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Little is known about the visitation patterns of Lontra canadensis (Nearctic river otter) at latrines. We used remote camera and video camera systems manufactured by TrailMaster® to determine when Lontra canadensis (river otters) occupying riverine habitats in Pennsylvania and Maryland visit latrines, what the group composition is during visits, and if either variable changes by season. We documented 173 visits to latrines by river otters. The majority of visits (102) were by single river otters. One hundred fifty of the total visits occurred at night. Most (111) lasted <1 min. The largest peak in visitation to latrines occurred immediately prior to and during the breeding season (February/March).
Survival and post-release movements of individuals translocated for reintroduction purposes have implications for intra-specific interactions, which are essential for reproduction, and, ultimately, for the success of the reintroduction effort. Between 1997–1998, 28 (14M:14F) Lontra canadensis (river otters) were translocated to the Genesee River, NY, to restore extirpated populations. Otters were implanted with transmitters to determine survival, cause of mortality, and post-release movements. Five (3M:2F) otters died during the study: three (2M:1F) mortalities were caused by collisions with vehicles and two (1M:1F) were from unknown causes. Survival rate during the first year was 0.89 (95% CI = 0.78–1.00); annual survival rate was 0.92 (95% CI = 0.79–1.00) and 0.86 (95% CI = 0.70–1.00) for males and females, respectively. Post-release dispersal distance of 22 (11M: 11F) otters ranged from 1.2 to 54.0 km (mean = 12.5 km, 95% CI = 8.5–23.7 km). Dispersal distance of females was greater than that of males by a mean of 8.7 km (95% CI = 0.1–19.2 km). River otters that dispersed >15 km from the release site experienced higher mortality.
Published data that describe the distribution and reproductive patterns of bats in New Hampshire are sparse. We examined the distribution and reproductive phenology of bats within Pisgah State Park (the largest state park in New Hampshire) located in the southwestern region of the state. A total of 159 bats was captured during 31 net nights at 29 net sites during the summers of 2004 and 2005. In order of decreasing abundance, the most common species were Myotis lucifugus (little brown myotis), Eptesicus fuscus (big brown bat), and M. septentrionalis (northern myotis). Additionally, a single Lasiurus borealis (eastern red bat) was captured. Approximately equal numbers of adult male and female little brown myotis and northern myotis were observed, while sex ratios of big brown bats were female biased. Pregnant females of each species were observed between mid-May and early June, and parturition occurred during mid- to late June. Captures of juvenile little brown myotis indicate that weaning begins during early July (juveniles of other species were not captured).
Somatic growth rates, RNA:DNA, and feeding habits of juvenile Pseudopleuronectes americanus (Winter Flounder) were used to asses small-scale spatio-temporal variations in the habitat quality of Mount Hope Bay and Narragan-sett Bay, RI. Three successive caging experiments (14–16 d each) were conducted with flounder (initial size = 25–35 mm total length) in June and July 2003 in shallow water habitats (<1 m) of Spar Island, Common Fence Point, and Hog Island; the first two sites were located in Mount Hope Bay, and the latter in Narragansett Bay. The average growth rate of flounder ranged between 0.51 and 0.95 mm d−1 and was inversely related with increased incidences of hypoxic conditions (i.e., amount of time dissolved oxygen was ≤ 4.0 mg L−1). RNA:DNA, a surrogate measure of growth and feeding condition, corroborated somatic growth trends, and therefore exhibited similar spatio-temporal variability. In contrast to somatic growth, however, water temperature was the most important factor affecting flounder condition, such that RNA:DNA was inversely related to the amount of time water temperature was >20 °C. Benthic core samples indicated that food availability was greatest at Spar Island and was attributable to the numerical dominance of Crepidula fornicata Linnaeus (slipper limpet) during the early summer. Moreover, stomach contents of flounder reflected differences in prey species composition, whereby individuals from Spar Island consumed a higher percentage of molluscs relative to the other sites, where the preferred prey items were harpacticoid copepods and small decapods (primarily brachyuran crabs). Despite the observed discrepancies in feeding habits across sites, the extent of stomach fullness for flounder did not vary spatially (mean fullness = 44–49% across sites). It is concluded that the somatic growth, RNA:DNA, and feeding behavior of juvenile flounder in Mount Hope Bay and Narragansett Bay varies significantly across small spatio-temporal scales in response to changes in dissolved oxygen and thermal conditions.
Ambient, ground-level ozone is the most important air pollutant affecting vegetation in the US. However, ozone-sensitive bioindicators need to be identified for use in field surveys to detect ozone-induced symptoms. To identify such bioindicators, 28 plant selections were exposed to ozone within greenhouse chambers during 2003 and 2004. Plants most sensitive to ozone included Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush), Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore), Salix × cotteti (Bankers dwarf willow), Salix lucida (shining willow), Salix nigra (black willow), Salix sericea (silky willow), and Symphoricarpos albus (snowberry). Plants moderately sensitive included Aster novaeangliae (New England aster), Monarda didyma (bee-balm), Rhus aromatica (aromatic sumac), Salix discolor (pussy willow), Salix exigua (sandbar willow), Salix purpurea (basket willow), Sambucus ebulus (European dwarf elderberry), and Symphoricarpos spp. (mixture of “snowberries”). Plants more tolerant to ozone included Aster macrophyllus (bigleaf aster), Aster novibelgii (New York aster), Cercis canadensis (redbud), Populus maximowizii × trichocarpa (hybrid poplar), Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf, or tall green-headed coneflower), Salix amygdaloides (peach-leaved willow), Salix eriocephala (diamond willow), Sambucus canadensis (American elder), Sambucus nigra (European elder), Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry), and Viburnum trilobum (highbush-cranberry). The incidence and severity of ozone-induced symptoms varied with species, ozone concentration, and length of exposure. Pigmented adaxial leaf surface stipple, bifacial necrosis, and premature defoliation were common foliar symptoms induced by ozone; leaf reddening, bronzing, and chlorosis occurred less frequently. Species that produced classic ozone-induced stipple in this study may serve as useful bioindicators in field surveys to confirm that ozone injury occurs in many parts of the country. Such findings may have a positive impact on establishing more stringent air-quality standards to protect vegetation and the environment.
Gaylussacia brachycera (box huckleberry) is a slow-growing, dwarf evergreen member of the family Ericaceae that is native to eight states in the eastern United States. It is a rare plant with conservation status in several states of critically imperiled (S1). Botanists have been intrigued by this enigmatic native plant since it was discovered in 1796 in Virginia. One of the mysteries of this species is whether plants in a colony arose from different genotypes or are clonal. The species reproduces primarily by means of underground runners and appears to be self-sterile, so sexual reproduction within isolated colonies could be limited. Using molecular markers, we tested samples taken from three of the best-known colonies in Pennsylvania and one in Tennessee. Based on 104 polymorphic markers, we found that one of the Pennsylvania colonies contained two genotypes among 11 samples tested; one Pennsylvania colony contained three genotypes among five samples tested; and the other two colonies exhibited no variation among the 8–10 samples tested. This study represents the first time that molecular markers have been used in a systematic assay to determine the existence of variation among individuals within a colony of box huckleberry.
Artificial nesting islands, or rafts, are deployed in Gavia immer (Common Loon) territories to lessen the incidence of nest failures due to mammalian predation and water-level fluctuations. The effectiveness of this management tool has been demonstrated in other studies; however, improper construction and deployment can result in lowered nesting success. Despite widespread use of rafts, detailed construction plans and a protocol for deployment are lacking. We present the raft construction and deployment protocol currently followed by organizations specializing in loon management and research in New Hampshire and Maine, and discuss emerging concerns related to management using rafts.
Urban parks often represent the only stopover habitats available to migrating birds encountering expansive metropolitan areas. Green spaces remaining within cities may therefore be valuable to migrants; yet studies of migrants in this context are few. I examined the lipid content of birds killed by window collisions in spring and autumn in a small recreational park in New York City to assess the energetic condition of migratory passerines utilizing an urban habitat as a stopover site. I compared chemically determined fat content (expressed as a lipid index: g fat/g lean dry mass) and visible subcutaneous fat scores between seasons, autumn age classes, and birds grouped by family and foraging guild. Average total body fat (as % of dry mass) was 29.4% in spring and 24.1% in autumn; few lean birds were found in either season. Birds in spring were significantly fatter than in autumn. In spring and autumn, no differences in fat content (i.e., fat scores and lipid indices) were observed between warblers and thrushes. In spring, there were no differences in fat content between warbler foraging guilds, whereas in autumn, ground/understory-foraging warbler species were fatter than warbler species associated with arboreal foraging. In autumn, the fat content of immature birds was comparable to that of adults. It could not be determined whether the high fat content of birds found here was acquired during stopovers in the study site or if birds arrived with substantial fat stores remaining from previous stopovers. The likelihood of each scenario and the value of urban parks to migratory birds are discussed.
A point-intercept survey was implemented in August 2000 to determine the distribution and richness of aquatic plant species present in Waneta Lake and Lamoka Lake, NY. Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian watermilfoil) was the most commonly observed species in Waneta Lake (25% of entire lake, 78% of littoral zone) and Lamoka Lake (43% of entire lake, 77% of littoral zone). Eurasian watermilfoil biomass (24.3 g DW/m2) was also significantly greater (p ≤ 0.001) in Waneta Lake than native plant biomass. Our data suggests that Eurasian watermilfoil is invading the native plant communities of Waneta Lake and Lamoka Lake, thereby displacing native plants and limiting their growth to the shallow waters of the littoral zone.
Morphology is one of the most common methods used to identify among congeneric species, but its use can be problematic when spatial patterns of phenotypic variability are unknown. We examine spatial variability in the morphology of two sympatric species of algae (Fucus vesiculosus and F. spiralis) on large (>100 km) and small (<10 km) scales and determine the extent to which they can be identified based on morphology. These species could generally be distinguished based on gross morphology on large spatial scales, but on small scales some individuals exhibited much overlap in the gross morphology. This finding is not surprising given that hybridization and introgression in these species is common. Although there were some consistent patterns in morphology between species, many were species-specific. Similarly, there were few common spatial patterns when individual measures of morphology were analyzed, suggesting that selective pressures may act on each species independently. These results have implications for the use of morphology in identifying congeneric species. Given the existence of individuals of intermediate morphology, it is likely that species are often misidentified when spatial variability in morphological distinctness is not considered. In particular, stipe width may prove to be a valuable predictor of species identification for non-reproductive and young individuals, as it was the only morphological variable to vary consistently between the species.
This study examined possible effects of several abiotic parameters on breeding-pool selection of Ambystoma jeffersonianum (Jefferson Salamander), A. maculatum (Spotted Salamander), A. opacum (Marbled Salamander), and Notophthalmus viridescens (Red-spotted Newt). Twenty-four ephemeral pools and permanent ponds, all adjacent to a logging road, were observed in south-central Pennsylvania in 2006. There was a significant correlative effect of distance from the logging road on breeding-site selection. Specifically, the distance from the road significantly differed between the breeding-sites of Jefferson Salamanders and Red-spotted Newts and between those of Marbled Salamander and Red-spotted Newts with both ambystomatid species breeding farther from the road than Red-spotted Newts. This study supports the idea that ambystomatid salamander breeding-site selection can be influenced by habitat disturbance, while generalist species are not as easily influenced.
Peripherally distributed populations of animals often exhibit different life-history parameters compared to those from more central locations. We report on the ecology of Eurycea cirrigera (Southern Two-lined Salamander) from its western range limit in eastern Illinois. We searched two streams and an intervening ridge from April 2002 until December 2003 to monitor clutch size and seasonal abundance of life stages. Oviposition began in April, and larvae were detected by late May. Mean clutch size was smaller than estimates from other parts of the species' range and did not covary with snout–vent length of the attending female. Nest-attendance rates we detected tended to be lower than previous estimates. As in other parts of their range, clutches were often found under rocks with at least one other clutch. Longer rocks were 1.30 times more likely to have multiple nests deposited under them.
Eighty-one species of butterflies and two-hundred and thirty-seven species of moths were identified from Fort Indiantown Gap, a National Guard training facility in south-central Pennsylvania. The Lepidoptera found here include the last remaining population of Speyeria idalia idalia (eastern regal fritillary), as well as the rare Callophrys irus (frosted elfin), Hesperia leonardus (Leonard's skipper), Datana ranaeceps (hand-maid moth), Zale sp. 1 nr. lunifera (Pine Barrens zale), and Anisota stigma (spiny oakworm moth). This habitat has a large and diverse Lepidoptera fauna, most likely due to periodic disturbance in some areas, conservation efforts to maintain native grassland, and a diverse plant community.
I describe a new, characteristic shell deformity in unionid mussels from several sites in southern New York. The posterior end of the shell is strikingly shortened and distorted in these deformed mussels. Because these misshapen mussels have been seen only in streams with heavily agricultural or residential watersheds and only after 1990, they may be caused by an agricultural or household chemical that has come into recent use.