Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

1) Carnivore conservation

Top predators perform critical roles in the ecosystem they inhabit by providing top-down regulation of the trophic pyramid. We do carnivore research in Romania and in Ohio.

Romania hosts a significant proportion of the European carnivore populations (brown bear, Eurasian lynx, gray wolf), and their conservation status in Romania influences the European-level conservation strategies. For brown bears, hunting represents a major source of contention between the regulatory agencies and ENGOs, stemming from a less-than rigorous approach to estimating abundances (which hunting quotas rely on). We work with Romanian academics, NGOs and EPAs to develop monitoring protocols for large carnivores (http://www.carnivoremari.ro/home.php; http://www.wolflife.eu/; http://connectcarpathians.ro/?lang=en). We are also assessing the sustainability of large carnivore hunting (see our paper in Journal of Applied Ecology), and evaluate brown bear home ranges and habitat selection in Eastern Carpathians.

 

In Ohio, we work with Ohio Department of Natural Resources on carnivore ecology and determining patterns of species occurrence in SE Ohio. The focal species are bobcat and grey fox. We implemented a camera trapping in Summer 2016, which formed the basis for a Honors Tutorial College Senior Thesis by Mackenzie Rich.

We are currently funded by the Ohio DNR ($245,000) over the next 4 years to develop a population model for Ohio’s recovering bobcat population to aid management and conservation. Grad student Heidi Bencin implemented a preliminary camera trapping and non-invasive genetics study in Summer/Fall 2017… stay tuned for results

happy_bobcat1

2) California Spotted Owl occupancy
 
We work with Zach Peery at University of Wisconsin, Madison (through a US Forest Service grant) on evaluating the power of using acoustic monitoring for California Spotted Owls. Acoustic monitoring represents a cheaper alternative to intense population monitoring based on capturing and following We are running a range of simulations to evaluate (1) the power to detect changes in territory occupancy due to fire-suppression forestry treatments, and (2) the power to detect long-term trends in territory occupancy. These simulations will inform the US Forest service on the best strategies to implement an acoustic-based monitoring protocol in terms of number of sites, and number of annual revisits to detect population changes. This framework extends work that Perry de Valpine (UC Berkeley) and I did on combining BACI and occupancy designs (Popescu et al_2012_EcolApps_BACI dynamic occupancy designs).
3) Deer movement and roads

Mitigation of deer-vehicle collisions in the Nelsonville Bypass of US Highway 33; we work with the Ohio Dept of Transportation to monitor deer movements and the efficacy of road mortality mitigation structures using remote cameras and pellet count surveys

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