• Georeference Inventory of SUNY Plattsburgh's Taxidermy Collection

      Garneau, Danielle; Van Splinter, Jessica (2014)
      In the midst of global climate change, invasive species, habitat loss/fragmentation, and pollution, which leads to local extirpation and extinction, taxidermy collections are essential in educating the public on the importance of natural history. Documentation of where specimens are collected is critical to understanding mammal range shifts in this time of global change. The goal of this inventory was to georeference SUNY Plattsburgh's taxidermy collection to assess whether there were some regional hotspots of collection that might be sources of sampling in the future. Georeferencing included noting species name, collection site, morphological measurements, as well as other information on the voucher specimen tag and importing that into GIS. Approximately, half of all the voucher specimens in the collection were unmarked, 35% were collected from Clinton County (19% Plattsburgh), and 10% from Essex County (3% Lewis). All specimens documented were collected from New York State. Several unique specimens were documented including a bobcat (Lynx rufus), black bear (Ursus americanus), fisher (Martes pennan), red (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteous). Small mammals, including deer mice and white-footed mice (Peromyscus spp., 15%), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonious, 10%), and snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus, 8%) were among the most abundant voucher species. The importance of continued sampling in these same voucher collection sites, might prove helpful when tracking range expansions as climate changes over the next century. SUNY Plattsburgh's snowshoe hare voucher specimens correspond to the southern edge of the historic range of the species and span the border of that range across four counties (e.g., Clinton, Essex, Warren, Ulster). Future implications for this information may include documentation of shifts in their southern range boarder as local conditions change in response to anthropogenic effects.
    • Survey of Muskrat Population on Ausable and Wickham Marshes in Clinton County, New York

      Garneau, Danielle; Premo, Josh; Podwirny, Kate; Smith, Caleb (2014)
      The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is a medium sized aquatic rodent that historically has been an important fur bearing mammal for the eastern United States. From late January through mid-March, 2010, both Wickham and Ausable marshes in Clinton County, New York were surveyed to assess muskrat distribution and abundance patterns. Using belt transects, Wickham marsh was surveyed entirely. As a result of unseasonably warm weather and ice instability, only a section of the Ausable marsh was surveyed and will be completed next winter. Vegetation at each GPS marked den site was noted, as well as den height and width. Following the ground survey, GPS locations of den sites were imported into an ArcMap project to facilitate occupancy comparisons between marshes. Results from this survey suggest that there is overlap in home range and territories of most muskrats on these marshes, and that the dens are often associated with emergent grasses and shrubs. The width of the muskrat dens was not significantly different (p = 0.21) between the marshes, in contrast to their height (p = 0.011). Results from this study suggest that differences in the management practices at the two marshes could influence the distribution of muskrats. This study provides information which can help assist wildlife managers and will add to the gap in literature for this ecosystem engineer.
    • Vernal Pool Status Following Two Major Disturbances (100 year flood and Hurricane Irene)

      Garneau, Danielle; Schultz, Rachel; Keefe, Ian; Carpenter, Cody (2014)
      Vernal pools are crucial for the survival of herpetofaunal species. These temporary ponds are necessary breeding sites for many amphibious species and act as safe refugia, as many lack permanent predators that would be encountered in other more constant water bodies. The goal of this survey was to relocate and map the area and contagion (i.e., patch isolation, arrangement) of 16 vernal pools located in Rugar Woods, which were previously inventoried by Cody Carpenter 2011. Additionally, we sought to assess these vernal pools, following two severe disturbances, specifically the 100 year flood and Hurricane Irene. A global positioning system (GPS) device was used to mark the size of each vernal pool and georeference them in GIS. Results suggest that large disturbances have affected the distribution and abundance of these pools at Rugar Woods. Specifically, several vernal pools (#7, 8, 9) have now merged into one large pool. Additionally, the abundance of vernal pools has gone from 16 to 7 since 2011. The merging of 3 smaller pools serves to increase area and may support greater species richness including predators, as it may be more permanent. In addition, loss of pools increases pool isolation, perhaps leading to genetic drift effects. Findings from this study offer insights into how large-scale disturbance events can influence herpetofaunal communities.