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Welcome to the interactive web schedule for the 2019 Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference! Please note, this event has passed. To return to the main Conference website, go to: www.midwestfw.org.

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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 

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Grassland [clear filter]
Tuesday, January 29
 

2:40pm EST

(WILDLIFE: UPLAND 1) Reptile and Small Mammal Occupancy in Prairie Strips Integrated in an Agricultural Landscape
AUTHORS: Matthew D. Stephenson, Lisa A. Schulte – Iowa State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management; Robert W. Klaver, U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

ABSTRACT: Grasslands in the Midwest United States have seen a precipitous decline over the last 150 years, resulting in the loss of millions of acres of habitat for wildlife. A large majority of the land in the Midwest is privately owned and efforts to restore habitat on large scales will have to include partnerships with private landowners. Contour buffer strips of diverse native prairie planted in row crop fields have been demonstrated to be very effective at reducing nutrient and soil runoff and may also serve as a significant area of habitat for wildlife such as reptiles and small mammals.From 2015-2018 we investigated reptile and small mammal occupancy in contour buffer strips of diverse native prairie and other on-farm habitat patches on 15 sites in Iowa, USA. We placed plywood artificial cover objects in perennially vegetated conservation features on farms and checked them between 4-20 times each year from April-October. We modeled patch occupancy in Program MARK to test if landscape variables such as patch size, fragmentation, connectivity, and vegetation diversity predicted occupancy for several species of reptiles and small mammals. We also modeled potential nuisance variables such as time-of-year, time-of-day, and weather that could affect detection probability. A greater understanding of how these less-frequently studied taxa utilize on-farm habitat could aid managers and policy makers to help make agricultural conservation programs effective for conserving as many taxa as possible.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 2:40pm - 3:00pm EST
CENTER STREET ROOM D

3:20pm EST

(WILDLIFE: UPLAND 2) Does Land Management Have Detectable Effects on Species Richness?
AUTHORS: Jay Vecchiet, Richard B. King – Northern Illinois University

ABSTRACT: Agencies across the United States rely on data driven management practices. Whether or not those practices are successful can be ambiguous because variables other than management also shape population and community responses. Here, we test whether the effects of preserve size, preserve land cover, surrounding land cover, habitat quality, and management history have a detectable effect on species richness. We focus on amphibians and reptiles in grassland-dominated preserves in northern Illinois.  Species lists were compiled for 15 preserves ranging in size from 7 ha to 1460 ha. Habitat quality and land cover (open water, wetland, grassland, wooded, agriculture) of all preserves were analyzed using ArcMap 10.4.1. Preserves were also classified by age, prior land use, and intensity of management actions (seeding, prescribed fire, chemical and mechanical controls). Across preserves, a total of 31 amphibian and reptile species were documented, including 8 frogs and toads, 2 salamanders, 2 lizards, 6 turtles, and 13 snakes. Of these, 7 are considered Endangered, Threatened, or Species in Greatest Conservation Need in Illinois. As management is carried out, there are obvious positive effects on the environment (soil composition, plant communities, water quality), but demonstrating a positive effect on organisms with cryptic life histories, such as amphibians and reptiles, is challenging.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
CENTER STREET ROOM D

3:40pm EST

(WILDLIFE: UPLAND 2) Effects of Field and Landscape-scale Habitat on Ring-necked Pheasant Demography
AUTHORS: Tim Lyons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; T.J. Benson, Illinois Natural History Survey; Wade Louis, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Mike Ward, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Richard Warner, National Great Rivers Research & Education Center

ABSTRACT: In agriculturally dominated landscapes, the habitat provided by public and private lands is critical for the conservation and management for non-game as well as game species, such as ring-necked pheasants. Management of these areas to increase pheasant populations has focused on increasing field size, the amount of grassland cover in the landscape, or managing vegetation composition within fields, to improve success during the nesting or brood-rearing stages, or the survival of breeding adults. How these actions will impact overall population growth or which stages or habitat features should be prioritized for management is not always clear. We studied how habitat conditions at the field-and landscape-scale influenced the demography of ring-necked pheasants on public and private grasslands in Illinois. Between 2013-2016, we used radio telemetry to track > 200 ring-necked pheasants and quantified the relationship between habitat features at multiple spatial scales, nest success, chick survival, and adult survival. We then used a simulation study to understand how changes to habitat features important to a particular stage ultimately affected population growth. We also examined how predator identity influenced the relationship between adult survival and habitat conditions. We found that several habitat features had contrasting effects among multiple stages and ultimately restricted population growth when management focused on maximizing performance during one stage. Our results also indicate that raptors may be a more important predator of pheasants than is generally recognized, but the risk of predation can be reduced by the management of vegetation within fields. Collectively our work highlights the importance of full life-cycle studies of demography for the effective management of wildlife and suggests that smaller fields, often overlooked in traditional conservation schemes, can play a role in pheasant management when coupled with appropriate management of vegetation within fields.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST
CENTER STREET ROOM D