Citizen Science Works in NH

black racer NHLots of state wildlife agencies have residents counting turkey broods, and New Hampshire does too. But, says an article in the Eagle-Tribune, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has also been successful getting residents to survey the state’s dragonflies and its reptiles and amphibians.

The dragonfly count has been good news for the scarlet bluet, a rare damselfly that had only been spotted in the state five times before. During the citizen science dragonfly survey, there were 40 reports of the species, the article says.

“It was incredible,” Preston said. “We know so much more about dragonflies than we ever have before,” Emily Preston, a wildlife biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game is quoted as saying in the article.

Citizen surveys of reptiles and amphibians have also turned up new locations for the endangered Blanding’s turtle and the threatened black racer, a snake.

Butterflies may be next, the article says.

Read the Eagle-Tribune article here.

Photo: Black racer, courtesy of NH Fish and Game

Decline in Bee Diversity Leaves Gap

A Colorado study showed that when a single species of bumblebee was removed from an area, the remaining bumblebees foraged more generally. That would be good news, except for none of the bumblebees were interested in one of the flowers, the tall larkspur.

Read the abstract from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, here.
Read an article on the paper in the New York Times, here.

Minnesota Withdraws Bear Researcher’s Permit

Black bearThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has not renewed the research permit of an Ely man because he hand-feeds the bears he studies and has not published a peer-reviewed article in the 14 years that he has held the permit, an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press says.

The researcher hosts popular live Internet broadcasts of bear activities. He has argued that feeding bears is not harmful and is actually helpful to the relationship between humans and bears. At least one of his neighbors disagrees, the article says.

The DNR has told the man he must remove his collars from the bears by July 31.

Get all the details in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, here.
Minnesota Public Radio did a piece that was more sympathetic to the researcher, here.
See other stories here.

Photo: Not a bear from the study, or even Minnesota. Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

River Otters Have Cat Disease

euro_otter_by_Catherine_TriggYou may remember toxoplasmosis being the key factor in the deaths of sea otters a few years ago. (If not, find a refresher here.) But what about river otters?

A recent paper in the journal Parasites and Vectors found that 40 percent of the river otter carcases tested in England and Wales were positive for toxoplasmosis. None of the river otters in the study had died of the infection. (The concern, of course, is any sub-lethal effects.)

You can find the full text of the paper in Parasites and Vectors, here.
You can read the press release from the American Bird Conservancy, here.

A similar study on US river otters, specifically North Carolina river otters, was published in 1997. There, 46 percent of the tests were positive. Read the abstract, here.

Ten years later, another study, this one in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, found that river otters who feed in the ocean are more likely to be infected with various human pathogens, including the one that causes toxoplasmosis, if they lived closer to urban areas. You can read the abstract, here.

Photo: Eurasian otter by Catherine Trigg, used courtesy of the American Bird Conservancy

Fingers Crossed for East Coast Salmon

Dams — some built over 200 years ago — cut off Atlantic salmon from their spawning grounds from central Maine to Connecticut. An attempt to bring back the Connecticut River’s salmon has not been successful, but in Maine, on the Kennebec River, salmon surged back when dams were removed.

On the Penobscot River, also in central Maine, a few Atlantic salmon had always returned to the river, but dams blocked the way to most of their spawning grounds, in spite of a fish elevator that helped them past the first dam.

When first two dams on the river are removed, the way will be clear for the salmon to get to most of their historic spawning streams in New England’s second-largest watershed. Here’s a Nature Conservancy Magazine article detailing the situation three years ago.

Here’s an Associated Press story about the removal of the dam, scheduled for Monday, July 22.
And here’s a story from the Lewiston Sun Journal.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s northeastern section blog covered it here and here.

Find stories on last summer’s removal of the Great Works Dam, the second dam upstream from the ocean, here.


Got Mink?

mink-at-denThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) would like to learn more about Florida’s three subspecies of mink, and it is reaching out to the public for help.

“We know that mink are more likely to be found in and near salt-marsh habitat on both coasts of Florida but the reports people provide will help us pinpoint where we do research,” said Chris Winchester, wildlife biologist with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in a press release issued by the commission this week.

For reasons unknown, mink appear to be absent from the freshwater streams, rivers and wetlands of central and northern Florida, the commission website says.

The effort includes an on-line mink sighting registry that includes a mapping tool. A similar Google Maps tool was used in a FWC public outreach effort to locate fox squirrels. That effort was quite successful. We covered it back in October 2011.

Read the FWC press release here.
Read the additional information on the study here.
Find the mink sighting registry with Google Maps tool, here.

Photo: Mink looking out of den. Photo credit: Patrick Leary, courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Bat Movement Study

cumberland gap wns batBats move around a lot. Some bats migrate. Some bats move from summer or maternity roosts to winter hibernation caves. Finding out how bats move has suddenly become extremely important. White nose syndrome seems to be following the known patterns of bat movement. But just so little is known.

Erin Fraser used stable isotopes to study the migration patterns of tri-colored bats (aka eastern pipistrelles) for her doctoral work at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Bat Conservation International helped fund the work, so they have lots of details in their newsletter, here.

You can learn more about using stable isotopes in ecological research in this article in the online publication Yale Environment 360, here.

Photo: A tri-colored bat found at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
shows visible signs of white-nose syndrome. Courtesy National Park Service

19 New Protected Species in Nova Scotia

plymouth gentianNineteen new species have been added to Nova Scotia’s list of species at risk, bringing the total listed in the province to 60, according to a Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources press release and a CBC News report.

Three bat species are on the list, including the little brown bat, the northern bat and the tri-colored bat, which are all listed as endangered. Three bird species have been added to the list as endangered: the barn swallow, Bicknell’s thrush, Canada warbler, and the rusty blackbird. The olive-sided flycatcher and the eastern whip-or-will have been listed as threatened.

The black ash tree is listed as threatened. There are only 12 known mature trees in the province, the department press release says.

For the complete list of species, see the Nova Scotia DNR website, here. (New species are marked with the year 2013.)

Read the Nova Scotia DNR press release here.
Read the CBC News story here.
The web page with the complete list of at risk species is here.

Photo: The Plymouth gentian has been listed as endangered in Nova Scotia. Courtesy of the Nova Scotia DNR.

NPR on Sage Grouse Initiative

Sage Grouse vs transmission linesOn Wednesday, NPR had a piece on the Sage Grouse Initiative in Montana. There are photos and audio (or you can just read the article).

The initiative was started by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the piece says. It was joined by The Nature Conservancy, universities and state wildlife agencies. The initiative’s key tools seem to be portable electric fences, and widely distributed watering sites. That’s because having cattle graze intensely in small areas, leaving the grass in other areas to grow tall, as the sage grouse like it, is the goal of the program.

While sage grouse are found in only a few states, the effort to keep the species off the federal endangered species list should be of interest to all wildlife managers, particularly those managing other species at risk. At what point should we take action to keep a species from being listed? At what point does the species need to be listed so the protections of the Endangered Species Act can kick in and save it from extinction?

Stay tuned.

Photo: Greater sage grouse by Stephen Ting. Courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Counting Bats

P1040280Because of white nose syndrome (WNS), counting bats is more important than ever. In regions where WNS has already struck, wildlife researchers are tracking survival rates. In regions where it hasn’t struck, wildlife researchers are collecting baseline data.

In Georgia, volunteers are using Anabat bat detectors to assist the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section in their counts. Read the story in the Augusta Chronicle.

In Long Cave in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park they are using LIDAR, a combination of light and radar, to count bats without disturbing them. This technology seems like a dream come true for bat biologists in the age of WNS. Bat Conservation International partnered with the Cave Research Foundation and the U.S. National Park Service to test the new technology.

Learn more about the technology and the test in the Bat Conservation International newsletter, here.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife is conducting its third year of summer bat surveys. The surveys are mostly done the old-fashioned way, by squinting into the dusk and counting, but the surveyors also have use of an Anabat and night vision goggles. In certain locations they trap and sometimes radio tag bats.

I know all about it, because I wrote an article, but I can’t link to it because it is behind a paywall. If you happen to have a subscription to the Rutland Herald, you can read it here. (Although I suspect that link isn’t good for long either.)

Photo: Vermont Fish and Wildlife bat biologist and interns prepare to count bats. By Madeline Bodin