2014 Conference: Poster Abstracts
|A Framework for Measuring Landscape Connectivity in the Northern Appalachians|
|Dan Coker, The Nature Conservancy|
|Developing tools to measure and track the progress of our efforts to maintain and enhance connectivity across the Northern Appalachians is an essential component of the Staying Connected Initiative (SCI). The SCI monitoring and evaluation team developed a compact set of relatively simple, inexpensive, and repeatable GIS-based status measures as well as an initial snapshot of the status of structural connectivity for each key linkage area. These measures are designed to work in tandem with finer scale functional connectivity measures that capture actual species movements at key locations within linkage areas.|
|Gretchen Fowles, New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program|
|Motion detection cameras are now used widely in ecological studies. In New Jersey they have been a valuable tool to monitor use of and behavioral response to wildlife road crossing structures. The cameras, however, produce large quantities of photos that need to be processed in order to make use of the data. We also have multiple individuals processing the data. We have developed a protocol to standardize the interpretation of the digital photos and are using a user-friendly mechanism for tagging the photos to ensure that the necessary data is being collected in order to answer questions needed to evaluate how each monitored structure is being used by wildlife. The resultant datasets can be easily queried and analyzed.|
|Hydraulic Assessment of Existing and Alternative Stream Crossings Designed for Fish and Wildlife Passage at Seven Sites in Massachusetts|
|Phillip J. Zarriello and Jeffrey R. Barbaro, U.S. Geological Survey|
|Seven existing road crossings at streams in Massachusetts were evaluated hydraulically and compared to alternative structures designed for Aquatic Organism Passage (AOP) using standards developed by the Massachusetts River Continuity Partnership. Hydraulic simulations made for flood flows ranging from 20- to 0.2-percent annual exceedance probability (AEP) indicate that the existing structures are at full capacity for many of the simulated AEP floods causing appreciable backwater upstream from the structure exacerbating upstream flooding and causing road overflow in many cases. The existing structures also create an impediment to AOP by failing to meet standards for openness, height, span, and velocity.
Structures designed for fish and wildlife passage that typically meet or exceed the AOP design standards were able to convey most AEP simulated flood flows without causing appreciable backwater upstream from the structure. At sites where backwater was still present, it occurred only at the highest simulated flows and was compounded by the low downstream gradient that affected the water-surface elevation at the structure. The simulation of the alternative structures also indicate that in addition to improved passage for fish and wildlife, the structures are more resilient to large floods and provide a greater buffer to uncertainties and potential changes in flood flows than the existing crossings.
|Long-Term Vernal Pool Monitoring Along a Highway Bypass|
|Jed Merrow, McFarland Johnson|
|In 2004-2005, a new highway bypass was constructed through an area of predominantly upland forest with many vernal pools in southern New Hampshire. The highway opened to traffic in late 2007. The highway affects wildlife in several ways, including direct habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, hydrologic changes, and interruption of migration routes. Mitigation measures included habitat preservation, wildlife crossing structures, constructed pools and special stormwater management measures. Vernal pools within the study area have been visited in the spring of most years since 1999. Habitat changes appear to be limited to the pools closest to the highway. Amphibian usage of pools fluctuates greatly from year to year, but usage of the few pools closest to the highway declined while other pools have been less affected. Data will be presented and discussed.|
|MBTA Greenbush Line Wildlife Crossing Structure Study|
|Adrianna Ortiz, CR Environmental, Inc.; Ken Thomson, CR Environmental, Inc.; Charlotte Cogswell, CR Environmental, Inc.; Lars Carlson, Jacobs Engineering Group|
|Spring 2012, 2013 wildlife cameras were installed at five crossing structures at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Nantasket Junction, Hingham, MA to document use of the structures by wildlife, in particular the formerly state-listed spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) that utilizes wetland pools on opposite sides of the right-of-way (ROW). Photographic data were collected weekly for six months each year. The crossings are an under rail passageway through a high density polyethylene trough containing 6 inches of bark mulch. Barrier fencing along the ROW and pressure treated wood guide walls direct wildlife to the crossings. The cameras were remotely triggered by a passive infrared sensor mounted on the camera box that detected warm blooded animals in view of the camera, and an active sensor beam in the crossings that detected reptiles and amphibians.
All crossing structures were used by wildlife, and the most frequent: common raccoon, Eastern gray squirrel, Eastern chipmunk, Eastern cottontail rabbit and mallard duck accounted for 87% of the observances. Reptiles and amphibians utilizing the crossings included snapping and spotted turtles, snakes, and frogs. Comparing the known location of a radio tagged spotted turtle to the pictures collected we confirmed that the cameras were documenting turtle movement through the crossing structures. Biannual maintenance of crossing structures is required to remove leaves and lay down mulch substrate. Mulch reduces the temperature in the crossing trough but can move during high winds. Findings are useful for similar linear projects to insure wildlife habitat connectivity and avoid impacts to wildlife.
|Threatened Stonecat Surveys and Protection Measures for a Bridge Rehabilitation, Charlotte, Vermont|
|Jake Riley, Stantec Consulting|
|The Vermont state listed stonecat (Noturus flavus) is known to occur in only two river drainages in the state, including the LaPlatte River. Stantec’s engineers designed a pier rehabilitation for a small town bridge within the LaPlatte River for the Town of Charlotte. After consultation with state agencies, Stantec’s biologists developed a protection plan for the stonecat, which included conducting an electrofishing survey and in-stream exclusion and protection measures that were implemented at various stages of the bridge pier repair. Stantec’s biologists lead the threatened and endangered species state permitting effort and in doing so worked with the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (VT Coop Unit), the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop and implement the protection plan. During the surveys, Stantec assisted VT Coop Unit graduate student with PIT tagging captured stonecats and conducted a relocation survey within the reach encompassing the bridge pier repair. Stantec and the VT Coop Unit captured and safely relocated 14 stonecats out of the construction area prior to any in-water activity. Stonecats have been tagged and recaptured by the VT Coop Unit for last two years in two areas downstream of the Dorset St. bridge site in the LaPlatte River. One of the stonecats that had been previously captured 7 km downstream was recaptured at Dorset St. bridge only 20 days later, showing the importance of maintaining hydrologic connectivity for longitudinal migrations for the restoration and protection of stonecats.|
|Turtle Roadside Nests Are Safe and (Too?) Warm|
|Tom A. Langen, Clarkson University; Kimberly Ogden, University of Massachusetts - Amherst|
|Breeding female turtles appear to be attracted to roads as nest sites. The choice of nesting along roads potentially effects breeder survivorship, due to risk of road-mortality or harvest. It may also affect nest viability and offspring condition, due to differences between roadside nests and other nest sites in terms of predation risk, microclimate (including temperature and humidity), and soil chemical and physical composition. Along a highway bisecting a wildlife management area in northeastern New York State, we evaluated the impact of roadside nesting on turtle breeding success by (a) comparing the risk of nest loss to predators near roads versus other nesting locations, and (b) comparing nest microclimate (temperature and humidity) at roadside nests versus other sites. We found that the risk of nest predation was significantly lower near a heavily trafficked highway than at other nesting sites away from public roads. Roadside nests were warmer and more variable in temperature than nests constructed away from paved roads; these differences were large enough to potentially affect embryo development. The microclimate on west-facing roadside nests was more extreme than east-facing. Soil humidity was adequate at roadside nests, and differed little from nests in other locations. Any mitigation measures to prevent turtles from gaining access to roads, such as fencing, must consider effects on nesting. There is a critical need for research on the viability of road-side nests and on mitigation measures that would provide suitable alternative nesting sites that attract nesting turtles away from roads.|
|Addressing Amphibian Road Mortality in the Northeast|
|Brett Amy Thelen*, Science Director, Harris Center for Conservation Education, Hancock, New Hampshire; Brad Timm, Post-doctoral Research Associate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst|
|Amphibian road mortality is a considerable conservation issue, particularly during the highly-synchronized annual spring migrations (“Big Nights”) undertaken by vernal pool-breeding species in the Northeast. Observed road mortality rates along even low-traffic rural roads may be high enough to lead to localized extirpation of pool-breeding amphibians, and long-term impacts of roads on amphibian population dynamics can be severe. Over the last decade, conservation groups throughout the Northeast have responded to this issue by organizing amphibian crossing brigades, in which trained volunteers move migrating amphibians across the road by hand during periods of peak traffic. In this poster, we invite collaboration on these and other measures to reduce amphibian road mortality in the Northeast, and offer several ideas for where to begin.|