Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

The Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (ISSN 2330-5142) presents papers that cover all aspects of the management and conservation of inland, estuarine, and marine fisheries and wildlife. It aims to provide a forum where fisheries and wildlife managers can find innovative solutions to the problems facing our natural resources in the 21st century. The Journal welcomes manuscripts that cover scientific studies, case studies, and review articles on a wide range of topics of interest and use to fish and wildlife managers, with an emphasis on the southeastern United States.


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Relatively low fecundity may be responsible for lower Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) populations in the southern Appalachians compared to those in more northern areas of the species ' range. Nutritional stress imposed by poor-quality habitat and greater nest predation have been cited as negative influences on reproduction in the region. We monitored 56 female grouse during the reproductive season in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, 1999 - 2004, to measure reproductive success and evaluate cover used for nesting. Nests (n = 44) were located to determine fate and habitat characteristics. Nesting rate (78%) was lower than most reports, and mean first nest clutch size of 9.7 eggs was less than that reported in the Great Lakes states but was within the range reported in the central and southern Appalachians. Mayfield estimated nest survival was 0.83 (± 0.084 SE) and the proportion of successful nests was 81%, which is among the greatest reported.

The most commonly used method to determine the timing of breeding for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is to measure fetuses from deceased animals. However, this method is resource-intensive and can only provide data for limited geographic areas. Numerous studies have reported that deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) increase during the breeding season due to increased deer movements associated with breeding activity. Based on these observations, we obtained records of DVCs in Georgia from 2005 - 2012 (n=45,811) to determine when peaks in DVCs occurred for each county in Georgia. We compared the timing of DVC peaks with (1) conception data from three counties in Georgia, (2) deer movement data from a sample of GPS-instrumented male and female deer in Harris County, Georgia, and (3) a popularized 'rut map' for the state that was based on Georgia Department of Natural Resources fetal data as well as hunter observations.

Managing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations requires an understanding of fawn survival and cause-specific mortality. In the Southeast, coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) can be major sources of fawn mortality and may limit some white-tailed deer populations. We captured and radio-collared 47 fawns at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwestern Georgia during 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2012 to quantify cause-specific mortality and survival. Fawn survival to 20 weeks of age (i.e., opening day of firearms season) was 29.0%. Coyote predation accounted for 52.4% of all fawn mortalities and 68.7% of predation-caused mortalities, while bobcat predation accounted for only 9.5% of all mortalities and 12.5 % of all predation. During 2007 and 2008, we quantified and then compared the percentage of coyote and bobcat scats that contained deer remains during the fawning season.

The Western Gulf Coast population of the mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) is dependent on the Gulf coastal marsh to complete its entire life cycle. Band recovery data can be used to monitor mottled duck populations by estimating annual survival, indexing harvest rate, and assessing movements. Band returns from hunting seasons 1997 - 2013 were used to evaluate factors influencing annual survival, recovery rates, and movements of mottled ducks in Texas and Louisiana. For banding years of 1997 - 2013, 58,349 normal, wild mottled ducks were banded and released in Texas and Louisiana. Since 2002, 86% of mottled duck bandings have occurred on the Chenier Plain of Texas and Louisiana. Hunters shot, recovered, and reported 7,061 birds with bands during this period. Direct recovery rates were greater for juveniles than adults but changed little since the 1970s. Estimates of annual survival did not differ between Texas and Louisiana, but did among years and between sex and age classes.

The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) is a non-migratory waterfowl species dependent upon coastal marsh systems, including those on the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex, and considered a regional indicator species of marsh habitat quality. Research from the early 1970s, 1990s, and early - 2000s indicated that mottled ducks continued to exhibit elevated wing-bone lead (Pb) concentrations, decades after implementation of non-toxic shot regulations. However, wing-bone concentrations reflect lifetime accumulation of Pb, whereas blood Pb concentrations reflect more recent exposure. To identify current potentially relevant temporal windows of Pb exposure, we collected 260 blood samples from mottled ducks during summer (n = 124) and winter (n = 136) from 2010 - 2012 on the Texas Chenier Plain NWR Complex.

Because wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are an important game species and turkey hunter numbers are increasing, the need for better information on how turkeys use their environment is critical. With the recent advent of GPS technology suitable for use on wild turkeys, we are now able to collect data on a scale not previously possible. We used backpack style GPS units to detail home range and core area sizes, daily movement distances, and roosting characteristics of male Eastern (M. g. silvestris) and Rio Grande (M. g. intermedia) wild turkeys in Louisiana and Texas. Mean home range size was larger in Louisiana (383 ha) than in Texas (270 ha), and mean distance between consecutive roost sites was farther in Louisiana (803 m) than in Texas (211 m). However, average daily distance traveled was shorter in Louisiana (3725 m) than in Texas (4608 m). The mean distance between consecutive roost sites was 803m in Louisiana and 211m in Texas.

Reclaimed surface mines present an opportunity to provide large tracts of habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Reclaimed surface mine sites are commonly planted to non-native species, including sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) and tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus), which can inhibit growth of more desirable plant species and limit favorable structure for bobwhite. There have been no studies documenting how bobwhites use various vegetation types common to reclaimed surface mine land. Habitat use studies can provide information on selected vegetation types on these unique landscapes and help direct future management decisions. We radio-marked 841 bobwhite from October 2009 to September 2011 on Peabody Wildlife Management Area (PWMA), a 3,330-ha reclaimed surface mine in Kentucky, to investigate how bobwhite used associated vegetation types and responded to habitat management practices.

It is well acknowledged that habitat management, herd management, and herd monitoring are necessary to best manage for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). A fourth component that must be considered is hunter participation. Hunter knowledge, perceptions, and satisfaction influence the success of a deer management program, as hunters play a key role in meeting harvest objectives. We surveyed hunters involved in a Quality Deer Management (QDM) program at Ames Plantation in western Tennessee from 2005 - 2013 to determine how experience in a QDM program influenced hunter knowledge, perceptions, and satisfaction concerning deer management. We divided our survey data into two groups to measure program influence: new members (137), who had not hunted or participated in the QDM program at Ames, and experienced members (395), who had at least one year of hunting experience and exposure to annual educational presentations and outreach materials offered through the Ames program.

As a surrogate species for Strategic Habitat Conservation, the mottled duck (Anas fulgivula) is an indicator species to coastal marsh health and function. Currently, biologists have a relatively poor understanding of regional mottled duck movements. We outfitted adult female mottled ducks with solar satellite transmitters during summer 2009-2011. Movement patterns were measured among years and phenology, in relation to available habitat at the landscape level, and in association to potential disturbance. Movement distances were measured in ArcGIS and then evaluated using analysis of variance for independent variables of year, month, biological time period, and season. Average weekly distances traveled by mottled ducks were relatively short (<5,000 m) compared to other waterfowl. Movement occurrence and distance were linked to biological season with longest distances documented during the molt period.

Effective control of Nepalese browntop (Microstegium vimineum) is important to land managers in the eastern United States because invasions can suppress native vegetation, thus decreasing vegetation diversity and habitat quality for many wildlife species. We evaluated the effectiveness of herbicides with varying selectivity (glyphosate, imazapic, and clethodim) at full rates and half rates (based on labeled rates for annual grass control) on the control of japangrass and their effects on non-target vegetation. We conducted our experiment in three forested areas in east Tennessee. We measured species coverage using point transects before treatment, 60 days after treatment (60DAT), and one year after treatment (1YAT). Japangrass coverage 60DAT was similar for all six treatments (0%-8%), but differed from coverage in control plots (83%). The coverage of japangrass in all treatments was less than control plots 1YAT (10%-35% vs. 68%).

Mottled ducks (Anas fulvigula) are endemic to Gulf Coastal United States, Florida, and Mexico. Birds from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas were released in coastal South Carolina from 1975 - 1983, and subsequent banding data suggest a dispersing and increasing population in the state. Because autecology of mottled ducks is little known in South Carolina, we radio-marked 116 females in August 2010 - 2011 in the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers Basin to assess habitat use throughout the annual cycle. We monitored habitat use by aircraft during fall-winter and via ground reconnaissance during spring-summer. Because of small sample size due to radio-transmitter failure and logistics, we pooled data across years to obtain 1,241 locations from 67 females. Selection ratios (wi) showed that females selected managed tidal impoundments but avoided unmanaged wetlands during fall-winter and spring-summer.

Body condition, or an individual's ability to address metabolic needs, is an important measure of organism health. For waterfowl, body condition, usually some measure of fat, provides a useful proxy for assessing energy budgets during different life history periods and potentially is a measure of response to ecosystem changes. The mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) is relatively poorly studied in respect to these dynamics and presents a unique case because its non-migratory life-history strategy releases it from metabolic costs experienced by many related migratory waterfowl species. Additionally, as a species in decline and of conservation concern in many parts of its range, traditional methods of fat content estimation that involve destructive sampling are less viable.

Managers of public lands affording waterfowl hunting strive to provide quality hunting opportunities while supporting biological needs of birds during winter. Understanding responses by mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) to diurnal hunting activities would help shape hunt regimes that satisfy management goals. We examined use of a wildlife management area (WMA) in western Mississippi by 28 radio-marked female mallards when waterfowl hunting season was closed and during the season when none, half, or all of the WMA was hunted during two winters 2010-2012. The proportion of each day that mallards occupied the WMA was best explained by date (wi = 1.0) and declined 0.5%/day (± 0.05% [SE]). Mallard presence on the WMA was best explained by date plus an interaction of hour-of-day and extent the WMA was hunted (wi = 1.0).

Roller chopping and prescribed burning are treatments frequently applied to many southeastern rangeland systems, including Florida's pine flatwoods. These treatments can improve rangeland condition by reducing the cover of shrubs and promoting the growth of herbaceous species. How- ever, they have the potential to both positively and negatively affect insects, which provide important ecosystem services as pollinators and are a food source for numerous rangeland-associated avian species, some of which are of conservation concern.

We used scat analysis to evaluate the food habits and potential impacts of coyotes (Canis latrans) on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations in Georgia's Piedmont physiographic region. From March 2010 - February 2011, we analyzed 146 and 207 coyote scats on Cedar Creek (CC) and B. F. Grant (BFG) Wildlife Management Areas, respectively. Although separated by only 8 km, habitat composition and therefore prey availability was dissimilar between sites. We assumed small mammal density was greater on BFG than CC because early successional habitat was more common on BFG (28% of area vs 7% on CC). Similarly, estimated deer densities on BFG (29 deer/km2) were approximately twice that of CC (12 deer/km2). Commonly occurring food items in scats on both areas included persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), deer, hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.), and insects.

Triploid largemouth bass may have potential in sport fish management and in food fish production as a means to eliminate reproduction, which would, in turn, potentially increase somatic growth. To examine this potential, four cohorts of diploid and triploid largemouth bass were produced over a 10 &#45 yr period and tagged intramuscularly with coded wire tags. Bass were stocked into Lucchetti Reservoir, Puerto Rico, and recaptured during subsequent sampling events. Growth rates, condition (relative weight, Wr), and reproductive investment (gonadosomatic index, GSI) were compared for diploid and triploid fish. Mean daily growth rate (MDG) did not differ (P &#8805 0.050) between diploids and triploids overall (diploid MDG&#177SE=0.75 &#177 0.02 mm/d; triploid MDG&#177SE=0.74 &#177 0.03), or by age class through age 2.

In an effort to evaluate the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)'s long-term fisheries monitoring program for inland water bodies, we conducted a power analysis utilizing fish data from electrofishing, mini-fyke net, and gill net samples. We resampled data and simulated the effects of different combinations of gear and sample size for collecting presence - absence information. Our objective was to determine whether the use of either mini-fyke nets or gill nets could be eliminated or reduced in the monitoring program. Thirty fyke net/gill net gear combinations were evaluated to determine how many samples were needed to collect at least 80% of the known species when combined with FWC's standard 25 fall electrofishing samples. The best option (i.e., the gear combination that would require the least amount of sampling effort to achieve our target detection)included an additional 16 mini-fyke net sets and three field days for a crew of two.

Walleye (Sander vitreus) were collected during late winter-early spring in 2008 - 2011 at seven sites across Virginia to evaluate angler catch and exploitation. A total of 3116 walleye were tagged with FD94 T-bar Floy tags at four small impoundments (<200 ha), two large impoundments (>200 ha), and the New River during the course of the study. Anglers were offered a US$20 reward for the return of each tag, and 530 tags (17%) were returned. Adjusted annual catch rates ranged from 15% - 61%, with a mean of 29%. Annual exploitation ranged from 2% - 29% with a mean of 12%. Mean total length (TL) of angler-caught walleye was largest in large impoundments (489 mm), next largest in the New River (465 mm), and smallest in small impoundments (418 mm; P < 0.001). Mean TL of walleye harvested from small impoundments (462 mm) were smaller than those harvested from large impoundments (508 mm) or rivers (507 mm) (P < 0.001).

Hybrid striped bass (Morone saxatilis x Morone chrysops) are commonly introduced in southeastern U.S. reservoirs to create a sport fishery and as a means of utilizing abundant shad (Dorosoma spp.) populations. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has historically stocked the common-cross hybrid (M. saxatilis female x M. chrysops male; hereafter, common HSB) rather than the reciprocal-cross hybrid (M. saxatilis male x M. chrysops female; hereafter, reciprocal HSB). Due to concerns over downstream emigration of stocked fish from reservoirs, common HSB have mostly been stocked in reservoirs with low water exchange rates; whereas stockings in high flow-through reservoirs have been limited. Some evidence exists that reciprocal HSB have less tendency to emigrate from the reservoirs they are stocked in; however, a direct comparison of the two Morone hybrid crosses in Oklahoma reservoirs had never been done.

Recent studies have shown that black bass (Micropterus spp.) tournament angling continues to increase. The magnitude and implications of tournament-fish mortality have been studied often; however, the economic value of tournament angling has rarely been assessed. We determined the economic value of black bass tournament angling at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas. A total of 25,396 participants competed in 405 tournaments occurring from November 2007 to October 2008. The majority of tournaments (75%) had <50 participants and required an organization membership (bass club). Lower open tournaments (50 participants) accounted for 40% of tournament participants. Total tournament angler expenditures ($23.7 million) accounted for 74% of total angling expenditures ($31.9 million). One 3-day tournament with 3892 participants was responsible for 27% of total tournament expenditures and 20% of total angler expenditures.

Recent studies on largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fisheries indicate fishing mortality has declined significantly due to voluntary catch-and-release practices by anglers. We evaluated the relative abundance, growth, mortality, and exploitation of largemouth bass in three Georgia small impoundments. To assess exploitation, 100 largemouth bass were tagged during spring 2010 in Lake Lindsay Grace and Hugh M. Gillis Public Fishing Area and during spring 2011 in Dodge County Public Fishing Area. Monetary rewards for tag returns were either US$5 or $105 per fish, and these values were printed on the tags. Tag returns for the high-reward tags ranged from 30% to 47% across impoundments, whereas returns of the low-reward tags ranged from 13% to 26%. Annual exploitation (u) based on the high-reward tags ranged from 0.13 - 0.30 and total annual mortality (A) estimated from catch-curve analysis ranged from 0.38 to 0.55 across impoundments.

The Poteau River in southeastern Oklahoma contains a diverse mussel community, including 11 identified as species of greatest conservation need. The river is impounded by Wister Reservoir, a 2970-ha impoundment. In an attempt to improve water quality in the reservoir, a proposal was submitted to siphon eutrophic water from the bottom over the dam into the Poteau River. The movement of suspended sediments is expected to pose a significant threat to mussel assemblages below Wister Reservoir. To assess future project impacts on mussel assemblages, water quality and sediment analysis was conducted prior to the enactment of the proposal of the reservoir and in the river below the dam. Furthermore, a survey was conducted on mussels and potential host fishes in the first 27 km downstream of Wister Lake. Analysis of lake sediment samples showed elevated levels of phosphorus (>300 mg kg_1), nitrogen (>900 mg kg_1), and arsenic (>10 mg kg_1).

The Missouri Department of Conservation suspected that blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) and flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) were being heavily exploited by anglers in the 22,501-ha Harry S. Truman Reservoir in west-central Missouri. A volunteer catfish angler creel was conducted during 2003_2005 to assess catch, harvest trends, and the proportional contribution of the two catfish species to the overall catfish fishery by reservoir catfish anglers. Following recruitment, a total of 308 volunteers were trained and then asked to fill out daily diary forms after each catfishing trip. Volunteers were asked to supply fish length and harvest information for their catch and the catch of all members of their fishing party as well as a trip rating. Anglers who actively participated in the program were entered into a random drawing at the end of each fishing season and received prizes ranging in value from US$15 to $100.

Determining the water quality of estuarine ecosystems is difficult because of the environment's variable properties. Hexavalent chromium is a toxic metal found in estuarine ecosystems due to pollution from industrial surroundings, and methods are needed to determine biotic responses to chromium contamination. It is proposed that expression of the fatty-acid binding protein (FABP) gene in (Fundulus heteroclitus), a common estuarine inhabitant, and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) analytical techniques can be used as indicators of hexavalent chromium contamination. Using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), FABP gene expression was analyzed to see if expression or non-expression occurred after contamination with hexavalent chromium.

In 2001, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency biologists sampled what morphologically appeared to be Alabama bass (Micropterus henshalli) in Parksville Reservoir (Tennessee River Basin). Alabama bass, which are morphologically similar to spotted bass (M. punctulatus), are endemic to the Mobile Basin and had never been previously stocked in Parksville Reservoir. This study sought to confirm the identification of this nonnative fish species in Parksville Reservoir and assess the extent of hybridization with other black bass species within the lake and surrounding water bodies (Chickamauga Reservoir and tributaries). We used five microsatellite loci known to be highly informative for the identification of spotted bass and Alabama bass to assess the taxonomic identity and extent of hybridization for putative Alabama bass samples collected from Parksville Reservoir (n = 63) and spotted bass collected from Chickamauga Reservoir and tributaries (n = 61).