Author Topic: Ted Nichols July 2014 Report to NJ Fish & Game Council  (Read 2308 times)

Meadowmucker

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Ted Nichols July 2014 Report to NJ Fish & Game Council
« on: August 21, 2014, 04:06:51 PM »
WATERFOWL - STUDY PLAN IV

Ted Nichols, Principal Biologist

Migratory Game Bird Monitoring Programs (Job IV-A)

Preseason Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Goose Banding
Preparations for preseason Canada goose banding were begun including scheduling, mailings to WCC Volunteers, scouting excursions, banding location contacts and equipment maintenance.  Several cooperators including Forsythe, Cape May/Supawna, Wallkill River, and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuges as well as several county park agencies also provide much of the needed manpower to accomplish this project.  Banding began on June 23 and will be completed by July 3.  A goal of 1,300 geese will be banded which represents about 1.5% of the state’s resident population. The banded sample will consist of approximately two-thirds adult geese and one-third goslings. These statewide banding goals, distributed by age cohort, are outlined in the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Goose Management Plan. Unit personnel also began preparing for preseason duck banding.

Preseason Mourning Dove Banding
In 2003, a nationwide mourning dove banding program was initiated to estimate harvest rates and to aid in developing Lincoln population size estimates. Traditionally, states without dove hunting seasons have not participated in dove banding programs.  In the late 2000s, the Eastern Management Unit of the Dove Technical Committee urged dove no-hunt states (NJ, NY, CT, MA, VT, ME, NH, MI), through a recommendation passed through the appropriate flyway councils, to participate to make the banding program truly national in scope.  As a result, New Jersey implemented a preseason banding program from 2009-2013.  The state’s annual banding quota was 75 adult and 75 juvenile doves.   

Mourning doves were banded from 1 July to 31 August each year.  A total of 1,607 doves were banded during the course of the 5 years at 23 unique banding stations.  The banding quotas of 75 adults and 75 juveniles were met each year.

A total of 31 band recoveries were reported to the Bird Banding Lab.  29 recoveries occurred in New Jersey including 21 recaptures, 2 found dead, 2 killed in predation events by domestic animals, 3 killed by striking fixed objects (e.g.: wires/towers), and 1 shot in a wildlife control operation at Atlantic City International Airport.  All but one of the New Jersey recoveries was in the same or adjacent 10-minute block of banding.  One dove banded at Great Swamp NWR was recaptured the following year 70 km south at Assunpink WMA.  Only 2 doves (banded at Great Swamp NWR and Trout Brook WMA) were shot during the hunting season, both in South Carolina as indirect recoveries one year following banding. 

Only 0.12% of doves banded in New Jersey were shot during the hunting season despite that banding quotas were met each year and doves were banded in a reasonably representative distribution across the state.  As such, it appears that New Jersey doves contribute little to harvest outside the state and that recaptures are inadequate to calculate any meaningful survival rates. 

Waterfowl Ecology and Management (Job IV-B)

Impacts of Resident Population Canada Geese on Wild Rice
The manuscripts below were published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin during June. 

Nichols, T.C. 2014.  Integrated damage management program reduces grazing of wild rice by Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada geese in New Jersey. Wildlife Society Bulletin 38(2):229–236.

ABSTRACT Tidal freshwater marshes of the Maurice River, New Jersey, USA, have been long renowned for robust stands of wild rice (Zizania aquatica). During the 1990s, these marshes experienced an apparent decline in wild rice. During 2000–2002, I used paired fenced exclosures and open control plots to measure herbivory by the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) on wild rice and response of rice to an integrated damage management program (IDMP). The IDMP consisted of rendering goose nests unhatchable, shooting, and culling molting geese. The IDMP reduced the number of goslings by 60% during the first year and essentially eliminated recruitment during the second year. Prior to the IDMP, grazing by geese reduced the density of rice by 78% and the height of plants surviving grazing by 17%. With implementation of an IDMP, rice density between exclosures and control plots did not differ. Wetland managers should consider the grazing impacts that resident population Canada geese can incur on native plant communities and develop a plan for mitigating that damage.

Nichols, T.C. 2014.  Ten years of Resident Canada goose damage management in a New Jersey tidal freshwater wetland.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 38(2):221–228.

ABSTRACT  Intensive grazing by Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada geese (Branta canadensis) has been shown to dramatically reduce wild rice (Zizania aquatica) abundance in tidal freshwater marshes in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. From 2001 to 2010, I implemented an integrated damage management program (IDMP) during spring to abate Canada goose herbivory to wild rice in tidal freshwater marshes of the Maurice River, New Jersey, USA. The IDMP consisted of shooting, rendering goose nests unhatchable, and euthanizing molting geese. With implementation of an IDMP, the number of nests on the study area declined 70% over 10 years and the number of geese declined over time. Consequently, the amount of IDMP effort needed to sustain rice was reduced. Because the study area was a key nesting site for ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), which are state-threatened species, there was concern that disturbance from IDMP activities could have a negative impact on osprey nesting or recruitment. The mean annual number of nesting ospreys doubled and the mean number of young fledged/nest was similar between years prior to and during implementation of the IDMP, suggesting that the IDMP did not have a negative impact on ospreys. Wetland managers should consider damage from excessive herbivory caused by non-native, breeding waterfowl, such as resident Canada geese or mute swans (Cygnus olor), in their suite of wetland mitigation strategies.

Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Goose Model
T. Nichols commented on, and rewrote portions of, a manuscript entitled: “Survival of Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Geese” to address comments from the Associate Editor and reviewers of the Wildlife Society Bulletin.  University of Delaware Postdoc Julie Beston is lead author.  Coauthors include Nichols, Paul Castelli (Retired, NJDFW; now at Forsythe NWR) and Chris Williams (UD).

Nesting Ecology of Atlantic Flyway Resident Population Canada Goose in New Jersey
The manuscript below was recently published in the Journal Wildlife Biology. Former University of Delaware (UD) graduate student Kate Guerena was lead author.  Coauthors include Paul Castelli (Retired, NJDFW; now at Forsythe NWR), Nichols, and Guerena’s advisor and faculty, Chris Williams (UD).

Guerena, K.B., P.M. Castelli, T.C. Nichols and C.K. Williams.  2014.  Spatially-explicit land use effects on nesting of Atlantic Flyway resident Canada geese in New Jersey.  Wildlife Biology 20(2):115-121.

ABSTRACT: Atlantic Flyway resident population (AFRP) Canada geese Branta canadensis in New Jersey, USA, have grown dramatically during the last thirty years and are considered as overabundant in many areas. Development of corporate parks and urban areas with manicured lawns and artificial ponds offer ideal nesting habitat for AFRP geese, with limited pressure from hunting or natural predators. As a result, spatial heterogeneity in reproduction must be taken into account in managing the population. We identified the site and landscape spatial scale extents at which land use features influenced nest site selection and nest success. Nest searches were conducted throughout the State during 2009–2010, and 309 nests were monitored through hatch to determine their fates. We ran a spatial correlation analysis of land use composition to identify spatial scale extents at which geese most considerably respond to their environment for nest site selection and nest success.  All significant spatial scale extents were at or below 2.25 km for the five classified land use types. We emphasize that habitat-goose associations in densely urban areas were strongest at extents 􀀌 1 km, while rural and natural areas were strongest at extents 􀀎 1 km. Geese responded to human-dominated land uses at a smaller spatial scale extent than land uses with low human density. The strength of all nest-land use univariate relationships was low; however, our primary objective was to identify the scales extent at which geese associate with land use, rather than the intensity. We encourage managers to consider these scale-dependent associations in identifying important habitat variables in multivariate models; and if population control of AFRP Canada geese is of primary interest, then focusing on local habitat management will most likely have the largest influence in managing this population.

Atlantic Flyway Council Technical Section   (Job IV-C) 

T. Nichols commented on, and rewrote portions of, the Atlantic Flyway Mute Swan Management Plan.  This plan was written in 2003 and is being updated with a target finish during 2015.

T. Nichols participated in an exercise which ranked the importance of 55 projects currently being considered by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture based on the following criteria: Benefit to Multiple Species, Immediacy of Need, and Within Category Priority (Biological Planning, Conservation Design, Monitoring, and Research).

T. Nichols reviewed, commented on, and rewrote portions of the Arctic Goose Joint Venture narratives for Atlantic brant and greater snow geese.

Extension Services/Other

Tuckahoe WMA NAWCA Grant
T. Nichols gave Ducks Unlimited Bernie Marczyk (Director of Conservation Programs) and Jim Feaga (new Regional Biologist, NJ-PA) a tour of the area. 

2014-15 Migratory Bird Season Dates
T. Nichols reviewed 2014-15 migratory bird hunting season dates that were presented to the Fish and Game Council at their April meeting.  Tentative dates were decided by Council at their June Council meeting and posted on the Division’s web page.

NJ Waterfowl Stamp Committee
T. Nichols spent considerable time trying to reconcile WSC fund balances in preparation for the July WSC meeting.

Tuckahoe WMA Outbuilding
A new outbuilding to store Waterfowl Program and Land Management equipment and supplies was recently completed.  Considerable time was spent building shelves, workbenches and making other improvements and moving supplies from the 1930s era building to the new building.

Regards
John

Sunderaey

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Re: Ted Nichols July 2014 Report to NJ Fish & Game Council
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 05:32:14 AM »
I believe in my post. It can be a real treat.