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One of the traditional methods of determining the dietary preferences of owls relies upon the identification of bony remains of prey contained in regurgitated pellets. Discovery of a pellet containing a large, complete primary feather from an adult, male Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) prompted us to examine in detail a small sample of pellets from a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). Our analyses of feather and hair remains in these pellets documented the presence of three species of birds and two species of mammals, whereas bones in the pellets represented only mammals. This finding indicates an important bias that challenges the reliability of owl pellet studies making use of only osteological remains.
To provide a method for estimating fish size from fish otoliths for forensic applications or other predictive uses, morphometric measurements were obtained from three centrarchid fishes (pumpkinseed [Lepomis gibbosus], rock bass [Ambloplites rupestris], and smallmouth bass [Micropterus dolomieu]), two percids (yellow perch [Perca flavescens] and walleye [Stizostedion vitreum]), and one clupeid (alewife [Alosa pseudoharengus]) from the eastern basin of Lake Ontario. These species are the principal or economically important prey of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), whose diet can be determined from regurgitated digestive pellets containing fish otoliths. A fuller understanding of the ecosystem roles of cormorants requires estimation of prey-fish size, obtainable from regressions of otolith length on fish length. Up to 100 fish of each species were collected from eastern Lake Ontario and measured for total length and otolith length. Least-squares regressions of otolith length on fish length were calculated for all species, covering life-stage ranges of immature fish to large adults near maximum known size. The regressions with 95% confidence intervals may be applicable outside the Lake Ontario ecosystem if used with caution.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) is a rare to uncommon CITES Appendix II-listed perennial plant species that is harvested from the wild to supply the herbal trade. Harvest seasons for American ginseng are intended to coincide with berry ripening in the species. However, geographic patterns of harvest seasons among states suggest they may not be tied to ripening phenology. In this study, we experimentally established the relationship between berry color and subsequent seed germination 1.5 years later in a natural population. We then monitored berry ripening August 15, September 1, and September 15 in 31 populations across much of ginseng's natural range. We found no biological basis for state-to-state differences in harvest seasons, and clear evidence that in some states the harvest season is set too early to ensure full berry ripening. Variation among years was examined in a subset of populations: Results from that analysis do not alter the conclusion that improvement in ginseng management could be achieved by establishing biologically based harvest seasons.
Bear oak bushes (Quercus ilicifolia) have an inside-outside architecture where there is a set of leaves partially or completely concealed within the bush by an exterior set of leaves. We examine the impact of this architecture on microhabitat differences that are important to insect herbivores. Furthermore, we document the patterns of usage by plant-feeding insects on the inside and outside of the bush in different areas of the pine barrens of Long Island, NY. We show that there is more leaf-chewing damage and more galls of the Cynipid wasp, Amphibilops ilicifolia, on the outside of the plant. This inside-outside pattern for leaf-chewing damage is consistent across different sites, though the degree of difference between the inside and outside varies by location. We suggest that the observed herbivory pattern may be generated by differential larval performance on the inside vs. the outside leaves, differential ovipositional choice between the inside vs. the outside of the bush, or both.
Syntopic occurrence of the erythristic morph of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) and the red eft stage of the Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) was documented. Pauley et al. (2001) previously reported the occurrence of the erythristic morph at this site in northern Pennsylvania, but were not able to verify the presence of N. viridescens. The erythristic morph was found at the three plots surveyed and represented 35.2% of the P. cinereus counted in this study.
We report on a six-year study (1994–1999) of a diverse turtle assemblage in Gallatin County, IL. Ten species of freshwater turtles representing four families were recorded. Species richness increased as a function of trap hours, with 3000 trap hours required to capture all species. The greatest density and biomass was for Trachemys scripta. Pseudemys concinna ranked second in density, but Chelydra serpentina ranked second highest in biomass. Females comprised the majority of the biomass in emydids, biomass ratios were even in Sternotherus odoratus, and males comprised the majority of the biomass in C. serpentina. Relative abundance did not significantly differ among the six years, although some uncommon species were not captured in all years.
The family Notonectidae occurs throughout North America and has been previously reported from all provinces and territories in Canada (except Nunavut) and 48 of the United States (only New Hampshire and Alaska lacked records). We report this family from New Hampshire for the first time. It is represented by 10 species in two genera: Buenoa confusa, B. limnocastoris, B. macrotibialis, B. margaritacea, Notonecta insulata, N. irrorata, N. petrunkevitchi, N. lunata, N. uhleri, and N. undulata. A list of additional species that may occur in the state is also provided.
We examined the growth characteristics of 303 Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus, caught in the commercial fishery off the New Jersey coast from 1992 to 1994 (fork length range: 93–219 cm). Sections taken from the leading pectoral fin ray were used to age each sturgeon. Ages ranged from 5–26 years. Von Bertalanffy growth models for males and females fit well, but test statistics (t-test, maximum likelihood) failed to reject the null hypothesis that growth was not significantly different between sexes. Consequently, all data were pooled and the combined data gave L∞ and K estimates of 174.2 cm and 0.144, respectively. Our growth data do not fit the pattern of slower growth and increased size in more northernly latitudes for Atlantic sturgeon observed in other work. Lack of uniformity of our growth data may be due to (1) the sturgeon fishery harvesting multiple stocks having different growth rates, and (2) size limits for the commercial fishery having created a bias in estimating growth parameters.
We assessed the biotic integrity of the middle-to-upper Delaware River. We sampled fish and assembled water quality data for eight stations and three habitat types (pool, riffle, and submerged aquatic vegetation [SAV]) of the Delaware River and applied an existing index of biotic integrity (IBI) recently developed for the northern mid-Atlantic slope drainages. We used Spearman's correlation to test IBI scores against measures of water quality (WQI) and cultural pollution. IBI scores were not significantly correlated with WQI, but were significantly negatively correlated with sewage load of adjacent tributaries (rs = −0.647, p = 0.08). Sites ranged from good to fair in biotic integrity. Fish assemblage composition from all three habitat types was necessary in order to accurately characterize biotic integrity. Of the three habitat types, fish assemblages from SAV habitats had the greatest positive effect on biotic integrity. Continued application of the IBI may be useful as a long-term monitoring tool as this river corridor becomes increasingly urbanized.
Selection of maternity roosts by the federally endangered Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis Miller and Allen) is a topic of great concern for wildlife managers. As part of annual monitoring of Indiana myotis at the Indianapolis International Airport, we observed M. sodalis using 2 of 974 available birdhouse-style bat boxes as maternity roosts. This represents the first reported use of birdhouse-style bat boxes as maternity roosts for M. sodalis. However, these 2 boxes were among 3204 artificial roosting structures on the site, including 259 triple and 715 single birdhouse-style bat boxes, many of which were in place for more than a decade and never used by Indiana myotis. Use of bat boxes by Indiana myotis may have been initiated by loss of a primary roost tree 2 years earlier.
Thirty-five samples of guano from 32 different maternity roosts of the big brown bat were examined for arthropod inhabitants. A total of 5883 individuals representing 28 species was collected from the guano samples. Of the 28 species, the following 10 occurred in 20% or more of the samples: Cheletonella vespertilionis (Acarina: Cheyletidae), Nycteriglyphites pennsylvanicus (Acarina: Rosensteiniidae), Neatus tenebrioides (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), Steatonyssus occidentalis (Acarina: Macronyssidae), Liposcelis corrodens (Psocoptera: Liposcelidae), Scenopinus fenestralis (Diptera: Scenopinidae), Trichouropoda sp. (Acarina: Uropodidae), Gibbium psylloides (Coleoptera: Ptinidae), Mezium americanum (Coleoptera: Ptinidae), and Cimex adjunctus (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Inhabitants of guano of Eptesicus fuscus were more similar to those of Myotis lucifugus than to those of Nycticeius humeralis or Myotis velifer.
We surveyed bats at 36 abandoned coal mines during summer 2002 and 47 mines during fall 2002 at New River Gorge National River and Gauley River National Recreation Area, WV. During summer, we captured three federally endangered Virginia big-eared bats at two mine entrances, and 25 were captured at 12 mine entrances during fall. These represent the first documented captures of this species at coal mines in West Virginia. Future survey efforts conducted throughout the range of the Virginia big-eared bat should include abandoned coal mines.
The popular literature often depicts river otters as extremely playful. However, some researchers have suggested that, contrary to popular belief, the much-noted sliding behavior of river otters is only a form of locomotion, not a form of play. While using remote video cameras to monitor a population of river otters reintroduced to the Youghiogheny River in southwestern Pennsylvania, we obtained a video of three otters sliding across a snow-covered surface. Collectively, the otters slid 16 times for a total of 53 seconds. Based on established definitions of animal play, our observation supports the popular notion that sliding can be play behavior in wild river otters.
While kayaking in Lake Superior, I observed a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) swimming. I followed the squirrel for approximately 1.5 km until it safely arrived on an island, which is approximately 2 km from the shores of mainland Wisconsin. This is the first published observation of a red squirrel swimming in one of the Great Lakes, as well as the longest documented swim of a red squirrel. Further investigations are needed to determine whether swimming is a significant form of dispersal and island colonization for red squirrels in North America.