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During a pelagic longline pilot study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Mississippi Laboratories along the US Atlantic Ocean coast (NOAA Ship OREGON II OT-06-02-269), a Caretta caretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtle) was captured with longline gear equipped with time-temperature-depth recorders attached in proximity to hooks. Time-temperature-depth data documented changes in hook depth and water temperature, and reflected behavior of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle (rates of descent and ascent, time at depth, time near surface). Sea turtle mortality mitigation recommendations for pelagic longline gear proved effective for this Loggerhead Sea Turtle capture since there were successive ascents to surface, and the viability status was good after landing.
Information is presented on 348 Trichoptera (caddisfly) species recorded from North Carolina, including 76 new state records. This information includes distribution across 4 ecoregions, occurrence by stream size, and the 1st published North Carolina record for each species.
We measured densities of Solenopsis invicta (Red Imported Fire Ant) mounds at sites occupied by Ammodramus savannarum floridanus (Florida Grasshopper Sparrow), a federally endangered subspecies, at Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR), Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP), and Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (TLWMA). Our objective was to compare densities of fire ant mounds among areas with active cattle grazing programs (two areas of native dry prairie habitat at APAFR and a tamed pasture at KPPSP) and areas without active grazing programs (native dry prairie habitat at KPPSP and TLWMA). Densities of fire ant mounds differed among the five areas examined and were greater in areas with active grazing programs than in areas without active grazing programs. We measured densities of fire ant mounds inside and outside of a cattle exclosure, but the total numbers detected were insufficient for analysis. We also placed bait stations inside and outside the exclosure. Fire ants were detected at 50% fewer bait stations inside the exclosure, but these differences were not significant.
Odonates are vulnerable during emergence, when they shed their larval skin (exuvia) to take flight as adults. Emergence-site selection should adapt to the local mortality risks. Here, I characterized emergence-site selection of Epitheca spinosa (Robust Baskettails) by noting the substrate, height, and distance from water of exuviae in a 300 m × 5 m plot at Weston Lake, Congaree National Park, Hopkins, SC. Of the 82 Robust Baskettail exuviae sampled, 52 (63.4%) were found on trees with corky bark (Nyssa aquatica [Water Tupelo], Nyssa biflora [Swamp Tupelo], Fraxinus pennsylvanica [Green Ash]), while no exuviae were found on the peeling, flaky trunks of Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress) or the smooth, platy trunks of Acer rubrum (Red Maple). However, 26 (31.7%) exuviae were on T. distichum pneumatophores. This pattern was significantly different from the relative abundances of these substrate types (χ2 = 19.8, df = 3, P < 0.001). Most exuviae (93.9%) were on substrates touching the water, suggesting that larvae climb directly from the water to their emergence site. The mean height of exuviae on trees was 3.3 ± 1.37 m, with a range from 1.8–7.7 m. High-climbing by Robust Baskettail larvae may be an adaptation to flooding at Weston Lake; major flood events (>3 m) are common (5 of the last 10 years) during their March–April emergence period.
Asclepias curtissii (Curtiss' Milkweed) is an endangered perennial herbaceous plant endemic to Florida scrub habitat. Although many scrub perennials are gap specialists, Curtiss' Milkweed is often found growing in close association with woody vegetation. We asked whether seed germination and seedling establishment are enhanced by the microsite conditions created beneath woody shrubs. In addition, we asked whether adult plants occur in association with shrubs more frequently than would be expected by chance and whether this distribution could be explained by seed dispersal patterns. Seeds were germinated, ex situ, in a factorial experiment with leaf litter and shade as main effects. In a separate experiment, to determine the effect of shrub cover on seedling establishment, 144 Curtiss' Milkweed seedlings were planted into a total of twelve fenced plots within Lyonia Preserve, Deltona, FL. Within each plot, six seedlings were planted in sandy gaps, and six were planted in close association with existing woody shrubs. We assessed survival over a five-month period. We also measured the distance to the nearest woody stem from extant adult plant locations and compared these to the distance of random points around those extant plants. Similarly, we released 70 milkweed seeds from extant plant locations and measured the distance from the spot where they landed to the nearest woody stem and compared this to the distance between random points and woody stems. We found that seed germination was significantly enhanced by shade (P < 0.0001) but not by leaf litter, and that seedlings growing in the shade of close neighboring shrubs had significantly higher rates of survival (P < 0.001) than those seedlings planted in gaps. Extant plants tended to grow close to shrubs, and seeds tended to land near shrubs, but neither of these distances were less than would be expected by random chance (P > 0.10 in both cases). The facilitation of seedling establishment by woody plants has been documented in other arid environments, but not in Florida scrub.
Knowledge of species distribution is fundamental to conservation and management efforts. Unfortunately, distribution of many mammal species in the southeastern United States, including some considered endangered, threatened, or of special concern, has been and remains poorly documented. We queried museums, reviewed the published literature, and searched state Natural Heritage Inventory databases to obtain distributional information for 13 mammal species considered rare (Global Rank G1–G3 or State Rank S1–S3) or of other conservation concern in the Southern Appalachian region. We constructed distribution maps for selected mammal species within the region based on 7 state Natural Heritage Inventory databases and 1539 county records from 26 museums and 57 published sources. Napaeozapus insignis (Woodland Jumping Mouse), Mustela nivalis (Least Weasel), and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Red Squirrel) exhibited large (>150 km) geographic differences from currently accepted range maps. Sorex dispar (Rock Shrew), Synaptomys cooperi (Southern Bog Lemming), Neotoma magister (Allegheny Woodrat), and Zapus hudsonius (Meadow Jumping Mouse), exhibited small (<75 km) geographic differences. The remaining 6 species showed little to no range differences from commonly accepted range maps. Because seven of 13 mammals showed substantial differences from known range maps, our updated maps may aide managers and others in focusing surveying and conservation efforts.
Four adult male Canis lupus rufus (Red Wolf) were monitored with GPS collars in 2006–2008 on the Albemarle peninsula of North Carolina in the first high temporal resolution (4 locations/day) study of this endangered species in the wild. The Wolves occupied home ranges during 11–18 month observation periods, and the GPS data were divided into 30-day subsets to evaluate changes in the spatial characteristics of the home ranges over time. The subset location data were then combined with land-cover maps derived from Landsat satellite imagery. Proportions of different land-cover types occupied by the Wolves were seasonally cyclic, with increased use of agricultural areas when tall row crops were available from summer to autumn and increased use of adj acent grass, brush, and forest areas from winter to late spring when tall crops were absent. The spatial extents of home ranges (95% fixed-kernel probability areas) were also seasonally variable, reaching maximum sizes (73–121 km2) in early autumn to winter and contracting by 40% to 63% during whelping and pup-rearing in the spring. Our study shows the potential for GPS collars to provide useful information about space and habitat use by Red Wolves, and that at least a full year of observation may be required to fully determine the variability of home-range characteristics.
Lynx rufus (Bobcat) cover-type selection and activity patterns have been studied in a variety of landscapes in the southeastern United States, but effects of individual activity status (active or inactive) and time of day (day, night, crepuscular) on cover-type selection have not been investigated for this species. Therefore, we investigated Bobcat habitat use in a Pinus palustris (Longleaf Pine) forest in southwestern Georgia to determine whether activity status of individuals or time of day affected seasonal cover-type selection. We monitored 43 radiocollared Bobcats from 2001–2004 and determined habitat use at Johnson's third order of selection (i.e., habitat selection within the home range) using Euclidean distance-based analysis. Bobcats selected (Λ; = 0.017, P = 0.001) habitat within their home ranges; however, although Bobcats are typically classified as crepuscular, neither activity status (Λ; = 0.990, P = 0.981) nor time-of-day (Λ; = 0.972, P = 0.647) affected cover-type selection. Bobcats on our study site preferred agricultural areas and other early to mid-successional habitats, probably because they produced abundant prey.
The Indian Mountain Forever Wild Tract (IMFWT) is a 240-ha property that was acquired in two purchases by the State of Alabama Forever Wild Program on 18 September 1997 and 31 December 2001. The IMFWT lies 55 km east of Gadsden, AL, and is in the Terrapin Creek watershed, a tributary of the Coosa River. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages the site with an emphasis on recreational use and habitat management. An intensive floristic study of this area was conducted from March 2007 through May 2008. A total of 431 taxa (430 species) from 281 genera and 103 families were collected, with 157 taxa being county records. Asteraceae was the most-collected family, with 73 species. Poaceae, Fabaceae, and Cyperaceae were the families with the next highest numbers of taxa found (40, 28, and 17 species, respectively). Quercus was the most-represented genus, with 11 taxa. Fifty non-native species were collected during the surveys. Plant collections were deposited at the Anniston Museum of Natural History Herbarium, with duplicates deposited at the University of Alabama Herbarium (UNA), Auburn University Herbarium (AUA), and Troy University Herbarium (TROY).
The life history of Notropis chrosomus (Rainbow Shiner) was investigated using 12 monthly collections from Moore Creek (Etowah River Drainage) at GA Highway 140 in Cherokee County, GA. Specimens were collected by electroshocking and seining primarily from runs and flowing pools and examined to identify feeding habits, age, growth, and reproductive patterns. Notropis chrosomus are opportunistic insectivores with gut contents largely consisting of Chironomidae larvae, unidentified insect parts, unidentified Diptera adults, and Collembola. Spawning occurred in spring with 400–896 (mean 708.92, SD = 162.90) mature oocytes ranging from 0.7 mm to 1.22 mm (mean = 0.90 mm, SD = 0.167 mm) present in specimens collected in April, May, and June. Sexual maturity occurred at approximately one year of age. The maximum age of both males and females was estimated at approximately 24 months (females = 25 months, males = 23 months). The largest female collected was 66.71 mm SL and 5.515 g total weight. The largest male collected was 60.19 mm SL and 3.691 g total weight.
Aggressive interactions, differences in chela size, and the effect of chela size on outcomes of aggressive interactions were studied in a laboratory setting using the federally protected (endangered) Orconectes shoupi (Nashville Crayfish), and two sympatric species, O. placidus (Bigclaw Crayfish) and O. durelli (Saddle Crayfish). Orconectes placidus and O. durelli are potential threats to O. shoupi through competitive or aggressive interactions. Understanding such interactions could help explain species distributions, provide insight on additional threats, and guide management decisions regarding Nashville Crayfish translocations. Aggressive interactions were examined with 30-min videotaped trials between body-size-matched hetero- and conspecific pairs. The predicted influence of chela size on outcomes of aggressive interactions was also analyzed. Our results demonstrated that O. shoupi males and females were significantly more aggressive than O. placidus. However, O. durelli females won more encounters and were slightly more aggressive than O. shoupi females. Significant differences in chela size were detected in some body-size-matched species and gender pairings: O. shoupi males had narrower chelae than O. durelli males; and O. shoupi females had longer and wider chelae than O. placidus females, and longer but narrower chelae than O. durelli females. Although chela size appeared to play a role in dominance, it was not the only factor influencing outcomes of aggressive interactions. Our laboratory results did not identify displacement threats to O. shoupi from O. placidus, and therefore do not preclude introduction of O. shoupi into habitat occupied by O. placidus to meet recovery plan objectives. However, interspecific aggression in the presence of a vital resource (e.g., food or shelter) was not tested here and should be investigated to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of possible threats to O. shoupi.
Populations of Etheostoma tallapoosae (Tallapoosa Darter) have previously been shown to be genetically divergent for mitochondrial DNA. In this study, PCR primers were developed to amplify portions of six nuclear genes, and sequences of these genes were assessed in three of the most divergent Tallapoosa Darter populations. This analysis shows that these populations are also highly divergent for nuclear gene sequences and thus any adaptive or potentially adaptive variation is likely to be partitioned among the populations. Sequences of the six nuclear genes have also been determined in the closely related species E. coosae and E. brevirostrum, and the utility of these nuclear gene sequences to the elucidation of darter phylogeny is discussed.
Phalacrocorax brasilianus (Neotropic Cormorant) has been observed with increasing frequency in the alluvial plain (Delta region) of Mississippi. In the past 6 years, 22 individuals have been observed in 20 separate sightings during spring and summer. These sightings have occurred at breeding colonies of other colonial waterbirds and commercial aquaculture facilities of Ictalurus punctatus (Channel Catfish). Two sexually mature Neotropic Cormorants have been collected at a colonial waterbird breeding colony near the Mississippi River in the western Delta region among flocks of Phalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorants). Twice during the summer of 2008, confirmed nesting of Neotropic Cormorants were documented in the Delta region of Mississippi. The increased abundance and range expansion of Neotropic Cormorants in the Delta region of Mississippi may be a result of the readily available food source of cultured Channel Catfish.
Although open-cup nesting birds regularly experience partial predation events, little is known about partial predation for cavity-nesting birds. Here we report on 12 partial predation events for 5 species of cavity-nesting birds inhabiting southern pine forests. Snakes, small mammals, and woodpeckers were the primary predators; many were documented by direct visual observation or video photography. We documented two types of outcomes from partial predation events: partial failure, i.e., a single partial predation event followed by successful fledging of >1 young; and complete failure, i.e., multiple, sequential partial predation events that result in total nest failure. We propose the “plate too full” and “eat and run” hypotheses to explain partial nest predation in birds and discuss the characteristics of cavities that may facilitate this phenomenon.
We report an observation of shivering thermogenesis and insulation by a brooding Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese Python) just outside the northern boundary of Everglades National Park, FL. Temperature data loggers were placed in and around the brooding female's nest, and video was taken of the female performing shivering thermogenesis. Nest temperatures were maintained both warmer and cooler than ambient temperatures. This observation of thermoregulation through shivering thermogenesis and clutch insulation is the first documented instance of a Burmese Python exhibiting this behavior in the wild.