The following are the poster presentations for the 2021 Jim & Katie Krause CNR Student Research Symposium.


 FISH3P- Effects of Riparian Habitat Type on Macroinvertebrate Drift in the Little Plover River, Wisconsin

Effects of Riparian Habitat Type on Macroinvertebrate Drift in the Little Plover River, Wisconsin
Rachael Valeria & Logan Cutler

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Adviser(s): Dr. Joshua Raabe, Dr. Jered Studinski, Jeff Dimick

Abstract: Coldwater streams and their inhabitants are heavily dependent on critical elements derived from the surrounding riparian habitat. Riparian areas benefit stream ecosystems by supporting diverse vegetation, preventing bank erosion, and increasing the ecological productivity. The vast majority of the stream's fishes, such as the socially, economically, and ecologically important Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), rely on macroinvertebrates that either fall into the water from the riparian zones, or are aquatic at some point in their life cycle. Central Wisconsin’s Little Plover River supports a self-sustaining population of Brook Trout and features a variety of riparian habitats including forest, wetland restoration, agriculture, and grassland. The focus of this study is to determine if the composition of aquatic and terrestrial macroinvertebrate communities in the Little Plover River drift varied among differing riparian areas. Locations were chosen on the Little Plover River corresponding with three riparian habitat types; forested, wetland restoration, and agriculture/grassland. In fall 2019, drift nets were deployed for 24 hours at all three locations. All captured invertebrates were preserved, sorted, and identified to family. Macroinvertebrate drift composition was compared among each of the riparian habitat types. Results from the drift samples exhibited a higher proportion of aquatic invertebrates, while terrestrial invertebrate composition varied among the three stream sections. This research provides insight into how Brook Trout prey availability is affected by riparian habitats along a cold-water stream. 

 FISH4P- A comparison of brook trout diel movement patterns to spawning activity and other environmental factors

A comparison of brook trout diel movement patterns to spawning activity and other environmental factors
Andrew Johnson & Natalie Coash

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Adviser(s): Dr. Joshua Raabe

Abstract: The Little Plover River in central Wisconsin contains a self-sustaining brook trout population Salvelinus fontinalis, but also has experienced extreme low flow periods leading to recent stream restoration efforts and increased research. Brook trout research from 2017-2020 included tagging individuals with PIT tags and installing antennas at four sites to monitor movements and survival. Also, redd surveys have been conducted to document spawning locations. Preliminary analyses of PIT antenna data indicated brook trout behaviors (hourly detections) were primarily crepuscular and nocturnal in most months but shifted to diurnal during the spawning period. Brook trout diel patterns have not been studied closely and may provide insights into spawn timing, movement cues, and feeding behaviors. Therefore, my study objectives were to further evaluate hourly detections to determine if brook trout diel movement patterns were related to weekly redd counts or differed with environmental conditions (e.g., water temperature, flow). The PIT antenna data were filtered to one detection every 15 minutes per individual to limit detections of fish remaining near an antenna for extended periods. Histograms of detections by hour were used to evaluate potential patterns and differences by month, by week around the spawning period and related to redd counts, and by differing levels of water temperature, flow, barometric pressure, and photoperiod. Results will increase understanding of brook trout movements and patterns throughout the day, providing insights on spawning behaviors, responses to environmental conditions, and feeding behaviors in the Little Plover River and other small coldwater streams.


 FISH5P- Brook Trout Movement and Habitat Use in the Little Plover River, Wisconsin

Brook Trout Movement and Habitat Use in the Little Plover River, Wisconsin
Keenan Foley

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Adviser(s): Dr. Joshua Raabe, Jeremiah Shrovnal

Abstract: Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis are the only salmonid native to Wisconsin streams, and as such are an important apex predator and source of angling recreation in small headwater streams throughout Wisconsin. The Little Plover River in Portage County, Wisconsin provides a unique study system in that brook trout are the major apex predator and the river is cut off from invasion due to an impoundment. Our study was designed to determine if brook trout utilized a downstream impoundment or areas of recent stream restoration. Brook trout were surgically implanted with radio transmitters. Radio telemetry was utilized from June 22, 2020 to November 26, 2020 to locate each Brook Trout weekly by walking the river and recording precise GPS locations. Brook Trout home range was variable across individuals with a minimum home range of 9.95 m and a maximum of 3612.49 m with a majority (78.26%) of individuals less than 1000 m. Slightly over half (52.17%) of brook trout had a home range of less than 200 m. A spatial distribution map was created in ArcGIS was also created to show study area and show the specific locations of brook trout. This information will further be used to determine if brook trout are selection areas of recent restoration work with any increased frequency. This study shows that brook trout can have highly varied home ranges within a small system and that when habitat work is conducted the entire system should be included for consideration as not all brook trout reside within the same area throughout the course of the spawning season. 

 FOR3P- Invasion of buckthorn over time

Invasion of buckthorn over time
Dylan Doporcyk

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Adviser(s): Dr. Michael Demchik

Abstract: Glossy buckthorn was introduced to the United States in the mid 1800’s as an ornamental. Since then, it has become one of the most invasive species in our area. On the north end of UWSP campus lies Schmeeckle Reserve. The Reserve is a 280-acre conservancy area and is overrun with buckthorn. During 2010 and 2018, estimates of aggregate height of buckthorn per acre were completed by students in NRES 457. During spring 2021, these plots were reinventoried. Measurement is ongoing at the time of this abstract. ArcMap will be used to process the data using the Inverse Distance Weighting function to assist in targeting focal areas for future buckthorn management.


 FOR4P- Schmeeckle Oak Savanna Restoration

Schmeeckle Oak Savanna Restoration
Steven Krueger

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Adviser(s): Dr. Michael Demchik 

Abstract: Oak savannas historically represented 15% of Wisconsin’s landscape. Due to both fire suppression and conversion to agriculture, savannas are now the most endangered ecosystem in the Lake States. Savannas provide a range of ecosystem services and support a number of threatened and endangered species. Savannas differ from both grasslands and woodlands by having only partial crown cover by trees. For restoration activities, meeting crown cover goals inherent to savannas is quite important to their success. A solution to meeting these crown cover goals can be found with the utilization of GIS and hierarchical ranking. For this project, every tree in the savanna restoration unit was identified, measured, and geo-referenced. The individual trees were ranked 0-10 based on their historic presence, size, and form. The higher the score the more desirable that individual tree is for retention on the site. Using ArcMap, each tree received a buffer which was calculated to represent the crown of a tree. Combined with the score, decisions could be made for which trees to keep or remove. The goal was to meet 25% crown closure and increase oak savanna biodiversity. Once the model was created, the site was marked and cut to meet those goals. This technique could allow managers to better model future crown cover with savanna restoration.

 FOR5P- Effectiveness of Native Plant Regeneration after Glossy Buckthorn Removal and Treatment in Schmeeckle Reserve

Effectiveness of Native Plant Regeneration after Glossy Buckthorn Removal and Treatment in Schmeeckle Reserve
Bethany Brownfield & Shannon O'Fallon

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Adviser(s): Dr. James Cook, Dr. Michael Demchik

Abstract: With the aid of Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) members, site stewards Bethany Brownfield and Shannon O’Fallon removed glossy buckthorn at a site in Schmeeckle Reserve named Jetson Oaks. Jetson Oaks is one of the sites that has been selected for student restoration and monitoring efforts as a part of the stewardship program led by SER. We delineated four quadrants of the site to assess and monitor any changes in vegetation and site quality that result from buckthorn removal and subsequent herbicide treatment. A baseline vegetative assessment was conducted for each quadrant before and after the glossy buckthorn removal, which was then analyzed using a Universal Floristic Quality Assessment Calculator to compare the pre-removal state to the post-removal state. Data was collected for assessment concerning several conservation-based metrics, particularly regeneration and basal area. Glossy buckthorn herbicide treatment will be followed by native vegetation seeding in half of the quadrants to investigate the effectiveness of native plant seeding on regeneration at sites that were previously dominated by invasive buckthorn. Our results remain inconclusive since the study remains in its preliminary stages, and post-removal metrics will be collected in the spring when vegetative changes can be accurately assessed. We hypothesize that quadrants that are seeded with native vegetation will show greater levels of regeneration than those left to naturally regenerate following glossy buckthorn removal and herbicide treatment. This study is meant to provide a basis for future stewardship research as ongoing restoration efforts throughout Schmeeckle Reserve require further monitoring and management adaptation. 

 FOR6P- Factors affecting the presence of invasive buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica & Frangula alnus) in Wisconsin school forests

Factors affecting the presence of invasive buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica & Frangula alnus) in Wisconsin school forests
Colby Powers

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Adviser(s): Dr. James Cook, Dr. Shuva Gautam, TJ Boettcher

Abstract: Land use and disturbance have both been of rising concern for their role in the invasion of European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), and other exotic invasive species. Buckthorn has long been known to cause many negative forest health problems such as decreased herbaceous biodiversity and decreased forage for native fauna. It can be difficult to control due to its ability to grow in a wide variety of habitat types and environmental conditions. Land use changes have been linked to increases in buckthorn densities in the past, however it has never been conducted on a statewide level in Wisconsin. This study measures common land use factors such as housing density, road density, distance to the nearest house, and amount of forest edge and compares them with the presence of both buckthorn species in forests across Wisconsin. We sampled 44 school forests in 44 counties across Wisconsin ranging in size from 7.9 hectares to 23.5 hectares with a total of 664 plots sampled. Our study determined that housing density, distance to nearest house, solar irradiation (WH/m^2/y), and road density all were significant factors while distance to the edge of the stand was not found to be significant. Our findings can be used to help land managers focus efforts in areas with higher predicted concentrations of buckthorn.

 HD2P- Climate Resilient Menu for Wisconsin Communities: Built and Natural Environment

Climate Resilient Menu for Wisconsin Communities: Built and Natural Environment
Katie Livernash, Ryan Michalesko, Jeffrey Lim

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Adviser(s): Dr. Anna Haines, Dr. Shiba Kar 

Abstract: The Resilient Wisconsin Menu (RWM) project is an interactive and comprehensive framework for Wisconsin communities to utilize in order to enhance resilience to the impacts associated with disruptions from climate change and other systemic shocks. The RWM is a collaboration of the project team throughout UW-Extension offices and student researchers at UW-Stevens Point. The goal of the project is to help communities identify critical elements within multiple themes, that when implemented, will increase their capacity to adapt to shocks and changes while being cost-effective and sustainable. Using a lens of equity and culture, the assessment will be organized into the following themes that contribute to community resilience: food and agricultural systems, built and natural environment, and energy systems. The RWM includes a self-assessment for communities to conduct to identify strengths and gaps in local systems and guides communities to resilience and preparedness concepts and actions. The RWM also includes a menu offering flexible approaches that will allow decision-makers to select strategies to build a customized resilience response that makes sense for their community’s unique environment, culture, and economy. Climate change impacts, such as increased drought and flooding, will be felt across WI communities, many of which may be vulnerable to and unaware of impacts. Other publications (Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, 2019) (Wisconsin’s Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2019) have sought to address this gap in readiness, but none that are so flexible to the needs of each specific Wisconsin community. For this poster, we will present the Built and Natural Environment sub-theme of the RWM. We have used resources from around the state and nation to create an assessment and compile a menu of possible strategies and supporting materials. We have structured the sub-theme around temperature and precipitation conditions, highlighting the corresponding impacts that will occur with fluctuations in precipitation and temperature that effect the diverse livelihoods and ecosystems of the surrounding built and natural environments. The RWM will be distributed through the UW-Extension system by using “Train the Trainer” workshops and will be made accessible via a website for community use to be more climate resilient.  

 HD3P- The effect of community health on community resilience

The effect of community health on community resilience
Sean Lapano & William Hutt

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Adviser(s): Dr. Anna Haines

Abstract: The ever-growing COVID-19 pandemic in America has given rise to many different social issues such as homelessness, health problems, and economic inequality. Past research has found that community resilience is a complex idea stretching across many different disciplines. The question the study aims to answer is what is the size of impact that current personal health/community health has on the resilience of the community? We already know of the impact that things such as infrastructure or economic stability has on community resilience. However, what is less studied is the impact of personal health issues such as obesity or drug usage on community resilience. To test the hypothesis that counties with lower health face more severe impacts from COVID-19, information was gathered from counties across the upper Midwest from their recent Community Health Improvement plans (CHIP). The findings are then compared with the metrics of how each county is affected by the current pandemic. Using different time frames from the beginning of the pandemic it is clear to see and chart how well a county is responding to the pandemic. We expect to see a negative correlation between counties with lower overall health and the increased impacts of COVID-19, however, the study is not yet complete.  

 HD4P- Resilient Wisconsin Menu, energy and efficiency sub-theme

Resilient Wisconsin Menu, energy and efficiency sub-theme
Calvin Dee

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Adviser(s): Dr. Anna Haines, Dr. Shiba Kar 

Abstract: The Resilient Wisconsin Menu (RWM) project is an interactive and comprehensive framework for Wisconsin communities to utilize in order to enhance resilience to the impacts associated with disruptions from climate change and other systemic shocks. The RWM is a collaboration of the project team throughout UW-Extension offices and student researchers at UW-Stevens Point. The goal of the project is to help communities identify critical elements within multiple themes, that when implemented, will increase their capacity to adapt to shocks and changes while being cost-effective and sustainable. Using a lens of equity and culture, the assessment will be organized into the following themes that contribute to community resilience: food and agricultural systems, built and natural environment, and energy systems. The RWM includes a self-assessment for communities to conduct to identify strengths and gaps in local systems and guides communities to resilience and preparedness concepts and actions. The RWM also includes a menu offering flexible approaches that will allow decision-makers to select strategies to build a customized resilience response that makes sense for their community’s unique environment, culture, and economy. Climate change impacts, such as increased drought and flooding, will be felt across WI communities, many of which may be vulnerable to and unaware of impacts. Other publications (Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, 2019) (Wisconsin’s Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2019) have sought to address this gap in readiness, but none that are so flexible to the needs of each specific Wisconsin community. For this poster, we will present the Energy and efficiency subtheme of the RWM. We have used resources from around the state and nation to create an assessment and compile a menu of possible strategies and supporting materials. We have created the energy and efficiency subtheme around the following topics: energy education, efficiency, generation, integration, and emission reduction. The RWM will be distributed through the UW-Extension system by using in “Train the Trainer” workshops for educators and will be accessible via a website for community use to be more climate resilient.

 HD5P- Geospatial Analysis of Residential Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Carbon Sequestering Properties of Local Natural Spaces

Geospatial Analysis of Residential Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Carbon Sequestering Properties of Local Natural Spaces
Ryan Michalesko

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Adviser(s): Dr. Anna Haines, Dr. Shiba Kar 

Abstract: The residential sector on average makes up about a quarter of Wisconsin’s total energy consumption (Energy Information Administration, 2018). Furthermore, Wisconsin ranks in the top three states for highest total energy consumption and the top ten for carbon dioxide emissions per square meter of residential space, according to data analyzed by researchers at the University of Michigan (Goldstein et al., 2020). The concept of local greenhouse gas inventory is ever evolving and often unreliable at the community scale. Since many of the mitigation efforts aimed at lowering and offsetting emissions are local in nature, it is crucial to gather data at this level. This project serves as a case study to develop a workflow to find community specific residential emissions information through remote sensing and geospatial dataset analysis. Using building footprint and height data from nearly 6,700 residential buildings, collected through geospatial analysis, this study illustrates the role that the residential sector plays in greenhouse gas emissions of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Additionally, by classifying the land cover types of area natural spaces, a comparison of emissions totals and the offsetting benefits of tree cover is possible. This analysis at the community level provides another data point for use when prioritizing strategic planning and conservation decisions.

 HD6P- Resilient Wisconsin Menu: Agriculture and Food Systems Subtheme

Resilient Wisconsin Menu: Agriculture and Food Systems Subtheme
Danni Brosend & Gregory Peterson

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Adviser(s): Dr. Anna Haines, Dr. Shiba Kar 

Abstract: The Resilient Wisconsin Menu (RWM) project is an interactive and comprehensive framework for Wisconsin communities to utilize in order to enhance resilience to the impacts associated with disruptions from climate change and other systemic shocks. The RWM is a collaboration of the project team throughout UW-Extension offices and student researchers at UW-Stevens Point. The goal of the project is to help communities identify critical elements within multiple themes, that when implemented, will increase their capacity to adapt to shocks and changes while being cost-effective and sustainable. Using a lens of equity and culture, the assessment will be organized into the following themes that contribute to community resilience: food and agricultural systems, built and natural environment, and energy systems. The RWM includes a self-assessment for communities to conduct to identify strengths and gaps in local systems and guides communities to resilience and preparedness concepts and actions. The RWM also includes a menu offering flexible approaches that will allow decision-makers to select strategies to build a customized resilience response that makes sense for their community’s unique environment, culture, and economy. Climate change impacts, such as increased drought and flooding, will be felt across WI communities, many of which may be vulnerable to and unaware of impacts. Other publications (Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, 2019) (Wisconsin’s Changing Climate: Impacts and Adaptation, 2019) have sought to address this gap in readiness, but none are so flexible to the needs of each specific Wisconsin community. For this poster, we will present the Food and Agricultural Systems subtheme of the RWM. We have used resources from around the state and nation to create an assessment and compile a menu of possible strategies and supporting materials. We have created the food and agricultural systems subtheme around the following topics: soil and water management, farm energy systems, food availability, food waste management, and climate-and-farm-friendly food systems. The RWM will be distributed through the UW-Extension system by using “Train the Trainer” workshops and will be made accessible via a website for community use to be more climate resilient.

 PAPR1P- Potential GHG Emissions Reductions From Biogas in Wisconsin

Potential GHG Emissions Reductions From Biogas in Wisconsin
Marcie Nelson

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shiba Kar

Abstract: Biogas is a renewable energy resource that results from the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, producing a gas similar to natural gas containing methane and carbon dioxide. Its production offsets methane emissions—having 21 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 100-year time frame— that would have occurred through the degradation of organic materials into the atmosphere, and its combustion and use as an energy resource offsets carbon dioxide emissions that would result from fossil fuel energy use. There are many other benefits of biogas production including useful coproducts, economic opportunity, and increased energy independence that are outside the scope of this study. Wisconsin is an excellent candidate for biogas production due to its large agricultural, dairy, and food processing sectors.
To the knowledge of the researcher, no study has assessed the total energy benefits and emissions reductions potential of biogas production and use in Wisconsin. This study aims to address this information gap through the performance of a mathematical aggregate analysis of the amount of fossil fuel electricity generation and greenhouse gas emissions that could be avoided through biogas production and use in Wisconsin. 
This study draws conclusions of total electricity generation and emissions reductions potentials from biogas in Wisconsin from the comparison of two scenarios: 1) Emissions from organic material degradation from sources including manure, wastewater, industrial food processing waste, and landfills and emissions from coal fired electricity generation continue as usual and 2) Biogas is produced and used for electricity generation, replacing emissions in Scenario 1 with the lesser emissions resulting from the combustion of biogas.
It is hypothesized that the study will reveal a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and that emissions reductions will be accompanied by an increase in renewable energy electricity generation for Wisconsin. This study may show that biogas potential in Wisconsin has been undervalued by policymakers, and that this value should be reflected in Wisconsin energy policy through further incentivizing biogas production across Wisconsin’s economic sectors. 


 SOIL1P- Will plant diversity improve soil quality and maximize carbon storage in a prairie restoration?

Will plant diversity improve soil quality and maximize carbon storage in a prairie restoration?
James O'Shea, John Haas, Arua de Castro Ferreira, Shannon O'Fallon

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Adviser(s): Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch

Abstract: Prairie restoration is the process of reestablishing prairie ecosystem structural, compositional, and functional components. Intimate to prairie restoration is the improvement of native plant diversity. Native plant diversity may have implications for carbon storage, which is a primary prairie ecosystem function. Furthermore, soil quality is critical to plant health and growth in restored  prairies. This study evaluated correlations between the plant diversity and soil quality in an experimental prairie restoration at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL USA. Soil quality for this project is defined as the soil’s functional capacity to store carbon. Soil cores were collected each of the 454 1 m2 plots which include differing levels of phylogenetic diversity.  The following soil core properties were described:  horizonation, description of color, structure (type and grade),  and redoximorphic features. These data were compiled into a soil quality index to relate the function of soil carbon storage. Correlation analyses will be performed to test whether a significant relation exists between soil quality and pant diversity on these plots.  We expect to find positive correlation between plant diversity and the soil quality index, and if so, our results would suggest plant diversity in prairie restoration is important for maximizing the ecosystem function of carbon storage in prairie restoration.  

 SOIL2P- Can Permanganate Oxidizable Carbon Differentiate Ecological Sites in Wisconsin?

Can Permanganate Oxidizable Carbon Differentiate Ecological Sites in Wisconsin? 
Adam Laehn & Mark Cook

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Adviser(s): Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch 

Abstract: Ecological site descriptions (ESD) are based on soil properties and distinctive types of vegetation. These ESDs relate ecosystem dynamics of natural succession and/or human management. Soil organic matter may be an optimal property to understand ESD dynamics. However, much of SOM is recalcitrant and a labile portion of the total SOM pool may better indicate ESD dynamics. Permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC) is a labile portion of SOM indicative of soil quality and responsive to disturbance and management. This study will focus on three ESDs in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin. Sandy floodplains occur near streams and lakes and are subjected to frequent flooding periods. Sandy outwash uplands has a broad range of soil characteristics but is characterized by very deep, well drained soils. Acidic poor fen is characterized by very poorly drained soils that have formed in moderate to deep organic materials of herbaceous origin. Total SOM and POXC will be determined on all horizons from five soil pedons in each of these three ESDs. An analysis of variance will be conducted to test whether total SOM and/or POXC differs in these ESDs. We hypothesize that differences in POXC among these ESDs will be greater than differences in total SOM. If this hypothesis is supported, our study will suggest that POXC might be a more indicative soil property to related ESD dynamics.

 SOIL3P- Soil Organic Matter Can Predict Soil Color in Wisconsin Central Sands Region

Soil Organic Matter Can Predict Soil Color in Wisconsin Central Sands Region 
Teresa Wolf, Jacob Buettner, Hunter Lemler, Emily Yulga

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Adviser(s): Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch

Abstract: Soil organic matter (SOM) is a key property that affects soil quality and ecosystem services.  Laboratory analyses to measure SOM can be time-consuming and expensive, however, developing a field method would be practical for in-field use.  Our objective is to identify a relationship between SOM and value (light and dark measurement) of the Munsell soil color system.  We hypothesize that if SOM percentage is greater, then color value will be lesser.  We also hypothesize that grouping samples by master horizons will improve our ability to predict SOM by color value.  The soil profiles we studied are from the Wisconsin Central Sands Region (107 profiles, 640 samples).  Soil color was evaluated with a Chroma Meter (Konica Minolta CR-400) and SOM was determined by loss on ignition.  We expect that our relationships between SOM and color value will weaken as influences on color value by organic matter, parent material, and wetness become stronger.  These relationships will assist in creating a practical method to estimate SOM in the field, which will allow for efficient management decisions for soil quality and ecosystem services. 

 SOIL4P- Composting Deactivation of CWD Prions: Preliminary Results

Composting Deactivation of CWD Prions: Preliminary Results
Amber Smith, Susanna Baker, Jonathan Girard

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Adviser(s): Dr. Rob Michitsch, Alex Thomas

Abstract: Through hunting, slaughtering or ingestion of CWD infected cervids, exposure to specified risk materials is considered an exposure route to prions that might lead to infection. Prions cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) diseases in animals and humans. The composting process has proven effective for the biodegradation of recalcitrant organic contaminants, and the high number of microorganisms and high temperatures achieved during composting have prompted interest in this process for inactivating prions; however, literature on survival of prions in composting systems is limited. Since thermophilic temperatures do not definitively cause pathogen reduction, multi-barrier approaches are employed to improve pathogen inactivation. As such, primary-phase duration, C-substrate, anaerobic conditions, drying, storage, antagonistic microorganisms, ammonia evolution, microbial inoculants and other degradation methods have been used to establish an unstable habitat for pathogen survival. Compost piles offer or complement these different approaches, which may prove useful to degrade infectious prions. 

 SOIL5P- Analysis of Key Soil Nutrients and Physical Properties on a Managed Grazing Operation in Junction City, WI

Analysis of Key Soil Nutrients and Physical Properties on a Managed Grazing Operation in Junction City, WI
Emily Yulga, Candra Carter, Noelle Vallee

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Adviser(s): Dr. Daniel Keymer, Dr. Rob Michitsch, Dr. Jacob Prater, Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch, Alyssa Gunderson

Abstract: Rotational grazing is an agricultural practice that provides long-term ecological and soil benefits. Our project objective is to assess soil quality on a rotational grazing farm over a 20-year period. We hypothesize that the temporally longer a field is rotationally grazed, the more improved soil quality and greater fertility there will be. This long-term research project, conducted through the UW-Stevens Point Soil and Water Conservation Society, analyzes a rotationally grazed operation in Junction City, Wisconsin. The fields are broken up into five-acre parcels, and grid points are randomly allotted to each parcel. A control field is also sampled, which is not rotationally grazed, as well as newly converted conventionally farmed fields. Soil samples (6”) were collected within a ten-meter radius around each grid point in fall 2015. Physical and chemical testing has been completed for 2015 soil samples, which includes: bulk density, Carbon: Nitrogen ratio, total Carbon and Nitrogen, pH, Phosphorus, Potassium, Electrical Conductivity, organic matter, and biomass yield data collection.  Fields are to be resampled every four years and tested for the same soil properties as listed above. 2019 samples are currently undergoing testing with bulk density, pH, and organic matter completed. Testing of 2019 samples will conclude in fall 2023, when resampling will occur again.  

 WATR3P- Benthic macroinvertebrate community responses to wastewater treatment plant discharges in Central Wisconsin

Benthic macroinvertebrate community responses to wastewater treatment plant discharges in Central Wisconsin
Isabel Dunn

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Adviser(s): Dr. Kyle Herrman, Jeff Dimick

Abstract: Municipal wastewater treatment plants provide necessary services for municipalities and receiving waters through removing contaminants from wastewater and converting it into an effluent that can be returned to the environment. Effluents from wastewater treatment plants can negatively affect the water quality of receiving waterbodies. It is important to assess the impacts from these additions to better manage water quality for both humans and aquatic ecosystems. Changes in water quality are often expressed by the benthic macroinvertebrate community. Because these organisms respond to anthropogenic impacts in predictable ways, examination of macroinvertebrate community metrics can provide valuable insights on the ecological condition of these waterways. Macroinvertebrates were kick net sampled both upstream and downstream from the discharge point of four mid-sized wastewater treatment facilities in central Wisconsin. Basic water chemistry and physical stream characteristics were also recorded at each sample location. Family-level taxonomies were used to compute metrics based on community composition, richness, tolerance, and trophic function. One-way ANOVAs will be used to determine if significant differences exist between macroinvertebrate metrics upstream and downstream of the discharge from wastewater treatment plants. Stream chemical and physical measurements will also be examined to explain metric responses. I hypothesize that the aquatic macroinvertebrate metrics will reflect a decrease in water quality downstream of the wastewater treatment plants. 

 WATR4P- The Potential for Inter-planting to Reduce Nitrate Leaching to Groundwater in Agriculture Farm Fields in Central Wisconsin

The Potential for Inter-planting to Reduce Nitrate Leaching to Groundwater in Agriculture Farm Fields in Central Wisconsin
Nicholas Koschak

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Adviser(s): Kevin Masarik

Abstract: Many modern day agriculture farms use some form a fertilizer, particularly nitrogen based fertilizer, to maximize profit margins. However, not all of the nitrogen is used, some is leached to groundwater as nitrate; which in Wisconsin is a widespread drinking water contaminant. This study looked at the potential for inter-planting or cover crops (CC) in a potato field to reduce this leaching. A mixture of three types of vegetation (oats, rye, and pearl millet) were planted in furrows between potato rows at a farm near Plover Wisconsin. Canopy cover and vegetation height of the companion vegetation were then measured until end of year harvest. The resulting biomass from both the potato crop and companion vegetation were measured and then sampled for total nitrogen content to determine nitrogen accumulation differences between treatments. This data will be used to estimate the potential of inter-planting companion vegetation to reduce nitrate leaching to groundwater. The results of this study provide insight into the viability and potential benefits of this practice.

 WATR5P- Using acesulfame to determine septic system impact to Wisconsin lakes

Using acesulfame to determine septic system impact to Wisconsin lakes
Hannah Lukasik

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Adviser(s): Dr. Paul McGinley, Amy Nitka

Abstract: Artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame in groundwater are helpful indicators of human waste source contamination in water. Acesulfame enters the groundwater through septic system effluent and is later carried to surface waters. Acesulfame’s slow rate of decay allows for it to persist in groundwater and to be found in measurable concentrations in lakes across Wisconsin.  The purpose of this study is to determine the relative contribution of septic system effluent to the water budget of a lake by measuring the concentrations of acesulfame in lake water. Since septic system usage and impact on surface water quality is difficult to estimate, we sought to develop a chemical method that accurately quantifies the concentration of acesulfame in the water and reveals the impact of septic system drainage to the lakes’ water budgets. Laboratory methods were refined to improve the recovery of acesulfame through solid phase extraction by pH adjustment and addition of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) with liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC/MS) analysis. In this study, surface water samples were collected from lakes in central Wisconsin. The concentrations of acesulfame from the lakes will be compared to septic system density and groundwater inflow. Lakes near areas with high septic system density relative to the amount of the lake’s inflow are expected to contain higher concentrations of acesulfame.  

 WILD10P- Comparing Mercury Levels of Red-Shouldered Hawks to Body Condition in Central Wisconsin

Comparing Mercury Levels of Red-Shouldered Hawks to Body Condition in Central Wisconsin
Emmaline Belling & Alison Anthony

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Marie Perkins, Matthew Hanneman

Abstract:  In Wisconsin, red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) are listed as a threatened species (Wisconsin DNR 2012). This status is primarily due to anthropogenic activities such as timber harvesting, development, and wetland draining (Bednarz and Dinsmore 1982, Jacobs and Jacobs 2002, McLeod et al. 2000). Among raptors, red-shouldered hawks are unusual in that reptiles and amphibians comprise a large portion of their diet. Population declines also may be attributed to environmental contaminants, like mercury (Hg). Mercury is a pervasive contaminant that poses a threat to environmental health (UNEP 2019, Gilmour et al. 2013), and birds can be important indicator species for contaminants across environments (Jackson et al. 2015). In addition, mercury concentrations in birds can have negative effects on reproduction, neurochemistry, physiology, and behavior (Scheuhammer et al. 2007).  Mercury concentrations  have been studied in large birds of prey that consume primarily fish (Carlson et al. 2012), but mercury levels in species that consume more semi-aquatic prey are not well understood (Bourbour et al. 2019). Our goal is to compare mercury levels of individual red-shouldered hawks to their mass and fat score as an indication of body condition. We believe that individuals with higher levels of mercury will have poorer body condition compared to those with lower mercury levels. Red-shouldered hawk nests were located from March to May 2020, and sampled while nestlings were still present in June of 2020. Blood and feather samples were collected, along with mass, tail length, wing cord, and fat scores. Mercury levels will be determined by testing the blood and feather samples. Determining the extent to which red-shouldered hawks are being affected by mercury will help us understand how mercury levels are changing within the environment, and how we can better manage wildlife affected by mercury contamination. 

 WILD11P- Post-Release Movement and Behavior of Rehabilitated Orphan Black Bears

Post-Release Movement and Behavior of Rehabilitated Orphan Black Bears
Jacob Bergstrand, Hayden Walkush, Quinn Erdmann, Samuel Andres, Ashley Skalitzky, Dan Ruka

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Adviser(s): Dr. Cady Sartini

Abstract: In Wisconsin, orphaned American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) cubs, can be cared for by two Wisconsin DNR authorized wildlife rehabilitation centers. The species has a strong state-wide adoration and supports a deep-rooted hunting tradition; therefore, it has been in the state’s best interest to place orphaned cubs into rehabilitation centers for future release. This is done to maintain a black bear population that fulfills ecological, social, and cultural desires. The long-term goal of our project is to evaluate the movement patterns, behavior, and survival of orphaned black bears post-release. In October of 2019, two female cubs were released into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The two bears had VHF collars placed on them to allow for tracking via radio telemetry until they denned for winter. Den visits were then conducted in order to place GPS collars on the two bears. Using ArcGIS, we created a map of all the telemetry points and GPS coordinates to report the movement patterns and habitat selection of the two bears. Due to mortality soon after spring emergence and a low frequency of telemetry triangulation the previous fall, there was not enough data collected to evaluate the behavioral significance of the movements. Despite initial roadblocks, the long-term goal of the project remains steadfast. The project already owns two GPS collars and hopes to obtain more in the future to ensure consistent data collection across multiple individuals. The future information collected will better inform the state on how orphaned bears integrate into the north woods landscape.

 WILD12P- Capture Probability of Female and Male Southern Flying Squirrels in Schmeeckle Reserve

Capture Probability of Female and Male Southern Flying Squirrels in Schmeeckle Reserve
Tess Bigalke, Amber Smith, Katie Stough

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Benjamin Sedinger

Abstract: The southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is one of two species of flying squirrel found in North America. It is found in all of Eastern North America, ranging from Florida to Southeastern Canada. Previous research from various areas in the Eastern United States has shown that female flying squirrels are much more territorial than males. This appears to be a trend in Schmeeckle Reserve, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, as well. We are attempting to discover why, out of seven individuals we trapped this season, only one of them was a female. We also only recaptured this female one time, for a total of two captures. Some of the male squirrels were captured as many as fifteen times. Flying squirrels have two mating seasons each year, the first from January to April and the second from June to August. Our trapping season began on September 10th, 2020. We believe that the ending of the mating season overlapping with our trapping season is an explanation for the low capture probability of females. We utilized a pulley system to hoist sherman traps, baited with a peanut butter-granola mixture, into twenty different trees. Our trapping grid was in the Berard Oaks of Schmeeckle Reserve. We checked traps approximately five hours after they were set, but later in the trapping season after temperatures dropped, the traps were checked about three hours after they were set. During our trapping season, female flying squirrels are still nursing their young, as their offspring are not independent until they reach four months of age. When female flying squirrels are raising their young they build a secondary nest. They do not allow any other squirrels, even males, within immediate vicinity of the nest. Male southern flying squirrels play no role in raising young, so their activity level is not changed by the end of the mating season. Females also have a smaller home range than males. Female home ranges are approximately 4,050 square meters while males’ are around 6,000 square meters.

 WILD13P- Anomalously High Activity of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) on Chambers Island, Door County, WI

Anomalously High Activity of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) on Chambers Island, Door County, WI
Jonathon Sicinski, Hannah Klopotek, Parker Witt, Avantika D'Cruz, Rachel Dooley

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Adviser(s): Dr. Christopher Yahnke

Abstract: Bats are a fundamental component of Wisconsin’s natural ecosystem. They are key to controlling insect populations, especially during the summer. During these summer months, bats are active and highly vocal as they navigate and hunt insects. This project uses stationary high-frequency acoustic recording devices to remotely monitor the bat activity on Chambers Island. Chambers Island is located 10.8 kilometers northwest of the Fish Creek Harbor in Door County. The island habitat is unique, containing wetlands and forests, which provides important habitat for wildlife, specifically bat populations. Species richness of bats can be related to the area and isolation of islands, especially those with dense vegetation. This relationship may arise from the optimal foraging strategies and patch-use decision making (Frick et. al 2007). The Chambers Island acoustic data is compared to data collected from non-island acoustic recording devices located in Marshfield, WI and Kemp Natural Resource Station in Woodruff, WI. Myotis lucifugus activity is identified by Kaleidoscope Pro auto-identification software based on the bat’s call frequency. The comparison of the Chambers Island data to the other stations illustrated that there is more Myotis lucifugus activity on Chambers Island. In 2018, much bat activity was detected on the island. Active bat boxes were found with guano underneath them. In 2019, a private landowner sponsored a bat detector which gave us data for the summers of 2019 and 2020. The data showed an increase of the activity of little brown bat activity, as well as northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) activity. 


 WILD14P- Utilizing Molecular Analyses to Identify Helminth Communities of Waterfowl

Utilizing Molecular Analyses to Identify Helminth Communities of Waterfowl
Reece Mullen & Michaela Meehl

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Adviser(s): Dr. Robert Jadin, Dr. Sarah Orlofske

Abstract: Biodiversity surveys are the foundation of community ecology. In order to fully understand species interactions, it is necessary to first properly identify the organisms in the environment. This is especially true for parasite communities, where surveys are lacking, leaving gaps in the understanding of parasite ecology. Taxonomic resolution in parasite surveys has steadily decreased due to the loss of experts who can properly identify the parasites to the species level using only morphology. One potential solution is to use molecular analyses to identify parasite species as the framework for continued monitoring of parasite populations through environmental changes. The objectives of this project are to analyze the DNA from helminth parasites collected from waterfowl in Green Bay, WI to confirm the identity of known and possible new species. Waterfowl are ideal hosts for our research because their diet and habitat choices result in high infection rates of many parasites by consuming the parasites’ intermediate host. We sequenced approximately 850 to 1,000 bases of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS 1—5.8S—ITS 2) for molecular phylogenetic analysis. This gene region provides high homology between the species while maintaining a high mutation rate because they do not contribute to the function of the ribosome. They are therefore useful molecular markers to distinguish species. To date, we have dissected 5 species of ducks (n=18) and collected 58 parasite samples. Forty-five gene sequences were successfully amplified from what we believe to be 21 morphotypes (11 Echinostomes, 4 Strigeids, 1 Zygocotyle, 1 Cyclocelid,  4 Unkown/Other). This study illustrates the utility of molecular data in wildlife biodiversity surveys, especially for taxa that are difficult to identify using traditional morphological methods. 

 WILD15P- The Influence of Prescribed Burning on Small Mammal Diversity

The Influence of Prescribed Burning on Small Mammal Diversity
Jacob Bergstrand 

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Adviser(s): Dr. Christopher Yahnke

Abstract: Prescribed fire can be utilized as a management tool to maintain habitat for wildlife in different ecosystems. One of the most common ecosystems to the Midwest, which is now extremely rare and depends on prescribed fire, it is the oak savannas. This is a grassland that is sparsely dominated by an oak overstory. Historically, oak savannas provided prime habitat for important game species as well as smaller mammals. Now many endangered animals and plant species inhabit the oak savannas. The focus of this study was to trap small mammals in two dissimilar locations that one being an area treated with a seven-year prescribed burn rotation and the other area non-treated. The study was done at Schmeeckle Reserve in the fall of 2020. Small mammals were present in both units which were dominated by the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) and the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus). In the unit with prescribed burning, we saw more small mammals and a more diverse range of the small mammals that were present. Small mammal abundance and diversity was affected using fire for maintaining oak savanna ecosystems.

 WILD16P- Selection of nest boxes by cavity nesting waterfowl based on diameter at breast height in Mead Wildlife Area

Selection of nest boxes by cavity nesting waterfowl based on diameter at breast height in Mead Wildlife Area
Elianne Heilhecker, Casey Kroening, Aiden Gehrke, Victoria Fasbender

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Adviser(s): Dr. Benjamin Sedinger

Abstract: Cavity nesting birds rely on nest boxes in areas where natural cavities are not available. In Wisconsin, specifically the Mead Wildlife Area in Marathon County, Lophodytes cucullatus (Hooded merganser) and Aix sponsa (Wood ducks) use nesting cavities or boxes for their eggs; however, the use rate and number of young produced may be declining. To evaluate a potential factor affecting nest box use at the Mead, we examined selection and success of wood duck and hooded merganser nests based on diameter at breast height (DBH) of the tree nest boxes were affixed to. Data on use and success were collected at the Mead Wildlife Area by the UWSP Wildlife Society, and DBH data was collected in 2019. 130 boxes were checked annually in January and February by opening the boxes, removing, and examining the contents, and recording any type of use. Previous research conducted in central Minnesota concluded that wood ducks specifically did not use trees with a DBH less than 20 cm (Gilmer et al. 1978), and work done by Bellrose, Johnson and Meyers quantified natural cavity dimensions. Our study found no selection preference related to DBH but had much higher success rate for boxes mounted on poles rather than trees.  Our goal is to inform science-based decisions on where to place nest boxes to be the most effective.

 WILD17P- Occupancy Modeling of Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in Schmeeckle Reserve

Occupancy Modeling of Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in Schmeeckle Reserve
Marinn Champeau, Alyssa Johnson, Sam Sodke

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Benjamin Sedinger

Abstract: The Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) is a nocturnal small mammal commonly found in hardwood forests throughout the eastern United States. Because of their highly arboreal nature, flying squirrels are not as susceptible to trapping with protocols commonly used for other small mammals. Traps used for flying squirrels are more fixed than other methods. We used occupancy modelling to determine how trap location influences likelihood of catching a squirrel in each trap. We set traps at 20 trap sites in the Berard Oaks area of Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point, WI. Sherman traps were baited at 5pm and checked at 10pm from September 9, 2020 to October 14, 2020, roughly 4 times per week. Upon capture, squirrels were weighed, sexed, ear tagged, and released on site. After 21 nights of trapping, 8 squirrels were captured 40 times. We fit occupancy models to estimate detection and occupancy probabilities in Excel. Across our 20 trap sites, 66% were occupied (Ψ=0.66). Occupancy probability at each site ranged from 0.0359 to 1, and the number of trapping occasions per site ranged from 0 to 5. On any given night, we had a 15% chance of capturing a squirrel in any trap. Future research will focus on which habitat characteristics such as presence of tree cavities, food resources, and canopy cover influence likelihood of trapping a squirrel at each trap site.

 WILD18P- Population Estimate of Urban Eastern Gray Squirrels in Schmeeckle Reserve

Population Estimate of Urban Eastern Gray Squirrels in Schmeeckle Reserve
Maddie Hartlaub, Rebecca Funk, Kaylee Woelfel, Adam Tess, Nicole Luoma, Noah Andexler

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Benjamin Sedinger 

Abstract: The Eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is commonly found in forests and in urban settings, where densities of gray squirrels can be quite high. In addition, gray squirrels in city limits in urban parks are not hunted, so the likelihood that a squirrel survives each year is high can be high when compared to hunted populations. We trap gray squirrels in Schmeeckle Reserve to calculate population estimates for urban squirrels. In 2020, the population estimate of gray squirrels in the Reserve was 55 individuals, but site, time of day, and sex influenced capture. In 2021, we anticipate that many squirrels trapped and tagged in 2020 will be re-caught and that the population estimate will be similar to 2020. We are trapping squirrels in two sites of Schmeeckle Reserve and recording age, sex, and weight of the squirrels as well as marking them with numbered ear tags. We also will be recording environmental variables such as temperature and cloud cover to determine their influence on trap success. Traps will be open between 0°F and 40°F and checked at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm to reduce the risk of hypothermia from snow melt. Trapping will not occurs below freezing temperatures for animal welfare purposes. We will be using MARK to calculate an updated population estimate. We anticipate that more squirrels will be caught on days with little cloud cover and when temperatures range between 15°F and 40°F. Results will help future squirrel trappers set traps when squirrels are more likely to be trapped. 

 WILD19P- Intoxication cases in passerines and near-passerines through eight years of avian rehabilitation in Northern Wisconsin

Intoxication cases in passerines and near-passerines through eight years of avian rehabilitation in Northern Wisconsin
Melinda Houtman

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Jason Riddle

Abstract: Insecticides are applied to millions of acres of land in the United States each year. Some organophosphate insecticides like DDT are banned in the United States due to environmental and health concerns. Many other insecticides are used liberally despite little research into their impacts on native wildlife. During the summer of 2020, staff at Raptor Education Group Inc., a wildlife rehabilitation center in Antigo, Wisconsin noticed a drastic increase in songbirds showing signs of poisoning.  While the true cause of these poisoning cases remains unknown, insecticides are suspected given the behaviors exhibited by the birds. I conducted an analysis of eight years of patient records to determine trends. Many of the songbird species examined are primarily insectivorous. When birds consume contaminated insects, poisons can bioaccumulate and eventually kill the animal. Few treatment options exist for poisoned birds once they begin showing symptoms so the best method to prevent these cases is to limit insecticide use in the environment. 

 WILD20P- Wildlife-vehicle collision frequency of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiarius) in association with temporal variation in central Wisconsin

Wildlife-vehicle collision frequency of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiarius) in association with temporal variation in central Wisconsin
Brilyn Brecka, Jeffrey Edwards, Beau Schartner

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Adviser(s): Dr. Shelli Dubay, Dr. Marie Perkins

Abstract: Wildlife-vehicle collisions are common throughout the state of Wisconsin, and white-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) account for a large majority of these accidents. As we see wildlife populations grow, we see the inflicted damage on vehicles and injuries to motorists rise (Messmer 2009). Drivers are especially on edge during the fall months because of increased breeding behavior of male deer. This led us to question whether the time of year affects the amount of roadkill white-tailed deer we see on a given road. To answer this question, we surveyed county roads in central Wisconsin throughout the month of November, enabling us to test if there is a positive correlation in the quantity of roadkill deer observed as the Julian Calendar day increased. The study took place within a 48.28 kilometer buffer around the city of Stevens Point, WI where we selected ten independent roads to survey. With data from these roads, we calculated the average number of new deer/kilometer (km) each week and used a linear regression to observe the relationship between the two variables (deer/km and time). We predicted a significant increase in frequency of roadkill deer associated with Julian Calendar day. This observational experiment temporally examined if there is an increase in roadkill deer frequency as the fall season progresses. After running a regression test, we concluded that there were no significant relationships between our two variables, however, a multivariate analysis of several other factors could yield significant results. There are also several management implications for this type of study; improved signage, fencing, motorist education, deductions in deer populations, or other management solutions could reduce the risks of deer-vehicle collisions in the future.

 WILD21P- Preliminary Study into how Cover Type Adjacent to Home Range Affects Drumming Patterns in Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Northern Wisconsin

Preliminary Study into how Cover Type Adjacent to Home Range Affects Drumming Patterns in Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) in Northern Wisconsin
Brady Roberts, Logan Cutler, Catrina Johnson, Phillip Maguire

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Adviser(s): Dr. Jason Riddle

Abstract: Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are an important game bird in the Great Lakes region. Males perform a unique drumming display atop fallen logs to attract females and maintain their territory throughout the spring. Drumming activity is routinely performed on the same log, facing the same direction. As a part of the UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society, our undergraduate research project aims to evaluate drumming patterns of Ruffed Grouse in Northern Wisconsin. Telemetry was conducted between March and June of 2019. In a previous study, home range sizes and drumming log locations were identified. Analysis revealed that the majority of drumming logs were positioned within ten meters of the home range edge and drumming primarily faced out of the home range. Because of this, adjacent habitat may be affecting drumming activity. This project plans to examine the land cover types that occur in the direction of drumming efforts to identify any consistency using Locate 3.11 and ArcMap. These aspects will be analyzed within ArcMap using the land cover map of Treehaven. Using these methods, we hope to see whether male Ruffed Grouse are focusing drumming activity on particular resources and land cover types in order to attract mates or best establish breeding territory. This information will be used to influence habitat management decisions on the Treehaven property and other Ruffed Grouse management areas. 

 WILD22P- Effects separation has on the behavior of captive African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus)

Effects separation has on the behavior of captive African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus)
Lauren Welvaert

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Adviser(s): Darian Livanec, Dallas Zoo Carnivore Team

Abstract: Due to the species' reclusive nature in the wild and their endangered status, little data has been collected to understand African Wild Dog pack dynamics and behavior. This study focuses on how the absence of a male member of the Dallas Zoos’ small African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) pack, named Mzingo, affects the amount of time his brother and littermate, Jata, spent alone with the newly introduced female, Cholula. Tensions were high over how the brothers might react to the presence of the new female due to a previous attempt in 2019 to introduce an older female, Olah, which ended in a fatal incident. After the initial introduction of Cholula to the brothers, small scuffles and chases with the new female as the target led to zoologists making the decision to separate Mzingo from the pack. The null hypothesis, “Mzingos absence had no effect on the time Jata spent with Cholula and the time Cholula spent with Jata,” was created to better understand the influence Mzingo’s presence had on Cholula and Jata’s  relationship. Interns collected data from the roof of the carnivore building which overlooked the Wild Dog habitat. This allowed for optimum visibility and the ability to collect auditory behaviors that would be missed on security cameras. Collected behavioral data was split into three categories: Before Mzingos Separation, During Mzingos Separation, and After Mzingos Separation. A t-test was performed to understand the statistical significance of how the separation affected Jata and Cholulas relationship. This data can be used for future reference by other captive facilities facing similar challenges, and provides zoologists the opportunity to decide if separation is the solution to their struggles. Since the end of the data collection period and internship, the dogs have been reportedly doing well.

 WILD23P- Parasite Communities in Populations of Greater and Lesser Scaup in Green Bay, WI

Parasite Communities in Populations of Greater and Lesser Scaup in Green Bay, WI
Allison Luebke, Nicole Lueck, Gina Magro

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Adviser(s): Dr. Sarah Orlofske

Abstract: Across North America Greater and Lesser Scaup populations have declined over the last few decades. In Wisconsin, major die offs of scaup along the Mississippi River have been linked to non-native trematode (flatworm) parasites. Scaup have diverse and abundant parasite communities because of their habitat use, behavior and diet. Our research goal is to survey parasites of scaup, including potentially pathogenic trematodes, in the Green Bay, WI area since very little data has been collected on scaup parasites in this region of the state. We predict that scaup with higher parasite loads could potentially suffer from pathology or mortality. We obtained waterfowl carcasses donated from hunters during the 2019 and 2020 season. A total of 20 birds were dissected into their major organs and each was inspected for parasites using standardized protocols. Any parasites we found were separated by major taxonomic group, counted, and identified the lowest taxonomic level possible using morphological traits. We found a diversity of different parasites in scaup with cestodes (tapeworms) being the most abundant endoparasites. Arthropods including lice and mites were detected on feathers. Specimens from the Phyla Acanthocephala and Nematoda were also identified. In our focal parasite group of trematodes, we found representatives of 9 families and all three of the pathogenic introduced trematodes: Leyogonimus sp., Cyathocotyle sp. and Sphaeridotrema sp. The average number of parasites in females was only slightly higher than males with a total of 95 and compared to 81. Our research uncovered a high diversity and abundance of parasites within the scaup population. Our future goals include comparing our parasite inventory to published data for scaup from other regions. Monitoring parasites in scaup is important for waterfowl management to better describe the distribution of pathogenic species as well as understand the species interactions with the native parasite community.  

 WILD24P- Comparison of Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) Frequency and the Prey Availability in Schmeeckle Reserve

Comparison of Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) Frequency and the Prey Availability in Schmeeckle Reserve
Michaela Meehl, Carter Freymiller, Aiden Gehrke, Madison Fell, Cole Suckow

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Adviser(s): Dr. Jason Riddle

Abstract: The Northern saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) (NSWO) is a mesopredator within upland ecosystems. NSWOs migrate in the fall from September until December, peaking around mid-October, and this species is relatively abundant in central Wisconsin during this time. Trapping data were collected at Schmeeckle Reserve, a 280-acre nature area and wildlife refuge located north of the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point campus. Research and data collection recently began on the property during the Fall of 2020. Within the 2020 NSWO trapping season, 20 NSWOs were captured using call-playback devices and mist-nets. NSWOs were banded using USGS aluminum leg bands. Team members recorded wing and tail chords, weight, age, and sex of birds with each capture. Previous studies have found that rodents account for 84.5% of Saw-whet Owl diets. 67.7% of the diet consisted of deer mice (Peromyscus leucopus and P. maniculatus), 16.1% voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus and M. ochrogaster), and 8.6% shrews (Blarina brevicauda and Sorex cinereus). NSWOs also ate songbirds, insects, and bats, which accounted for 7.6% of the remaining dietary components. The Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society - Small Mammal Project, trapped prey species including white-footed mice, southern flying squirrels, red-backed voles, and eastern chipmunks within Schmeeckle Reserve. The literature sourced indicates some of these species are critical components of the saw-whet diet. Therefore, we hypothesized that we would see a positive correlation between the owls captured and the number of small mammals trapped in Schmeeckle throughout the season.

 WILD25P- The Habits and Behavior of a Captive Alligator snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) before and after an enclosure renovation

The Habits and Behavior of a Captive Alligator snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) before and after an enclosure renovation
Joseph Cannizzaro & Sara Haroldsen

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Adviser(s): Dr. Cady Sartini

Abstract: The Alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is the largest freshwater turtle in the United States (Ernst and lovich 2009.). It is widely kept in zoos around the world. Despite this fact, there are little studies on the captive behavior and activity of this chelonian. In order to Decrease stress and improve general welfare, a proper enclosure fitted to a species natural history attributes is needed (Fabreges and Guillon-Salazar 2011.). Providing this kind of enclosure is one of the UW- Stevens Point (UWSP) Herpetology Society’s main goals for its animal collection. Our goal was to document the behaviors of a captive adult Alligator Snapping Turtle before and after it was transferred from a barren 75-gallon stock aquarium to a naturalistic 400-gallon stock aquarium. Over thirty hours of video footage was taken before and after the individual was transferred. Random 10-minute clips of each recording were then analyzed via instantaneous sampling, wherein at the end of every minute a behavioral code was assigned to document the species behavior. Overall, prior to the move, M. temminckii moved very little and exhibited sedentary behaviors including resting and extending the head out of the water to breathe .When transferred to a larger bioactive enclosure, a variety of behaviors were observed, including swimming, active foraging, digging, tongue wiggling, and basking. These active behaviors were observed with greater frequency in the hours just after the move, and began to decrease in prevalence throughout the study period. This decrease in activity suggests the turtle became acclimated to the enclosure.  
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