UDWR-USU Brown Bag Luncheon Series
Sponsors: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and USGS Utah Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Julia Burton, Assistant Professor, February 7th, 2017
Can Silvicultural Practices be Leveraged to Maintain Diversity in Forest Ecosystems?
Trisha Atwood, Assistant Professor, March 7th, 2017
A More Holistic Look at Aquatic Ecosystems: Tracking Change in Ecosystem Functioning
Kyle Nehring, PhD Ecology Student
April 4th, 2017
Interactive Effects of Soils and Browsing on Sagebrush: Implications for Restoration Success
Jacopo Baggio, USU Assistant Professor
October 11th, 2016
Striving for a Successful Management of Biodiversity and Ecological Disturbances
Ecological disturbances (pests, invasive species, floods, fires etc.) and biodiversity conservation are important challenges in natural resource governance. Even if managers and scientists have the ability and know how to manage for disburbances and biodiversity, they often do not implement such strategies. Scale mismatch can occur when the conservation plan does not match the conservation problem. Baggio will be discussing the importance of learning type (whether organizations/managers learn from their own experiences or by imitating others), the social netowrks (if created because funded, mandated or shard interest) and the quality of relatiohsips between organizations/managers and how they can impact natural resource governance.
Peter Mahoney, USU PhD Student
November 1st, 2016
Towards Improving our Understanding of Coyote Ecolgoy and the Implications for Mule Deer
Coyotes have expanded throughout much of North America over the past century following the regional extirpation of apex predators. As a prey generalist, coyotes capitalize on a variety of food resources, including many species deemed valuable to society such as domestic livestock and wild game (e.g., mule deer). These prey tendencies often bring coyotes in direct conflict with humans, forcing managers to consider mitigation strategies with the aim of reducing impacts on harvested ungulates. However, managing these wild canids is not without controversy. Thus, we must take a science-based approach to understanding the nuances of coyote conflict. We present some of our findings from a 4-year study in Utah pertaining to the ecology of coyotes, as well as findings with regards to the efficacy of a predator control program used in mule deer management. We found no net effect of predator control on neonate survival, due in part to spatial mismatch between coyote control and our expectation of space use by parturient deer. Further, we found that coyotes select areas of high lagomorph and rodent biomass, with no apparent selection for deer fawning sites. Thus, we recommend focusing control efforts on areas with the greatest benefit to deer populations during periods of low primary prey abundance.
Janice Brahney, Assistant Professor
December 1st, 2016
Biogeochemistry--a Powerful Tool for Determining the Health of our Rivers and & Lakes
Biogeochemistry is a powerful approach for understanding ecosystem dynamics and identifying environmental stressors. Specifically, these tools can be used to trace pollution sources, track nutrient utilization, describe food webs, isolate species specific impacts, and can identify the cause of habitat alteration. Brahney will provide a brief overview on how she has used biogeochemistry to 1) improve understanding of food web alterations from changes in fish populations, 2) identify previously undocumented sources of pollution to freshwater ecosystems. And finally, discuss the potential for using biogeochemistry to address emerging issues in Utah.
Elijah Portugal, USU Research Associate
February 2, 2016
Partnering with Beaver to Restore Streams in Utah
Increasingly, the river restoration community recognizes the important role that North American beaver (Castor Canadensis) historically and currently play in structuring and maintaining riverine ecosystems. Because of this, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and river scientists are, “partnering with beaver” in river rehabilitation and restoration projects throughout Utah. The natural dam building activities of beaver increase instream geomorphic complexity and increase and enhance floodplain connectivity which supports productive and dynamic aquatic and riparian communities. By mimicking and supporting the dam building activities of beaver, restoration practioners seek to speed the rate of geomorphic recovery of degraded rivers, particularly rivers that are currently in an incised condition. Here we showcase case studies from UDWR/USU collaborative river restoration projects in Utah that utilize beaver.
Lisa Aubry, USU Assistant Professor
March 1, 2016
Demographic Approaches to Wildlife Conservation and Management Dilemmas
Aubry’s lab combines field and theoretical investigations to address vertebrate responses to environmental change. The three primary themes of her research include: Quantifying the impacts of anthropogenic factors on the demography, ecology, and micro-evolution of wild populations; isolating the demographic and physiological processes that mediate variation in individual responses to environmental change and how those scale up to affect populations and communities; and understanding how wild populations respond to management actions and conservation practices. Aubry applies this research to a wealth of ecosystems (costal, temperate, alpine, polar) and taxa (birds and mammals). During this seminar she will provide examples of this research, and how it is relevant to wildlife management in Utah.
Eric Thacker, USU Assistant Professor, Rangeland Extension Specialist
April 5, 2016
Long-Term Impacts of Habitat Treatments on Parker Mountain
Long-term evaluations of habitat treatments are important in understanding impacts on vegetation and wildlife species. On Parker Mountain we have been monitoring sagebrush treatments since 2000 to the present. We have monitored vegetation, forage production and sage-grouse use in mechanical and chemical treatments. Results suggest that chemical treatments using “spike” have more forbs, more forage and greater grouse use.
Making the Most of Monitoring Data
Koons discussed new approaches that allow agencies to use common monitoring schemes to attain detailed information about fish & wildlife population dynamics, conduct research using this information, and guide adaptive management over appropriate space and time scales.
Tom Monaco, USDA Ecologist
October 13, 2015
Assessing Vegetation Change and Seeding Success on Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative Project Sites: a Cooperative, Team Effort
Maureen Frank, USU PhD Candidate
November 3, 2015
Staging Ecology of Migratory Waterbirds at Great Salt Lake
Three species of migratory waterbirds--Wilson's phalaropes, red-necked phalaropes, and eared grebes--rely on Great Salt Lake's open-water resources during their staging period each year. These birds represent a significant proportion of each of their continental populations, yet many aspects of the time they spend at Great Salt Lake are understudied. This seminar shared new data on phalarope habitat use, prey, and behavior, as well as how weather and prey availability influence the timing of eared grebe migration at the conclusion of their staging period.
Edd Hammill, USU Assistant Professor
December 1, 2015
Warfare & Transportation — Two Struggles of Landscape Planning
This seminar described two recent projects that use technological advances to guide landscape-level decisions. The first describes how the risk of armed conflict can be incorporated into decisions regarding the identification of new nature reserves. The results highlight how uncertainty can be incorporated into conservation projects during the planning stages, increasing the return on investment and the chances of overall success. The second project describes a novel software tool that incorporates costs of construction and environmental offsetting into the identification of transportation corridors, leading to a simultaneous decrease in environmental impacts and costs. In the final part of Hammill’s seminar, he’ll describe how the principles utilized in these projects can be applied to Utah, especially the incorporation of landscape-level uncertainty into wildlife management.
Karen Mock, USU Professor
January 20, 2015
Environmental DNA (eDNA) Introduction and Applications
Dr. Karen Mock, a professor in Conservation Genetics and Molecular Ecology and Associate Dean in the Quinney College of Natural Resources at USU was the first presenter at the 2015 UDWR Brown Bag Seminar Series. She discussed the applications of eDNA. The goal of these sessions is to share ideas with UDWR about regional research that can aid in the management of Utah’s Natural Resources.
David Dahlgren, USU Extension Associate
February 10, 2015
The Future of Forest Grouse in Utah
In 1986 a dusky grouse study ranked as the highest priority for upland game research for the UDWR; however, to date no such study has taken place and there remains precious little information on dusky grouse, not only in Utah, but across the Intermountain West. In many ways dusky grouse are in a similar situation to sage-grouse 30-40 years ago when nobody considered sage-grouse a conservation concern.
Dr. Dahlgren discussed the proposal Utah State University Extension has created to start an applied research study to better understand how to manage dusky and ruffed grouse in Utah.
Chad Cranney, USU Masters Student
March 10, 2015
The Invasive Phragmites in Great Salt Lake Wetlands
Invasive plants can impact native plant community structure and function. One of the more problematic invasive wetland plant species in North America, and more recently in Great Salt Lake wetlands, is Phragmites australis. Despite extensive research and experiments to control invasive Phragmites, restoration efforts have highly variable results. Major limitations in the research include experiments that are limited both spatially and temporally compared to actual management efforts, and most experiments focus on the response of the target species and not the response of native vegetation.
Cranney’s research applies a large-scale approach to researching Phragmites herbicide treatments and how these treatments affect re-establishment of native plant communities. Research results will allow managers to implement effective control techniques that simultaneously reduce invasive plant cover, promote beneficial native plant communities, and improve habitat.
Keelin Schaffrath, USU PhD Candidate
Colton Finch, USU PhD Candidate
April 21, 2015
Wildfire Effects on Stream Geomorphology and Fish Populations