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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Lightning Talk: Wildlife [clear filter]
Wednesday, January 30

10:20am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Trends in Arthropod Abundance Over 21 Years in Illinois
AUTHORS: Bryan M. Reiley, T.J. Benson, David Zaya, Brenda Molano-Flores, Greg Spyreas, Eric Janssen – Illinois Natural History Survey

ABSTRACT: Arthropods play an important role in providing ecosystem services and are integral to terrestrial food webs. Given their importance, recent evidence suggesting widespread declines in arthropod populations has received considerable attention from scientists, politicians, and the public. While pollinator declines have been documented in North America, most evidence of declines has come from international studies. We are examining long-term changes in arthropod populations in Illinois using a 21-year data set of standardized sweep net samples taken in >500 randomly selected forest, grassland, and wetland sites. In addition to temporal trends, we are investigating the importance of weather variables, landscape context, and plant-community composition for influencing arthropod populations. 

Wednesday January 30, 2019 10:20am - 10:30am EST

10:30am EST

(CANCELLED) (WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Salamanders & Strip Mines: Effects of Extreme Habitat Disturbance on Genetic Diversity of Terrestrial Salamanders in Eastern Ohio
AUTHORS: Kate C Donlon, William E Peterman – School of the Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University

ABSTRACT: A leading contributor to the global decline of amphibians is habitat loss and alteration. While it is clear habitat alterationcan negatively impact the persistence of an organism on the landscape, many studies do not offer insight into population-level implications. Disturbed systems provide the opportunity to investigate the response of populations to habitat alteration post-disturbance. Industrial surface mining, also known as strip mining,is an example of extreme anthropogenic disturbance. The initial disturbance from surface mining can cause direct wildlife mortality and the displacement of species capable of moving away from the impacted area. Long-term effects are associated with changes to the vegetation and contour of the landscape. Prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 restoration requirements were minimal and infrequently enforced. Historically, strip mined land was often abandoned or only partially restored through the planting of trees on soil banks. Despite the extensive habitat destruction caused by the removal of layers of soil and rock to expose seams of coal for extraction, plethodontid salamanders have been found occupying reforested mine land that was abandoned prior to 1977 in Ohio. These populations provide an opportunity to study the long-term response of terrestrial salamanders to extreme anthropogenic disturbance. The goal of this project is to study the population genetics of terrestrial Northern Ravine salamander, Plethodon electropmorphus, across a heterogeneous landscape disturbed by strip mining. Comparisons between mined and un-mined sites will be made to infer the long-term impact strip mining has had on sensitive species’ ability to recoverfrom habitat disturbance. Population genetic parameters will be generated from microsatellite data from individuals sampled onmined and undisturbed reference sitesin Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Population genetic parameters will provide insight into population level implications ofextreme habitat disturbance.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 10:30am - 10:40am EST

10:40am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Habitat Use of Migrating Northern Saw-whet Owls in Delaware and Henry Counties, Indiana
AUTHORS: Kaitlin Gavenda, Kamal Islam, Clayton Delancey – Ball State University

ABSTRACT: This study aims to test if Northern Saw-whet Owls (Aegolius acadicus) exhibit a preference between two potential habitat types in Indiana, an old growth deciduous forest and a Christmas tree farm, during migration. Previous studies have documented the use of old growth deciduous forest. Christmas tree farms contain the coniferous trees preferred by these owls in their breeding habitat; however, it is an artificial environment that may not contain the cover that Northern Saw-whet Owls favor. This study examines if there are any differences in capture rates between these two habitat types based on season and gender. Two mist-netting stations have been established to monitor fall and spring migration periods: one at Ginn Woods (Ball State University property) in Delaware County, and the other at Whitetail Tree Farm in Henry County, both in Indiana. Each station uses six mist-nets: a line of four nets, with one net on either side of the middle to form a cross. A recording of a Northern Saw-whet Owl call is played at the center of the cross to increase owl capture rates. During last year’s banding, we caught 10 owls at Ginn Woods and 10 owls at Whitetail Tree Farm during the fall, and two more owls at Whitetail Tree Farm during the spring. Of these owls, 9 were hatch year, 6 were second year, and 5 were after second year. Only one male and one unknown sex were captured. We also had two foreign recaptures, one banded in Ontario, 2016, and one banded in Quebec, 2017. Analysis of fall 2018 migration captures will also be included.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 10:40am - 10:50am EST

10:50am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Using Environmental DNA to Determine Rail Occupancy and Track Migration
AUTHORS: Anastasia Rahlin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Mark Davis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Matthew Niemiller, University of Alabama in Huntsville

ABSTRACT: Wetland fragments in Illinois support over 100 bird species, 15 of which are state threatened and endangered. Wetland birds are of particular concern under the Illinois State Wildlife Action Plan due to the lack of information about their population sizes and distributions. Traditional playback methods fall short in elucidating cryptic wetland bird occupancy due to small body sizes, infrequent vocalizations, and unique habitat requirements. In this study, we investigated whether environmental DNA (eDNA) methods could be used to detect multiple rail species, and also hypothesized that taking environmental DNA samples over time would allow us to temporally track rail migration. We collected and filtered water samples from four sites from northern Illinois. We collected and purified DNA from filters using a Qiagen DNeasy kit, and quantified extracts on a Qubit 3.0 fluorometer. We amplified a short fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 locus using newly designed degenerate bird primers. We positively detected eDNA in our samples, with Qubit concentrations ranging from 1.30 ng/ml to 80.3 ng/ml. As expected, negative control samples collected in the field yielded no eDNA. Degenerate primers positively detected GBHE and SORA DNA extracted from liver controls, with band fragment sizes of approximately 125 base pairs. Degenerate primers also yielded multiple ~125 bp bands, showing strong evidence for wetland bird DNA detection from eDNA samples. Samples were sequenced on a MiSeq using degenerate bird and vertebrate primers. We focused on analyzing Illumina sequencing data for four species: Sora, King Rail, Virginia Rail, and Least Bittern. Our analyses yielded positive detections for multiple rail species. Least Bitterns were not detected. Ongoing work focuses on adding sampling sites in northern Illinois, increasing sampling duration, and taking soil eDNA samples.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 10:50am - 11:00am EST

11:00am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Migration Chronology and Wintering Locations of King Rails (Rallus elegans) Captured in the Upper Midwest
AUTHORS: Michelle Kane, Thomas Gehring – Central Michigan University; Brendan Shirkey, John W. Simpson, Michael A. Picciuto – Winous Point Marsh Conservancy

ABSTRACT: King rails (Rallus elegans) are a secretive marshbird, and the migratory population is of high conservation concern due to declining numbers and loss of historic breeding habitat. In part due to their secretive nature, knowledge gaps exist for basic life history information, including migratory routes, migration chronology and wintering range. We placed satellite transmitters on nine king rails captured in Ohio to gather information about spring and autumn migration chronology and routes, wintering locations, and the potential exposure of migratory king rails to harvest. We received autumn migration data for four individuals and spring migration data for two individuals. Departure dates from the breeding range varied from 30 August to 20 October and spring arrival date to the Upper Midwest was 20 April. Autumn migration for all birds was completed in five days or less. During autumn migration, three individuals migrated from Ohio to the Gulf Coast, and one individual migrated from Pennsylvania to the Atlantic coast. Spring migration lasted longer than autumn migration for both individuals. During spring migration, one individual migrated from the Gulf Coast to the Upper Midwest, and one individual migrated from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast. We found all king rails with migration data spent the winter in states with king rail hunting seasons during open hunting dates, and thus could potentially be exposed to harvest. This novel information provides critical insight into the migratory movements and wintering range of migratory king rails.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 11:00am - 11:10am EST

11:10am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Integrating Health, Disease, and Husbandry into Applied Wood Duck Research
AUTHORS: Jacob A. Shurba, Kali Rush, Jacob Straub – University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

ABSTRACT: Since September 2017, a study was conducted to examine hen and brood survival rates of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) in central Wisconsin. The capturing of wood ducks during the breeding season required use of decoy traps using captive wood duck hens. These captive ducks were purchased from two game farms in the Midwest. Captive decoy hens were placed in traps to attract breeding wood ducks. In March 2018, a small number of the decoy ducks began dying with no clinical signs to diagnose what was causing the mortality. In this study, we reviewed common diseases of waterfowl, the husbandry requirements for captive waterfowl species, and produced potential explanations as to what caused captive duck mortality, as well as recommendations for future studies. We collected data based on the differences in how our ducks were housed compared to recommendations in the literature. We also reviewed the inconclusive pathology reports from the deceased ducks and compared results to common diseases found in waterfowl. We found that the conditions our decoys ducks were kept in could be improved. A combination of living conditions and the adverse effects of being a decoy bird played a significant role in the mortality of these decoy ducks. Recommendations for future studies include a change of living condition to decrease the amount of stress placed on the decoys, and to lessen the amount of time a decoy duck is spending in the trap. 

Wednesday January 30, 2019 11:10am - 11:20am EST

11:20am EST

(WILDLIFE: LIGHTNING TALK) Estimating Abundance and Demographic Parameters of Canada Geese from Banding and Recovery Data
AUTHORS: Tim Lyons, Larkin Powell – University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Mark Vrtiska, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

ABSTRACT: Bird banding is a basic but important form of population monitoring that is vital to waterfowl management in the U.S. Most often, the data derived from state and federal banding programs are used to estimate survival and harvest rates and distributions across broad geographic regions, but they can also be used to estimate abundance at more local scales. However, absent or limited population surveys, banding efforts, or recoveries, from neighboring states or provinces complicates efforts, leading to ad hoc approaches to deal with these problems during analysis. Here, we use banding and recovery data of Canada geese in Nebraska 2006-2017 to assess the effects of changing harvest regulations on Canada goose demography and estimate abundance. We demonstrate a modified harvest derivation analysis and Lincoln-Peterson estimator to address pitfalls common to these approaches when estimating abundance. Finally, we discuss Jolly-Seber models as an alternative approach to estimating demographic parameters and abundance that circumvents the need for banding or population monitoring programs out-of-state and provides greater detail about the mechanisms responsible for population changes.

Wednesday January 30, 2019 11:20am - 11:30am EST