• 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.