• Biological Survey of Yanty Creek Marsh at Hamlin Beach State Park

      Makarewicz, Joseph C.; Haynes, James M.; Dilcher, Ronald C.; Hunter, John C.; Norment, Christopher J.; Lewis, Theodore W.; The College at Brockport (2000-08-01)
      Four primary objectives were addressed in this study: 1 . To undertake a survey of the biological resources of Yanty Creek. 2 . To compare relative abundance and species richness of phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic macroinvertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammtals and plants in Yanty Creek marsh and adjacent areas to literature on other embayments and wetlands in the Great Lakes region. 3. To predict the types of changes that may occur in the biological diversity of Yanty Creek marsh should the barrier beach be breached. 4. To write a final report that compiles new and existing information on the species and communities of Yanty Creek marsh and emphasizes elements of concern to the NYS Natural Heritage Program such as rare plants and c ommunities, significant plants and communities for animal species, plants and communities likely to be impacted by breaching of the barrier beach, and invasive exotic species. Comparisons to other sites on Lake Ontario and elsewhere were based only on existing literature or unpublished data collected by the principal investigators that was fragmentary and compromised by differences in sampling methodology and effort. Together, our survey of Yanty Creek marsh and the literature review were used to: 1 ) compare the marsh to other wetlands that have been studied, 2) assess its b iodiversity as high, moderate or low relative to other wetlands, 3) Evaluate threats posed by invasive exotic species and breaching of the barrier beach, and 4) make recommendations for managing the marsh.
    • Effects of Plot Size and Habitat Characteristics on Breeding Success of Scarlet Tanagers

      Roberts, Christopher; Norment, Christopher J.; The College at Brockport (1999-01-01)
      We studied the effects of forest patch size and habitat characteristics on breeding success of Scarlet Tanagers (Piranga olivacea) in western New York in 1995 and 1996. Twenty forest stands were grouped into four size classes: Group I (<10>ha, n = 6), Group 11 (10 to 50 ha, n = 7), Group III (>50 to 150 ha, n = 5), and Group IV (>1,000 ha, n = 2). Group I, II, and III sites were habitat patches located in fragmented landscapes, whereas Group IV sites were located in continuous forests. Although densities of male tanagers were similar in Group II, III, and IV sites, tanagers were absent from all forest patches smaller than 10 ha. Territory size did not differ among males in Group II, III, and IV sites. Pairing success exceeded 75% in all forest size classes in 1995 and 1996, and 100% of the observed males were paired in continuous forest sites. Pairing success differed significantly among forest size classes in 1995 and approached significance in 1996. Fledging success increased significantly with area and was highest (64%) in continuous forest sites. Stepwise multiple regression and principal components analysis indicated that male tanagers breeding in for-est patches with higher canopy cover and lower density of oaks had higher pairing success than males in patches with lower canopy cover and higher density of oaks, and that males breeding in larger forest patches with more surrounding forest cover had higher fledging success than males in small patches with less surrounding forest cover. Our results indicate that: (1) breeding density is not a good indicator of habitat quality for forest-interior Neotropical migrants, and (2) large tracts of continuous forest are important for maintaining populations of these species.
    • Evaluation of a Reproductive Index for Estimating Productivity of Grassland Breeding Birds

      Morgan, Michael R.; Norment, Christopher J.; Runge, Michael C.; The College at Brockport; U.S. Geological Survey (2010-01-01)
      Declining populations of grassland breeding birds have led to increased efforts to assess habitat quality, typically by estimating density or relative abundance. Because some grassland habitats may function as ecological traps, a more appropriate metric for determining quality is breeding success, which is challenging to determine for many cryptic-nesting grassland birds. This difficulty led Vickery et al. (1992) to propose a reproductive index based on behavioral observations rather than nest fate. We rigorously evaluated the index for 2 years using a Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) population in western New York and found a weak correlation in classification of the breeding stages of monitored territories among multiple observers (r = 0.398). We also discovered a large difference between overall territory and nest success rates independently estimated with the index (9.8% over the entire breeding cycle) and with nest searching and monitoring (41.7% of nests successfully fledged young). Most importantly, we made territory-level comparisons of index estimates with actual nest fate and found that the index correctly predicted fates for only 43% of the monitored nests. A Mayfield logistic regression analysis demonstrated that only index rank 4 (eggs hatched, but young failed to fledge) showed a strong positive correlation with nest success. Although the reproductive index may function as a coarse indicator of habitat suitability (e.g., documenting production in potential ecological traps), in our study the index exhibited neither internal consistency nor the ability to predict nest fate at the plot or territory level and functioned poorly as a substitute for nest searching and monitoring.
    • Experimental Analysis of Nest Predation: Effects of Habitat and Nest Distribution

      Ardizzone, Charles D.; Norment, Christopher J.; The College at Brockport (1999-09-01)
      Depredation of artificial avian ground nests was studied in 1994 and 1995 on cool-season and warm-season grasslands in western New York State. The study examined the effects of habitat type and distance from forested edge on nest success in adjacent fields. Two experiments were conducted. The first examined the effects of nest distribution on nest success. Experimental predation rates were highest at the field-forest boundary, although there was no correlation between predation rate and distance from edge. Overall predation rates for cool-season grasslands differed significantly between years, with predation rates being higher during the 1995 field season. The second experiment examined the effects of dense nesting cover on nest success. Predation rates for nests in dense nesting cover varied among distance classes in 1995 but not in 1994; predation rates were also higher in 1995 than in 1994. Experimental rates of nest predation were similar in pasture/cool-season grasslands and warm-season grasslands in both years, suggesting that dense cover did not improve productivity of ground-nesting birds. Indirect evidence suggested that the primary predators along the forest-field boundaries were mammals, with birds and small mammals most frequently depredating nests away from the edge. This study suggests that dense nesting cover does not increase nesting success for small passerines on our study site.
    • Habitat Relations and Breeding Biology of Grassland Birds in Western New York: Management Implications

      Norment, Christopher J.; Ardizzone, Charles D.; Hartman, Kathleen; The College at Brockport (1999-09-01)
      In 1994 we began a study of the habitat relations and breeding biology of grassland birds in western New York. Most fields contained fewer than four grassland species, with Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorous) and Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) being the two most common species. Species of management concern in the Northeast, such as Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) and Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), were absent from the study area. Bird habitat models generated through Principal Components Analysis and stepwise multiple regression indicated that field area, or variables correlated with area, explained most of the variation in overall grassland bird species richness (partial r2 = 0.43) and abundance (partial r2 = 0.60) and in the abundance of Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows. Grassland birds were generally absent from fields smaller than 5 hectares. Areas with few shrubs and low horizontal heterogeneity supported more grassland bird species than did fields with more shrubs and high horizontal heterogeneity, and fields with shorter, less dense vegetation had more individuals than did fields with taller, dense vegetation. Few grassland birds occurred in fields planted in switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) monocultures. More than 90 percent of all known nesting pairs fledged young by the end of the first week in July. Nest success was generally high; the proportion of nests fledging one or more young was 0.76 for Savannah Sparrows, 0.54 for Bobolinks, and 0.67 for Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna). Grassland bird populations in this study may benefit from management practices that increase field area, control shrub invasion, and encourage the growth of grasses other than switchgrass. The current low levels of grazing at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, with cattle allowed in pastures only after 15 July, do not appear to be harmful to grassland bird populations.
    • Habitat Selection and Dispersal of the Cobblestone Tiger Beetle (Cincidel marginipennis Dejean) along the Genesee River, New York

      Hudgins, Rhonda; Norment, Christopher J.; Schlesinger, Matthew D.; Novak, Paul G.; New York Natural Heritage Program; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; The College at Brockport (2011-04-01)
      The goal of this study was to determine ecological, behavioral and environmental factors that would facilitate a management plan for the rare cobblestone tiger beetle (Cicindela marginipennis). We used a mark – recapture study to document dispersal distances of the cobblestone tiger beetle along the upper Genesee River in western New York and binomial logistic regression models to compare habitat characteristics measured during occupancy surveys. Cobblestone tiger beetles occupied cobble bars with approximately twice the interior area and difference between minimum and maximum elevation, and higher shrub cover, than unoccupied cobble bars. Beetles occasionally dispersed distances greater than the maximum distance between cobble bars in our study area. In order to preserve cobblestone tiger beetles and riparian habitats along the upper Genesee River, habitats should be managed to reduce impacts from recreational activities and sand/gravel mining.
    • Nest Site Characteristics and Nest Predation in Harris' Sparrows and White-Crowned Sparrows in the Northwest Territories

      Norment, Christopher J.; The College at Brockport (1993-10-01)
      I examined the relationship of nest-site and nest-patch characteristics to nest success in ground-nesting Harris' Sparrows (Zonotrichia querula) and Gambel's White-crowned Sparrows (Z. leucophrys gambelii) in the forest-tundra ecotone of the Northwest Territories, Canada. I found 34% of all Harris' Sparrow nests depredated, primarily by arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii), while no White-crowned Sparrow nests were disturbed by predators. White-crowned Sparrow nests appeared to be less susceptible to predation than Harris' Sparrow nests because the former were placed in areas with more shrubs and ground cover, and denser vegetation, than were Harris' Sparrow nests. Comparison of successful and depredated Harris' Sparrow nests supported the idea that interspecific differences in rates of nest predation were due to differences in concealment rather than to density-dependent nest predation. Successful Harris' Sparrow nests were placed in areas with more shrub cover and more dense vegetation within 5 m of the nest than were depredated nests. Orientation of the nest entrance did not differ between Harris' and White-crowned sparrow nests, nor between successful and depredated Harris' Sparrow nests. However, nest entrances of both species were nonrandomly oriented, with mean orientation vectors 135 degrees to 170 degrees from pre-vailing storms. Reasons for the tendency of Harris' Sparrows to select sites where chances of predation are relatively high are unclear, but could be related to a lack of suitable nest sites in the study area.
    • On Grassland Bird Conservation in the Northeast

      Norment, Christopher J.; The College at Brockport (2002-01-01)
    • Standardized Measures of Coastal Wetland Condition: Implementation at a Laurentian Great Lakes Basin-Wide Scale

      Uzarski, Donald G.; Brady, Valerie J.; Cooper, Matthew J.; Wilcox, Douglas A.; Albert, Dennis A.; Axler, Richard P.; Bostwick, Peg; Brown, Terry N.; Ciborowski, Jan J.H.; Gathman, Joseph P.; et al. (2017-01-01)
      Since European settlement, over 50% of coastal wetlands have been lost in the Laurentian Great Lakes basin, causing growing concern and increased monitoring by government agencies. For over a decade, monitoring efforts have focused on the development of regional and organism-specific measures. To facilitate collaboration and information sharing between public, private, and government agencies throughout the Great Lakes basin, we developed standardized methods and indicators used for assessing wetland condition. Using an ecosystem approach and a stratified random site selection process, birds, anurans, fish, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, and physico-chemical conditions were sampled in coastal wetlands of all five Great Lakes including sites from the United States and Canada. Our primary objective was to implement a standardized basin-wide coastal wetland monitoring program that would be a powerful tool to inform decision-makers on coastal wetland conservation and restoration priorities throughout the Great Lakes basin.
    • The Effect of Nectar-Thieving Ants on the Reproductive Success of Frasera speciosa (Gentianaceae)

      Norment, Christopher J.; The College at Brockport (1988-10-01)
      The impact of nectar-thieving ants on the reproductive success of Frasera speciosa (Gentianaceae), a perennial monocarp with periodic, synchronous flowering, was studied in a Wyoming alpine meadow. Plants from which ants were excluded had higher rates of flower visitation by other insects, and higher standing crops of nectar, than did plants visited by ants. However, there were no significant differences in either seed set or seed predation in plants with and without ants. The lack of effect of ants upon the reproductive success of Frasera may be due in part to temporal separation of the activities of ants and some important pollinators and seed predators. However, the abundant nectar produc- tion, large inflorescences and low rates of seed predation in Frasera, which are all related to its habit of periodic synchronous flowering, may reduce the effects of nectar-thieving ants upon the species.