• Small Mammal Community Response to Wildfire at the Altona Flat Rock Sandstone Pavement Barren

      Garneau, Danielle; Hendrick, Michala; Darienzo, Lauren; Farr, Emily; Epifaino, Alex; Garneau, Danielle (2021-03-17)
      The Altona Flat Rock is a sandstone pavement barren, dominated by the fire-dependent species known as Pinus banksiana (Jack Pine). Changes in seed availability, understory structure, and predator presence influence wildlife migration within the barren. Additionally, small mammal abundance often fluctuates cyclical in response to tree masting. In July 2018, a wildfire occurred at the Flat Rock pine barren. We aimed to monitor small mammal response to wildfire over the course of a year. Small mammal traps were set along established transects capturing the fire severity gradient and adjacent reference unburned area. Along those same transects, giving up density surveys (GUDS) were performed to foraging patterns in these varied microhabitats. We predicted greater capture rates and community diversity in the burn immediately post-fire due to access to the abundant serotinous Jack Pine seeds. In fall 2018 immediately following the wildfire, a total of 67 small mammals were captured with 1.5 times more in the unburned than burned area. The small mammal community consisted of Peromyscus spp. comprising 87% of captures and insectivores Sorex cinereus (Masked Shrew) and Blarina brevicauda (Northern Short-tailed Shrew) were absent from the burn. In fall of 2019, a total of 21 small mammals were captured with 3 times more in the burn than in unburned area. Community composition was exclusively Peromyscus spp. Over the course of a year, we noted a significant reduction in captures and a shift in microhabitat usage from unburned (2018) to burn (2019) likely in response to regenerating vegetation ameliorating predation risk. Interestingly, average body mass and total body length were higher in Peromyscus spp. in 2019, perhaps in response to increased seed predation. GUD survey results show seed foraging was 67% greater in 2018. Collaborators monitoring game cameras at the barren noted increased predator use of the unburned and burned areas in winter 2018 and spring 2019, respectively and a significant decline of predators from the area in late summer-fall 2019. A predator decrease in fall 2019 is paralleled with a significant decline in Peromyscus spp. This preliminary research has revealed the complexity of small mammal response to wildfire. Long-term monitoring will likely uncover their connection to resources, microhabitat structure, and predator abundance as regeneration continues.
    • Spatial and Temporal Distribution and Abundance Microplastics in Lake Champlain Long-Term Monitoring Samples

      Garneau, Danielle; Allen, Eileen; Hagar, Susan-Marie; Austin, Lindsey (2017)
      Microplastics are particles less than 5mm in size, characterized as fibers, fragments, beads, foams, and pellets. Microplastics (MP) arise from four main processes: environmental degradation (UV exposure, mechanical and/or biological), direct release by means of wastewater treatment processing, unintentional loss of raw materials, and discharge of macerated wastes. Microplastics are potentially toxic to aquatic biota and the presence of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems is largely under-researched. The goal of our research was to examine the spatial and temporal distribution of microplastics and pre-production particulate (nurdles) from long-term monitoring (LTM) zooplankton samples within Lake Champlain collected between 1992-2016. Nurdles were counted in full from samples, whereas microplastics (e.g., fragments, fibers) were subsampled due to size. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) characterized nurdles as polyisoprene rubber ribbon. Within the LTM samples (n = 2265), nurdles (n = 3455) and microplastics (n = 249), predominantly fibers, were identified. The greatest microplastic abundance was noted in 2015 (n = 73 microplastics, n = 494 samples). Nurdles were found only in samples that had been collected 2012-2016, with the greatest nurdle abundance noted in 2012 (n = 1,169 nurdles, n = 412 samples) and at varying depths. Nurdle abundance declined since the 2012 peak and in 2015 was greatly reduced (n = 531 nurdles, n = 494 samples). Spatial distribution maps suggest the complexity of the story with high abundances at deep central locations, as well as shallow isolated bays. The high influx of nurdles in 2012 may be related to the 2011 Lake Champlain flood; however more research will need to be conducted to tease apart timing and potential nurdle point-sources (e.g., train tracks, industrial/urban centers).
    • Species Verification of Peromyscus spp. through Salivary Amylase Gel Electrophoresis

      Garneau, Danielle; Goldberg, Brett; Bishop, Charles (2014)
      Often field identification of sympatric organisms becomes difficult when species are morphologically and behaviorally similar. Additionally, regional traits unique to subspecies further confound typical field marking identification techniques (e.g., tail length: body length ratios, tail bi-coloration). The importance of this verification might bring to question historic range maps and biodiversity trends in earlier published research which relied heavily on field markings. This field and lab-based study was performed to help verify field identification of white-footed mice (<em>Peromyscus leucopus</em>) (Fig. 1a) and deer mouse (<em>Peromyscus maniculatus</em>)(Fig. 1b) using a salivary amylase gel electrophoresis assay. Saliva samples were extracted from captured <em>Peromyscus</em> spp. from four different locations in NY, PA, and MA. Mice captured in NY were identified in the field as both species. Interestingly, mice in New York surveys captured within mixed forest sites were found to be of both species, whereas those captured on the sandstone pavement barren site were all <em>P. leucopus</em>. Researchers in PA identified all mice in the field as <em>P. leucopus</em>; however, salivary amylase results suggest that these species are in fact sympatric. Contrastingly, at the MA site all mice were identified in the field as <em>P. leucopus</em>, and gel verification supported this finding. This research suggests the need for molecular verification in all biodiversity surveys where species identity is uncertain. Additionally, this technique has provided an interesting future research avenue which suggests that conditions on the Altona flat rock barren are more favorable for <em>P. leucopus</em>.
    • SUNY Plattsburgh Taxidermy Collection 2010 Inventory

      Garneau, Danielle; Klein, Jason (2014)
      During Hudson renovations 10 cabinets were found which contained a valuable collection of specimens ranging from invertebrate shells to endangered bird eggs, and local mammals. The focus of our research has been to preserve, organize, and prepare an inventory of mammal specimens to be catalogued in the Biocollections program in Specify6 (University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS) in the future. Specify6 is a data processing program used in museum and herbarium research. The majority of mammal museum preparation specimens were collected by prior SUNY Plattsburgh faculty, specifically Dr. Phil Walker, Dr. Harold Klein, as well as Biology students (dating back to 1960s). Additionally, several animal preparations were completed by students in wildlife-related courses as a taxidermy exercise, similar to the museum preparation lab in Wildlife Ecology and Management (ENV 430)
    • Survey of Artificial Nest Boxes and Tree Cavities for Secondary Cavity Nesting Avifauna in Northern New York

      Garneau, Danielle; Hammer, Chad (2017)
      Cavity nesting species use tree holes which result from either prior excavation activity or decay due to branch damage or disease. These tree cavities serve as an important refuge for safety, shelter, and nesting sites. Avian cavity nesters are classified as primary (i.e., excavate their own cavities) or secondary (i.e., occupy naturally occurring cavities or existing cavities created by primary excavators). During May-September 2016, cavity nesting of secondary cavity nesters Falco sparverius (American Kestrel) and three species of waterfowl, specifically Aix sponsa (Wood Duck), Lophodytes cucullatus (Hooded Merganser), and Bucephala clangula (Common Goldeneye) was monitored at Lake Alice Wildlife Management Area (LAWMA), Clinton County, NY. Goals of the monitoring were threefold, 1) monitor the 17 artificial waterfowl nest boxes and 3 American Kestrel boxes; 2) survey natural tree cavities in adjacent forest to gain baseline occupancy information; 3) compare results of artificial waterfowl nest box occupancy to those of prior years under monitoring by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Of the 17 waterfowl nest boxes, only 29% (n = 5) contained Wood Duck nests, of which two were unsuccessful. Of the 46 total eggs, 50% (n = 23) hatched successfully. The three American Kestrel boxes failed to attract the target species, but were occupied by Tachycineta bicolor (Tree Swallow). Tree cavities were surveyed using line transect sampling and occupants were observed using an extension pole and GoPro camera accessed using a smartphone mobile app. Twenty-nine natural tree cavities and 2 abandoned passerine nests (south-facing) were noted in 19 trees ranging in diameter at breast height from 22-79 cm and comprised of 42% (n = 8) Acer rubrum (Red Maple), 11% (n = 2) Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple), 5% (n = 1) Fraxinus americana (White Ash), and 42% (n = 8) snags. Woodpeckers excavated 62% (n = 18) and 38% (n = 11) were natural limb and canopy damage. With 29% occupancy rates and 50% unhatched eggs observed at LAWMA, we recommend relocating underused or ineffectively placed nest boxes, especially those adjacent pools which have since dried.
    • A Survey of Microplastic Pollution from Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent Within the Lake Champlain Basin

      Le Tarte, Lucas; McCauley, Nathaniel; Moriarty, Melissa; Lee, Erin; Buksa, Brandon; Niekrewicz, Thomas; Garneau, Danielle (2019-05)
      Microplastics are an emerging and ubiquitous pollutant. Recent studies suggest that consumer care products and laundering of synthetic garments are major sources of microplastics. Most current wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) technologies are limited in their ability to remove particulate <5mm in size and pose a threat to aquatic organisms. Since 2013, we have been surveying WWTP post-treatment effluent samples with the city of Plattsburgh, NY (N = 61), in 2016 we brought online St Albans, VT (N = 64), Ticonderoga, NY (N = 42), and Burlington, VT (N = 21), and in 2017 Vergennes, VT (N = 20). Post-treatment effluent samples derive from 24 hour plant sampling events and were processed using wet peroxide oxidation methods. All samples were characterized based on the type of microplastic (e.g., fragment, fiber, pellet, film, foam), size, and color, as well as polymer type using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Plant-specific characterization revealed fibers were the most common microplastic in Vergennes (55%) and Ticonderoga (39%), as compared to foam (52%) in St. Albans, fragments (43%) in Plattsburgh, and similar proportions of fragment and films (31%) in Burlington. Estimated output of microplastic particles per day were: Plattsburgh (n = 14,972), St. Albans (n = 28,620), Burlington (n = 19,806), Ticonderoga (n = 10,544), and Vergennes (n = 576). Additionally, polymer type varied by plant and included HDPE, PVA, and styrene. Differences likely reflect plant characteristics, for example Plattsburgh and Burlington serve a similar sized population and have a similar capacity, the difference in particle abundances may be due to varied infrastructure updates. In addition, St. Albans and Vergennes have tertiary treatment; however dates of recent upgrades vary. Microplastic pollution is a concern when we account for plant 24 flow rate and lakewide distribution. Microplastics have the potential to adsorb harmful chemicals residing in the water and pose risk to aquatic organisms and human health. By documenting wastewater treatment plants as a source of microplastics, we can share these findings with plant operators, lake stewards, government officials, and work towards solutions both up and downstream.
    • A Survey of Microplastics in Invertebrates in the Lake Champlain Basin

      Garneau, Danielle; Masterson, Riley (2018)
      The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics (MP) were ingested by aquatic macroinvertebrates resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) microplastic particulate. In more recent samples, we have dried and weighed invertebrates to better assess uptake. Preliminary wet peroxide oxidation digests were performed on aquatic invertebrates (n = 301). Invertebrate specimens were collected across two classes (Insecta, Malacostra) and 7 orders including Coleoptera, Ephemeroptera, Hemiptera, Odonata, Trichoptera, Mysida, and Amphipodae. These representative organisms are an important part of the lake food web, serving as preferred food for higher vertebrates including fish and waterfowl. Aquatic macroinvertebrates in our sample possess unique feeding methods, such as filter feeding, scraping, piercing, shredding, scavenging, collecting/gathering, and predation. Our research indicated that fibers were the most common microplastic type uptaken by invertebrates. Preliminary results suggest that, Hydropsyche, a filter-feeding insect digested, the greatest mean number of MP’s (n=3). Lake Champlain macroinvertebrates contained on average 0.36 microplastic particles. There are limited reports of microplastics uptaken in aquatic invertebrates and this research provides baseline information for a guild that will be involved in trophic transfer. Results from this research serve to inform residents of the Lake Champlain watershed, anglers, non-profit lake organizations, as well as public health and government officials of the risks microplastics pose to aquatic biota and ultimately humans.
    • A Survey of Microplastics in Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent in the Lake Champlain Basin

      Garneau, Danielle; Brown, Sadie; Lee, Erin; Buksa, Brandon; Niekrewicz, Thomas (2017)
      Microplastic pollution researchers are beginning to quantify, characterize, and collaborate on finding solutions to this emerging pollution problem. Recent studies have documented consumer care products and laundering of synthetic garments as major sources of microplastics. Most current wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) technologies are unable to capture and remove particulate size; thus, bioaccumulation over time poses a threat to aquatic organisms. In 2015, we began surveying WWTP post-treatment effluent samples from the city of Plattsburgh, NY (n = 31) and in 2016, added 3 other plants in the Lake Champlain watershed, specifically St Albans, VT (n = 8), Ticonderoga, NY (n = 4), and Burlington, VT (n = 1). Twenty-fourâ hour post-treatment effluent samples were collected and digested using wet peroxide oxidation methods. All samples were characterized based on microplastic type (e.g., fragment, fiber, pellet, film, foam) and color. Across all sites, the majority of microplastics were characterized as fragments, followed by fibers, with the exception of St Albans, which was dominated by fibers. The fragment:fiber ratio was 51:23 at Plattsburgh, 61:18 at St Albans, 44:40 at Ticonderoga, and 69:18 at Burlington. Pellets and films were characterized at all sites as 1â 12% of total particulates; whereas foam comprised 3â 11% of total particulates and was absent in Ticonderoga. Over the course of this collection period, high flow rates yielded more pellets and low flow rates more films. When accounting for the number of samples processed, average particles per 24-hour sampling event are 21, 29, 49, and 117 for Plattsburgh, St. Albans, Ticonderoga, and Burlington, respectively. Plattsburgh and Burlington serve a similar-sized population and have a similar capacity, the difference in particle abundances may be due to differences in infrastructure updates (2013 at Plattsburgh and 1994 at Burlington). St. Albans and Ticonderoga serve similar population sizes; however, St. Albans has tertiary treatment, which may account for the lower average particulates per sample (29 at St. Albans and 49 at Ticonderoga). By documenting wastewater treatment plants as a source of microplastics, we can share these findings with wastewater treatment plant operators, lake stewards, government officials, and work towards solutions both up and downstream.
    • Survey of Migratory Waterfowl on Krystal Lake Quarry Pond, Chazy, NY

      Garneau, Danielle; Franzi, Dave; Straub, Jacob; Berrus, Michelle (2014)
      Nitrogen and phosphorus addition from fecal matter of Branta canadensis (Canada geese), Chen caerulescens (Snow geese), and other migratory waterfowl can impact water quality in a lake ecosystem. Krystal Lake is an 18m deep groundwater fed abandoned limestone quarry located 2.14km from Lake Champlain, in Chazy, NY. This small aquatic system allowed us to examine the effects of nutrient loading from waterfowl without major nutrient losses due to its limited inflow and outflow. Throughout fall 2012, we measured nutrient levels (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulfate, and chloride), biogenic oxygen demand, water temperature, and turbidity weekly from fixed buoy locations. We also estimated daily goose abundance using two methods; 1) once weekly visual point counts and 2) twice daily trail camera photos. Geese first arrived on the lake 11 Sept. (Branta spp.) and 17 Sept. (Chen spp.). Nutrient input calculations were based on known concentrations in excreta, from literature. We estimated that goose nutrient loading into the lake reached a maximum of 6,283g N and 1,961g P in one day. Nutrient loading for the study period totaled 40,401g N and 12,609g P from 25,733 cumulative goose days. Upon comparison of seasonal inputs with other similar sized lakes, we found that Krystal Lake experienced a disproportionately high nutrient influx. This quantity of nutrient input from migratory waterfowl will likely lead to eutrophication.
    • 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.
    • Survey of Small Mammals on the Altona Flat Rock and the Gadway Sandstone Pavement Barren

      Garneau, Danielle; Frenyea, Kayla; Wilson, Whitney (2014)
      Sympatric species that compete over similar resources should not be able to coexist without niche partitioning. White-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and deer mice (P. maniculatus) both share similar habitat and resources. Researchers have suggested that this coexistence is permitted as a result of physiological and/or behavioral differences among these two species. This study was conducted at two sandstone pavement barrens, selected for their global rarity as natural heritage sites, specifically the Altona Flat Rock in Chazy, and the Gadway sandstone pavement barren in Mooers, New York. Sixty Sherman live traps were monitored monthly, for four consecutive nights, over the course of the summer. P. leucopus and P. maniculatus are similar in pelage color and become difficult to distinguish morphologically, such that several metrics were collected. Additionally, saliva samples were drawn from each Peromyscus spp. in order to determine species using molecular verification via salivary amylase electrophoresus. There was a greater relative abundance of white-footed mice (P. leucopus) as compared to deer mice (P. maniculatus) on both the Altona Flat Rock and Gadway sandstone pavement barren. Red-backed voles, chipmunks, flying squirrel, red squirrel, meadow-jumping mice, and northern short-tailed shrews were also found at the Altona Flat Rock. Red-backed voles were not present on the Gadway sandstone pavement barren; however, northern short-tailed shrews, chipmunks, and red squirrels were common. The overall goal of our experiment was to determine the species composition of small mammals located on these unique sandstone pavement barrens. Additionally, our research served to determine whether sympatric populations of Peromyscus spp. were both present or if the sites were solely dominated by P. leucopus as was previously presumed.
    • Survey of the Abundance and Distribution of Nurdles and Microplastics in Long-term Monitoring Zooplankton Samples from Lake Champlain

      Garneau, Danielle; Allen, Eileen; Hagar, Susan-Marie (2016)
      Microplastics are particles less than 5mm in size, characterized as fibers, fragments, beads,foams, and pellets. Microplastics arise from four main processes: environmental degradation(UV exposure, mechanical and/or biological), direct release by means of wastewatertreatment processing, unintentional loss of raw materials, and discharge of macerated wastes.Particulate polymers are identified as either lightweight (e.g., polypropylene andpolyethylene) or heavyweight (e.g., PET and PVC). Weight of the particulate dictates wherethey reside within the water column. The goal of this study was to quantify the abundanceand map the distribution of microplastics and nurdles, using long-term monitoringzooplankton samples from Lake Champlain. Microplastic sampling was conducted bysubsampling homogenized zooplankton samples (N=400) and were quantified usingextrapolation to larger sample volume. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) wasused to characterize nurdle polymer type as polyisoprene rubber ribbon. Nurdle distributionwas most abundant at 0-10m depth and at the southernmost end of Lake Champlain, in thevicinity of Whitehall and Ticonderoga, NY, historically associated with industry. Additionalnurdle hotspots occur in Shelburne and Missisquoi Bays located midway and at the northernreach of the lake. Microplastic abundance was greatest in the mid-section of the lake and atdepths of both 0-10m and 40-50m. Vertical particulate distribution is of greatest concern, assusceptible organisms are dispersed throughout the water column, with potential forbioaccumulation to higher tropic levels. Long-term microplastic impacts on Lake Champlaininclude intake for residential use, pathogenic and pollutant exposure during recreational use,as well as local economic impact via revenue loss associated with tourism and fisheries.
    • Timing of Peak Acorn Yield in Northern Red Oaks at Flatrock Forest in Relation to Small Mammals

      Garneau, Danielle; Straub, Jacob; Peterson, Marc; Ellsworth, Janet (2014)
      The pulsed, synchronous mass-production of seeds in tree species is a phenomenon called masting , which is an important event that occurs in forested ecosystems (Koenig and Knops 2005). Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) masting events, in northern hardwood forests, can provide abundant critical food sources for animals preparing to overwinter. Wildlife such as mice (Peromyscus spp.), squirrels (Sciurus spp.), black bear (Ursus americanus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can increase their survivability and fecundity during mast years (Koenig and Knops 2005, Lashley et al. 2009, Gillen and Hellgren 2013). The ecology of masting trees within an ecosystem is important to study as they have cascading effects (Otsfeld et al. 1996, Gillen and Hellgren 2013, Lobo and Millar 2013). During years when seed yield is below normal, the decline in food production can result in reduced granivore populations, but also increases the chances of germination during the next masting event (Schnurr et al. 2002). Increased germination results from a lag in functional response time among granivores, an effective predator satiation technique (Schnurr et al. 2002). Oaks are greatly valued by many species, including humans. They are selectively harvested for high quality timber. The dependence of wildlife for food and habitat, and the human desire for quality timber attests to the need to study oaks, acorn production, and the effects on wildlife.
    • Trophic transfer of microplastics in Phalacrocorax auritus (Double-Crested Cormorants) and fish in Lake Champlain

      Bullis, Kathleen; Stewart, James; Walrath, Joshua; Putnam, Alexandra; Hammer, Chad; VanBrocklin, Hope; Buska, Brandon; Clune, Alexis; Garneau, Danielle (2018)
      The goal of this research was to determine whether microplastics (MP) result in trophic transfer within invertebrates, fish, and Phalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorants) resident to Lake Champlain. We did so by quantifying and characterizing (e.g., fragment, fiber, film, foam, pellet) plastic particulate. Wet peroxide oxidation digests were performed on digestive tracts of 665 lake organisms, specifically invertebrates, 15 species of fish, Salvenlius namaycush (Lake Trout), Micropetrus salmoides (Largemouth Bass), Esox lucius (Northern Pike), Amia calva (Bowfin), Micropterus dolomieu (Smallmouth Bass), Salmo salar (Atlantic Salmon), Ameiurus nebulosus (Brown Bullhead Catfish), Perca flavescens (Yellow Perch), Archosargus probatocephalus (Sheepshead), Morone americana (White Perch), Lepomis macrochirus (Bluegill sunfish), Osmerus mordax (Rainbow Smelt), Cottus cognatus (Slimy Sculpin), Ambloplites rupestris (Rock Bass), Alosa pseudoharengus (Alewife), and Phalacrocorax auritis (Double-crested Cormorants). Our research indicated that fibers were the were the most common (80.1%) type of particulate found in all organisms, followed by fragments (9.64%), films (6.36%), foam (3.01%), and pellets (<1%). The fish species Amia calva (Bowfin) contained the greatest average number of plastic particulate (χ ̅= 29.67), followed by Salvelinus hamaycush (Lake Trout) (χ ̅= 22), and Esox Lucius (Northern Pike) (χ ̅= 18.42). Among digested fish, stomachs contained the greatest mean number of MPs (χ ̅= 5.84), followed by the esophagus (χ ̅= 5.48) and intestines (χ ̅=4.76). These findings illustrate trophic transfer in addition to direct consumption of MP’s in Lake Champlain organisms, as invertebrates, fish, and double-crested cormorants contained on average 0.615, 6.49, and 22.93 microplastic particles. Results from this research serve to inform residents of the Lake Champlain watershed, anglers, non-profit lake organizations, as well as public health and government officials of the risks microplastics pose to aquatic biota and ultimately humans.
    • 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.
    • Wildlife Response to Wildfire at the Altona Flat Rock Pine Barren in Northern NY

      Adams, Matthew; Staats, Lloyd; Garneau, Danielle; Lesser, Mark (2019-05)
      In July of 2018, approximately 221 hectares of forest were burned in a wildfire at a sandstone pavement barren in Altona NY. Forest overstory is predominantly Pinus banksiana (Jack Pine) and Betula lenta (Black Birch), whereas understory is comprised of ericaceous shrubs and Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken Fern). Within weeks of the burn, Jack Pine’s sertoninous cone seeds had germinated and regeneration of fern stolons and birch stump sprouts appeared. We sought to monitor wildlife in response to forest regeneration at the sandstone pavement barren burn as compared to a reference (unburned) site. For this study, eight game cameras were installed along transects traversing the burn intensity gradient. Game cameras were equally distributed across the burn and reference sites and remained unbaited. Diel wildlife activity was made possible using camTrap package in R Studio, which organizes image files according to metadata (e.g., time, temperature, species) and facilitates interpretation. Species recorded in the burn sites were, Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer), Canis latrans (Eastern Coyote), Leporidae (Rabbit family), Lynx rufus (Bobcat), Procyon lotor (Raccoon), and Pekania pennanti (Fisher). In addition to these species, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (Red Squirrel), Sciurus carolinensis (Gray Squirrel) and Bonasa umbellus (Ruffed Grouse) were observed in the reference but not the burn sites. In fall 2018, species richness was greater (n = 9) on the reference versus the burn sites (n = 6). In addition, there was greater wildlife abundance (n = 98) at the reference versus the burn sites (n = 44). Diel activity differed for some species between sites, in particular White-tailed Deer activity was crepuscular at the reference site, with activity peaks at both 8am and 6pm, as compared to a single longer duration morning activity bout on the burn. Biodiversity typically responds positively to wildfire in response to regeneration; however this was not observed in the first season following the disturbance. Continued monitoring of wildlife in response to wildfire may reveal differing patterns as the forest continues to succeed.