Turtles in Southwest Ohio

See PDF – Parlin

A survey to assess the current status of Feral Cat ordinances in New York State.

After a statewide Request for Proposals (RFP) for a researcher to attempt to survey efforts undertaken by local communities to control or curb the damage to wildlife caused by feral cats, the AWCF has engaged Dr. John Davis, State University if New York at Albany to conduct a survey. Below is an interim report by Dr. Davis.

Davis Interm Report & Local Laws map

Fort Drum Fawn Survival 2016 Summary Report - View PDFf

Whale Research - Ganley Report - View PDF

Impacts of Hurricane Sandy and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on Maritime
Vegetation Recovery at Fire Island National Seashore - View PDF

Southern Vermont Marten and Fisher Project Update

Field Surveys Winter and Summer 2015

In January of 2015, we began the first initial survey efforts aimed at verifying the presence of American marten (Martes americana) in southern Vermont. Working closely with Vermont Fish and Wildlife (VF&W) as well as the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), we conducted repeated camera surveys on two 5 km2 units, which resulted in the confirmed presence of one individual marten in our first sampling unit and four individuals in the second unit. After completing our first main objective, we ended our 2015 winter surveys in April. During the summer of 2015, surveys were conducted May through August, but produced only one detection record of American marten.

Field surveys for marten resumed in late November and continued throughout the winter of 2016, ending in early May. During this time, we conducted camera surveys in 31 sampling units, logging nearly 2,800 total operating trap days, and over 65,000 total trap hours. Marten were detected in 13 of our 31 sampled units, with several accounts of multiple individuals occurring at the same camera station.

Survey data from our 2015-2016 seasons provides the first, verifiable record of a contemporary American marten population in southern Vermont since the 1989-1991 reintroduction program. Information from our repeated camera surveys has revealed an apparent core population residing in the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) and camera survey data has provided a preliminary view of their extent of occurrence (Figure 1).

To date, marten have been detected in 15 of the 33 (45%) sampled units while fisher (Pekania pennanti) were detected in 32 of 33 (97%) units within our study area. Using the program PRESENCE, we calculated preliminary estimates of detection probabilities and occupancy estimates for both fisher and marten using the most basic model available. The probability of detecting a marten during each of the three surveys ranged between 63 and 85% with an occupancy estimate of 0.4305. Detection probabilities for fishers ranged from 65 to 87% and the occupancy estimate approached 100%.

Fishers have been considered to be a potential limiting factor of marten but the high level of co-occurrence at our camera sites suggests the relationship between these two species is more complex than previously thought. We are optimistic that the analysis of activity patterns from our camera data will provide further insight into the interactions between these two species.

Future Work

Data collection will continue in 2016-2017 with the goal of completing our sampling in the remaining areas of southern Vermont. The additional data collected in our study area will help improve our baseline detection probabilities and estimates of occupancy. Covariate data (e.g. annual average snow-depth, average canopy cover, etc.) collected in each sampled unit will be used to develop more complex models that help identify environmental variables that are associated with the presence of marten at the landscape level. Additional camera surveys will also be initiated in northwestern Massachusetts and further north of our study area in the Green Mountain National Forest to provide information about the degree to which marten are isolated in southern Vermont.

Additionally, we will continue to implement the hair snare design we piloted in 2016 and collect biological samples to help identify the genetic origin of the southern Vermont population of American marten.

Mianus Gorge

The Gorge has two projects that might be of interest to the Foundation.  First we'd like to take the coyote project into new directions -- the cameras have provided a lot of information on distribution but we are at the point now where we would like to answer more specific questions about individual coyotes, family groups, and dispersal patterns. 

This year we had some success collecting coyote scat in NYC Parks and we'd like to expand our scat surveys to collect DNA from these urban coyotes. 

There are some issues to work out regarding how to reliably collect enough samples to do a proper population genetics study.  So the first idea we had would be to ask for support in developing those protocols for use in this next phase of the coyote project. 

We've also just started a partnership with folks from Hofstra and the NYS DEC and others to begin a large research project that will examine the effects of coyotes on Long Island.  We think it is just a matter of time before they move through NYC and reach the relative "paradise" of suburban Long Island.  What we've learned from the work supported by the AWCF for the past 2 years is proving to be a huge help in this endeavor.

The second idea is based around white-tailed deer and their effects on the forests in our area and most of the northeast.  The Gorge has run an archery based deer management program for 10 years now and we've also collected extensive vegetation data for the same time period.  This fall we would like to find some support for analyzing this large dataset thoroughly.  The main objective with this is to see if in fact the vegetation has responded positively after 10 years of deer management, particularly since we are based on volunteer hunters using archery (rifle hunting is outlawed in our county).

Simultaneously, I have a few students who are running camera traps during the hunting season to examine how deer and coyotes move in and out of the Preserve during the hunting season.  This study is aimed at helping us learn how deer adapt to hunting pressure and, possibly, if coyotes respond to deer and/or hunter activity.  In this aspect of our wildlife research we could use support for additional camera traps and other equipment.

See attachment MRG-AWCF-report-2013-2014

Determination of possible sugar limitations at emerald ash borer parasitoid release sites in Northern United States.

Project is on schedule with sampling at ten sites in NY. A poster session will be presented at the Entomological Society of America’s November 2014 meeting.

AWCF recently received a thank you note from Jade Keehn, a Masters student at the University of Nevada - Reno for our help in funding her research on Desert Reptiles.

View Jade Keehn's Letter

Advancing Automatic Detection of Flying Vertebrate Collisions at U.S. Wind Energy Facilities - Download PDF

Distribution and Movment Patterns of Coyotes Colonizing New York City and Long Island - Mianus River Gorge Preserve Inc.- $2,000

Objective - To determine the current and likely distribution of coyotes irk City and, eventually, Long Island.

A NON-INVASIVE APPROACH TO RIVER OTTER MONITORING IN THE FINGER LAKES
Elaina Burns, SUNY ESF

Between 1995 and 2001, the River Otter Project and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) translocated approximately 300 otters to western New York and the Finger Lakes region. The goal of her research is to improve conventional otter monitoring methods using non-invasive techniques, and to contribute to a better understanding of the newly established otter population in the Finger Lakes. Specific research objectives are to:

1) establish individual genotypes and estimate abundance of river otters in the Finger Lakes using non- invasive molecular techniques, and
2) assess and quantify seasonal variation in group size, visitation rates, and temporal patterns of latrine site visitations using camera traps.

Abundance estimates will be established via DNA “finger printing” methods using non- invasive sampling of feces and mucosal secretions deposited at latrine sites. In addition, latrine sites will be monitored with camera traps to identify periods of increased visitation so that future monitoring efforts may be targeted during these periods of high latrine activity. Research is expected to be completed by late spring. Download PDF File

Managed White-tailed Deer Hunts in Northeast National Wildlife Refuges: an analysis of decisionmaking, adaptive management and stakeholder involvement. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies-$2,000.

Objectives:

1) To elucidate the processes used by four urban-proximate, northeastern refuges in reaching the decision that hunting is the most efficient, effective and appropriate mechanism for controlling deer populations on these areas,

2) evaluate the level to which these programs are adapted to contend with changing biological and social factors,

3) determine how refuge and wildlife stakeholder opinions and support are differentially weighted in management decisions.

Backyard Habitat Exhibit - A Demonstration - Seneca Park Zoo - $2,000

Wildlife Inventory and Management Plan for Lake George Land
Conservancy Gull Bay Area - Lake George Land Conservancy - $2,000

Objective: Develop a plan for guidance to establish a forest wildlife refuge on Lake George.

The Effects of Wind-generated Power on Terrestrial Populations of Small Mammals - Albright College - $2,000

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