UDWR-USU Brown Bag Luncheon Series
Sponsors: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and USGS Utah Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Tal Avgar, Assistant Professor January 17th, 2019This seminar introduced Dr. Tal Avgar’s research program and how it may contribute to advancing wildlife management and conservation in Utah. To illustrate, Tal will focus on his recent work on integrated Step-Selection Analysis and its application to the study of the impacts of anthropogenic linear features on various wildlife species. He’ll discuss knowledge gaps and inferential weaknesses in the field of wildlife movement ecology, and how might those be bridged.
Thomas Edwards, Professor February 14th, 2019All spatially-based (landscape-scale) management relies to some extent on knowledge of species distributions. At the level of the Endangered Species Act, distributions are clearly integral to ESA-related Federal Register documentation. Defensible distributions are equally integral to state-based Wildlife Action Plans, as well as being important to land management agencies such as the DWR, BLM, NPS, and USFS. This seminar will address questions you may have about this topic.
Sarah Klain, Assistant Professor April 18th, 2019How can transitioning to clean energy, which is among humanity’s most urgent challenges, be done in ways that address climate change and support biodiversity? Mitigating climate change requires scaling up wind and solar farms. These farms can negatively impact wildlife, and they have larger footprints per unit of energy generated than most conventional ways of producing electricity. Land-based wind has grown rapidly while solar photovoltaic (PV) farms are on the brink of large-scale deployment. Instead of minimizing ecological harm, how can the wind and solar industries be ecologically beneficial? This talk will identify how conservation social science can contribute to solutions involving renewable energy infrastructure and wildlife.
Kesia Manlove, Assistant Professor October 9th, 2018Big sheep have suffered major declines throughout their range over the last 150 years. The foremost cause of these declines, infectious pneumonia, remains an insidious problem for sportsmen, conservationists, and management agencies alike. Dr. Manlove will review current knowledge about bighorn sheep pneumonia, emphasizing work she and her collaborators have conducted across five states, discuss current questions of high priority, and consider potential pathways forward toward managing this disease in the wild.
Clark Rushing, Assistant Professor December 4th, 2018Every year, billions of birds migrate between their temperate breeding grounds and tropical wintering grounds in one of the most extraordinary phenomena in the animal kingdom. Although migratory birds are exquisitely adapted to a life on the move, completing these daunting journeys requires high-quality habitat at each stage of their annual cycle, including breeding, migration/stopover, and wintering. Migratory birds therefore live life on the edge - climate or habitat disruptions at any stage of their annual cycle can have devastating effects on population viability. In this talk, I will discuss my research to quantify and predict the impacts of habitat loss and climate change occurring across the annual cycle on the population dynamics of migratory birds.
Larissa Yocom, Assistant Professor,
January 9th, 2018
Fire and Forest Ecology: Research Across Scales of Space and Time
How do forests, fire, climate and people interact? How do these interactions change over space and time? Using dendrochronology methods, plot data and large spatial datasets, Dr. Yocom’s research has addressed questions under this theme. Past and current projects have focused on climate and local influences on fire, quantifying attributes of mixed-severity fire regimes, post-fire carbon dynamics, fuel treatment effectiveness, fire interactions and ecological legacies. Variation in the pattern of fire over space and time has implications for all components of ecosystems, and understanding more about the drivers and effects of fire patterns can help inform forest and fire management.
Jordan Smith, Assistant Professor
February 6th, 2018
Shifting Trends in Outdoor Recreation Activity Across Utah
Dr. Smith and the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism provides resource management personnel, elected officials, private industries, and the general public with a better understanding of the social and economic trade-offs faced by communities who manage outdoor recreation resources and tourism destinations. In this presentation, Dr. Smith will describe recent and long-term trends in outdoor recreation use on public lands within the state. He will highlight how changing sociodemographic and environmental conditions are driving outdoor recreation use. Dr. Smith will also discuss sustainable solutions to emerging challenges associated with outdoor recreation use throughout Utah.
Chase Lamborn, Researcher
March 6th, 2018
Exploring how Drought Affects Recreational Angling in the Intermountain West
Chase Lamborn studies the management and recreational use of public lands. Chase will be discussing two topics. First, he will discuss how drought affects freshwater ecosystems, and in turn recreational angling. Second, he will discuss the drought conditions of 2016, the outbreak of Proliferative Kidney Disease on the Yellowstone River in Montana, and how drought, disease, and management responses affected recreational angling in the Yellowstone River Watershed.
Edd Hammill, Assistant Professor
April 3rd, 2018
Systematically Identifying Priority Management Areas in Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems
Wildlife managers are responsible for allocating resources among many different management options. Given the limited nature of available resources, managers must make decisions about which options or areas represent management priorities. A key component of these decisions is understanding how natural landscapes may be affected by future changes in climate or encroachment by development. In this presentation Ed Hammill shall describe a series of frameworks developed over the last year that can be used to inform landscape level management. These frameworks have been developed for both terrestrial and aquatic applications, and are designed so that managers may rapidly apply the principles to their species or landscapes of interest.
Soren Brothers, Assistant Professor, October 3rd, 2017
Shifting Winds: Sourcing Food and Oxygen in a Changing World
Terry Messmer, Professor,
November 2nd, 2017
Sage-Grouse: The More You Know, The More You Grow
Karen Beard, Professor,
December 7th, 2017
From State 49 to 50: How Natural and Un-natural Migration is Changing Communities
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