Matching Items (31)

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Occurrence of a Pathogenic Fungus in Captive Arizona Amphibians

Description

Amphibians have been experiencing a worldwide decline that is in part caused by an infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, specific to frogs and salamanders. Globally many species have declined or gone extinct

Amphibians have been experiencing a worldwide decline that is in part caused by an infectious disease, chytridiomycosis, specific to frogs and salamanders. Globally many species have declined or gone extinct because of the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as the amphibian chytrid or Bd. By the time Bd was discovered it was too late to stop the spread and it has now been found on almost every continent. The trade of captive amphibians, used as pets, bait, and educational animals provides an opportunity to spread Bd. Because some amphibians can carry Bd without experiencing symptoms, it is possible for even healthy looking amphibians to spread the amphibian chytrid if they are moved from one location to another. Recently, a new species Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) was found on salamanders. Bsal was identified before it reached the United States, prompting concern regarding its spread and a call for regulation regarding the trade of captive amphibians. There are some regulations in place controlling the trade of amphibians, but they are insufficient to stop the spread of amphibian chytrid in captive populations. A 2016 law prohibits the importation of 201 salamander species. However, there is no central organization to sample or certify if amphibians are free from Bd or Bsal. Although some stores say they test for these pathogens the tests are unregulated and not reported to any central body. If the captive amphibian trade is to go disease free, there would need to be a significant push to coordinate testing efforts. To estimate Bd's prevalence in Arizona captive amphibian populations, I contacted pet stores, bait stores, and sanctuary or educational organizations to ask if I could sample their amphibian collections. My research built on the 2008 work of Angela Picco, who sampled for the amphibian chytrid in Arizona bait shops. I found that amphibian owners were often hesitant and unwilling to participate in this research opportunity. There are multiple reasons for this hesitancy including a fear of increased regulation, the potential for reporting to a government agency (USDA), or the eventual cessation of amphibian trade. The lack of willing participants suggests there may be difficulties in coordinating future sampling efforts for Bd and Bsal.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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An Evaluation of the Inclusivity of the Conservation Biology and Ecology Concentration at Arizona State University

Description

The mainstream American environmental movement has a reputation for being ethnically homogenous (i.e., white), especially within the field of conservation. Low minority involvement has been noted and discussed in the

The mainstream American environmental movement has a reputation for being ethnically homogenous (i.e., white), especially within the field of conservation. Low minority involvement has been noted and discussed in the conservation literature and within environmental organizations, but these discussions aren't always informed by the explicit social justice concerns critical to understanding the complex intersection of environmental and social issues. Communities of color have expressed concern for environmental and conservation issues, but often frame those issues in a different way than is common in mainstream conservation science, a framing that we can appreciate through a deeper analysis of the values and goals of the environmental justice (EJ) movement. A more thorough inclusion of EJ principles could be an effective method to increase ethnic diversity in the field of conservation, particularly within higher education conservation programs like the Conservation Biology and Ecology (CBE) concentration at Arizona State University. This thesis frames the broader challenge of diversity in conservation, the history and current state of the conservation movement, and the history of the environmental justice movement via a literature review. I then evaluate the university's CBE program on the basis of its diversity through an analysis of demographic data on undergraduate ethnicity from the School of Life Sciences. I conclude with a series of recommendations for enhancing the diversity of ASU's CBE program moving forward.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Validating morphological condition indices and their relationship with reproductive success in great-tailed grackles

Description

Morphological variation among individuals has the potential to influence multiple life history characteristics such as dispersal, migration, reproductive success, and survival (Wilder et al., 2016). Research has shown that individuals

Morphological variation among individuals has the potential to influence multiple life history characteristics such as dispersal, migration, reproductive success, and survival (Wilder et al., 2016). Research has shown that individuals that are in better "condition" can disperse or migrate further or more successfully, have greater reproductive success, and survive for longer (Wilder et al., 2016; Heidinger et al., 2010; Liao et al., 2011), particularly in years where environmental conditions are harsh (Milenkaya et al., 2014). An individual's body condition can be defined in various ways, but is most often considered an individual's energetic or immune state (Milenkaya et al., 2014). Since these traits are hard to measure directly, researchers have instead used a variety of morphological proxy variables to quantify condition such as fat score (Kaiser, 1993), weight, ratio of weight to tarsus length (Labocha et al., 2014), a scaled mass index (Peig and Green, 2009), as well as hematological indices for immune system function (Fleskes et al., 2017, Kraft et al., 2019). However, there is mixed support regarding whether these condition indices relate to life history characteristics (Wilder et al., 2016; Labocha et al., 2014), and whether the relationship is linear (Mcnamara et al., 2005; Milenkaya et al., 2014). Additionally, although some researchers use multiple morphological proxy variables for condition (e.g. Warnock and Bishop, 1998), rarely have there been direct comparisons among proxies to validate that they measure the same trait. In this investigation, we define condition as an energetic state and we attempt to measure it by comparing two indices (fat score and the scaled mass index) to validate whether they measure the same trait in our study system, the great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus). We found that the morphological proxy variables did not correlate with each other, indicating that they were not measuring the same trait. Further, the proxy variables did not correlate with reproductive success, measured as whether a female had a fledgling and whether a male held a territory containing nests. These results improve our understanding of measures of condition in grackles, and birds in general, and the importance of condition for reproductive success - a necessary component for selection to act.

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Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Listing the American Pika (Ochotona princeps): The role of science in a political world

Description

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to list the American

In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) petitioned the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to list the American pika (Ochotona princeps) as an endangered species. After several petition denials, the petition was evaluated during both 90-day, and 12-month reviews. Ultimately, both petitions were denied and the pika was not given protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). During the petitioning years, 2007 through 2013, there were many newspaper publications, press releases, and blog entries supporting the listing of the pika. Information published by these media ranged from misleading, to scientifically inaccurate. The public was swayed by these publications, and showed their support for listing the pika during the public comment period throughout the 12-month status review in California. While the majority of the public comments were in favor of listing the pika, there were a few letters that criticized the CBD for making a poster child out of a "cute" species. During the 12-month status review, the CDFW contacted pika experts and evaluated scientific literature to gain an understanding of the American pika's status. Seven years after the original petition, the CDFW denied listing the pika on the grounds that the species is not expected to become extinct in the next few decades. This case serves as an example where a prominent organization, the CBD, petitions to list a species that does not warrant protection. Their goal of making the pika the face of climate change failed when species was examined.

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Date Created
  • 2014-05

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A HISTORY AND COMPARISON OF WOLF CONSERVATION IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES AND ITALY

Description

Abstract This thesis is derived from the conservation biology field of study and seeks to chronicle and characterize the history of wolf conservation in the US, with a focus on

Abstract This thesis is derived from the conservation biology field of study and seeks to chronicle and characterize the history of wolf conservation in the US, with a focus on post-ESA listing and present day events. The compelling question this thesis seeks to address is how to make long-term wolf conservation effective and feasible in the United States. An overview of wolf life history is provided, as well as a brief overview of early wolf-human interactions in Europe and the US, before reviewing the following regions in the US: Yellowstone, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming, Alaska, and Arizona. The trend identified in all regions is described as a hostile political atmosphere with particular resentment by some stakeholders towards the federal enforcement of wolf conservation via the ESA. A comparative section on Italy is provided in contrast to this US theme, as Italy tends to have a much more relaxed attitude towards wolf conservation. For success in the future of wolf conservation three suggestions are made. First, efforts to protect wolves through federal regulation are to be dismissed. Second, efforts should instead focus on education of key demographics regarding responsible environmental management and wolf management specifically. Thirdly, conservationists must actively strive to remarket the wolf as a symbol of the freedom of the west as opposed to the symbol of Washington's encroachment on state's rights.

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Date Created
  • 2014-12

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Flora of the upper Verde River, Arizona

Description

The Upper Verde River of central Arizona flows through a landscape of complex geology at the meeting of seven biotic communities and three physiographic provinces. This has resulted in notably

The Upper Verde River of central Arizona flows through a landscape of complex geology at the meeting of seven biotic communities and three physiographic provinces. This has resulted in notably diverse flora and fauna and a hub of rare and endemic plant species. The river has sustained cultures since pre-history, however current regional water use is predicted to diminish streamflow over the next century. Prior to this project, no floristic inventory had been conducted along any section of the Verde. The purpose of this study was to develop a Flora of the Upper Verde River, with the goals of documenting rare and endemic species, the composition and abundance of wetland plants, and the factors shaping plant diversity in the region.

I made a total of 1856 collections and reviewed past collections to produce a checklist of 729 vascular plant taxa in 403 genera and 98 families. The most species-rich family is the Poaceae, followed by Asteraceae and Fabaceae. The flora includes 159 wetland taxa, 47 endemics, and 26 taxa of conservation concern, eight of which are Federally listed. Several new populations were found in these categories and of rarely-collected taxa including one state record, three county records and several range extensions. I report on the local status of several endemics, wetland taxa with limited distributions, and relict populations of a tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius) that were likely transported to the region and cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures. I categorize thirteen distinct plant communities, the most abundant being Pinyon/Juniper Woodland, Chihuahuan/Apacherian Scrub, and Riparian Deciduous Forest.

Four primary factors influence floristic diversity of the Upper Verde region: 1) a location at the junction of three physiographic and floristic provinces—represented by co-occurrence of species with affinities to the Sonoran, Intermountain and Madrean regions, 2) geologic diversity—as distinct groups of species are associated with particular geologic types, 3) topographic and habitat complexity—allowing species adapted to disparate environments to co-occur, and 4) human introductions—since over 15% of the flora is composed of introduced species from Eurasia and several taxa were introduced to the region and cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Assessing the impact of Endangered Species Act recovery planning guidelines on managing threats for listed species

Description

Since its inception in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been met with both praise and criticism. More than 40 years later, the Act is still polarizing, with proponents applauding

Since its inception in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been met with both praise and criticism. More than 40 years later, the Act is still polarizing, with proponents applauding its power to protect species and critics arguing against its perceived ineffectiveness and potential mismanagement. Recovery plans, which were required by the 1988 amendments to the Act, play an important role in organizing efforts to protect and recover species under the Act. In 1999, in an effort to evaluate the process, the Society for Conservation Biology commissioned an independent review of endangered species recovery planning. From these findings, the SCB made key recommendations for how management agencies could improve the recovery planning process, after which the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service redrafted their recovery planning guidelines. One important recommendation called for recovery plans to make threats a primary focus, including organizing and prioritizing recovery tasks for threat abatement. Here, I seek to determine the extent to which SCB recommendations were incorporated into these new guidelines, and if, in turn, the recommendations regarding threats manifested in recovery plans written under the new guidelines. I found that the guidelines successfully incorporated most SCB recommendations, except those that addressed monitoring. As a result, recent recovery plans have improved in their treatment of threats, but still fail to adequately incorporate threat monitoring. This failure suggests that developing clear guidelines for monitoring should be an important priority in future ESA recovery planning.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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A social-ecological evaluation of conservation markets for wildlife

Description

Many wildlife species that are essential to human livelihoods are targeted with the aim of extracting short-term benefits. Overexploitation, resulting from failed common-pool resource governance, has endangered the sustainability of

Many wildlife species that are essential to human livelihoods are targeted with the aim of extracting short-term benefits. Overexploitation, resulting from failed common-pool resource governance, has endangered the sustainability of large animal species, in particular. Rights-based approaches to wildlife conservation offer a possible path forward. In a wildlife market, property rights, or shares of an animal population, are allocated to resource users with interests in either harvest or preservation. Here, I apply the Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework (Ostrom, 2009) to identify the conditions under which the ecological, social, and economic outcomes of a conservation market are improved compared to the status quo. I first consider three case studies (Bighorn sheep, white rhino, and Atlantic Bluefin tuna) all of which employ different market mechanisms. Based on the SES framework and these case studies, I then evaluate whether markets are a feasible management option for other socially and ecologically significant species, such as whales (and similar highly migratory species), and whether market instruments are capable of accommodating non-consumptive environmental values in natural resource decision making. My results suggest that spatial and temporal distribution, ethical and cultural relevance, and institutional histories compatible with commodification of wildlife are key SES subsystem variables. Successful conservation markets for cross-boundary marine species, such as whales, sea turtles, and sharks, will require intergovernmental agreements.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Odocoileus hemionus (hemionus) on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon: a study of wildlife nutrition, metabolic response and interaction of the herd with the winter habitat on the north Kaibab Plateau

Description

A mule deer herd exists on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, located on the North Kaibab Plateau. Historical references to this indigenous mule deer herd presented reports of

A mule deer herd exists on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, located on the North Kaibab Plateau. Historical references to this indigenous mule deer herd presented reports of periodic population irruption and collapse. Partially funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Deer Association, examination of herd nutritional and metabolic status from the Fall 2005 - Spring 2008 was completed at the request of AzGFD and ADA. Habitat analysis included forage micro-histological, protein, and caloric content plus whole blood and plasma assays gauging herd metabolic response. Modelling was completed using best management practices wildlife energy demand calculations and principal component analysis. Forage quality analysis and modelling suggest a sufficient amount of nitrogen (N) available (DPI) to the deer for protein synthesis. Energy analysis (MEI) of forage suggest caloric deficiencies are widely prevalent on the north Kaibab plateau. Principal component analysis integrates forage and metabolic results providing a linear regression model describing the dynamics of forage utilization, energy availability, and forage nitrogen supply with metabolic demand and response of the mule deer herd. Most of the plasma and blood metabolic indicators suggest baseline values for the North Kaibab mule deer. Albumin values are in agreement with albumin values for mule deer in the Southwest. I suggest that the agreed values become a standard for mule deer in the Southwestern U.S. As excess dietary N is converted to a caloric resource, a continual state of under-nutrition exists for the deer upon entering the N. Kaibab winter range. The population is exceeding the nutritional resource plane that the winter habitat provides. Management recommendations include implementation of multiple small-scale habitat rehabilitation efforts over time, including invasive juniper (Juniperous osteosperma) and piñon (Pinus edulis) management, prescribed burning to control big sage (Artemesia tridentata) populations, and reseeding treated areas with a seed mix of native shrubs, grasses and forbs. I recommended that the population size of the North Kaibab deer herd is maintained at the current size with natural selection controlling growth, or the population be artificially reduced through increased hunting opportunities.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Effects of urbanization on bat habitat use in the Phoenix Metropolitan Region, Arizona, USA: a multi-scale landscape analysis

Description

Context – Urbanization can have negative effects on bat habitat use through the loss and isolation of habitat even for volant bats. Yet, how bats respond to the changing

Context – Urbanization can have negative effects on bat habitat use through the loss and isolation of habitat even for volant bats. Yet, how bats respond to the changing landscape composition and configuration of urban environments remains poorly understood.

Objective – This study examines the relationship between bat habitat use and landscape pattern across multiple scales in the Phoenix metropolitan region. My research explores how landscape composition and configuration affects bat activity, foraging activity, and species richness (response variables), and the distinct habitats that they use.

Methods – I used a multi-scale landscape approach and acoustic monitoring data to create predictive models that identified the key predictor variables across multiple scales within the study area. I selected three scales with the intent of capturing the landscape, home range, and site scales, which may all be relevant for understanding bat habitat use.

Results – Overall, class-level metrics and configuration metrics best explained bat habitat use for bat species associated with this urban setting. The extent and extensiveness of water (corresponding to small water bodies and watercourses) were the most important predictor variables across all response variables. Bat activity was predicted to be high in native vegetation remnants, and low in native vegetation at the city periphery. Foraging activity was predicted to be high in fine-scale land cover heterogeneity. Species richness was predicted to be high in golf courses, and low in commercial areas. Bat habitat use was affected by urban landscape pattern mainly at the landscape and site scale.

Conclusions – My results suggested in hot arid urban landscapes water is a limiting factor for bats, even in urban landscapes where the availability of water may be greater than in outlying native desert habitat. Golf courses had the highest species richness, and included the detection of the uncommon pocketed free-tailed bat (Nyctinomops femorosaccus). Water cover types had the second highest species richness. Golf courses may serve as important stop-overs or refuges for rare or elusive bats. Urban waterways and golf courses are novel urban cover types that can serve as compliments to urban preserves, and other green spaces for bat conservation.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016