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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, January 16, 2014

Departmental/Bureau News - Current

Paper Notes Importance of Disturbances in Preserving Biodiversity: USGS NWRC scientist Beth Middleton wrote an article that was published in in the Environmental Law Institute’s November/December 2013 issue of the National Wetlands Newsletter. The brief, “Continents Apart in Vegetation Management,” underscores the importance of disturbances in preserving biodiversity. It also contrasts vegetation management practices around the globe and throughout time. This information is used by managers, practitioners and legal professionals to help understand the significance of management actions such as cutting, grazing, and fire in preserving biological diversity and species richness in natural areas. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La; 337-266-8618)

Study Investigates Amphibian Habitat Occupancy: In the December 2013 Online Early edition, the journal Wetlands published a USGS study, Wetland Reserve Program Enhances Site Occupancy and Species Richness in Assemblages of Anuran Amphibians in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, USA. The paper describes differences found among amphibian communities located in cultivated cropland, on Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) lands, and in natural bottomland hardwood forest. Automatic audio recorders were used to record frog vocalizations at a number of field sites in the Mississippi alluvial valley of Arkansas and Louisiana. Researchers found that site level species richness (number of species per site) was highest in bottomland hardwood forest, lowest at row crop sites, and intermediate at WRP sites. Nine out of 11 amphibian species detected in this study were significantly more likely to occur at WRP sites than at cultivated crop sites. This study indicates that WRP sites may represent transitional habitats between cultivated and forested lands. Authors were Susan Walls of the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center, Hardin Waddle of the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, and Stephen Faulkner of the USGS Leetown Science Center. (Hardin Waddle; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8671)

Workgroup Seeks Answers to Amphibian Decline Drivers: USGS NWRC Ecologist Hardin Waddle participated in a workshop at the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis during the week of January 6, in Fort Collins, Colorado. The group is using hierarchical spatial models in an effort to determine the mechanisms underlying amphibian declines in North America. Amphibian populations are declining globally at unprecedented rates, but statistically rigorous identification of mechanisms is lacking. This research aims to assemble data to answer questions about the broad-scale drivers. Hypotheses and methods developed through this collaboration will be useful in other locations experiencing amphibian declines (e.g., Australia, Europe) and the modeling approach will be useful for assessing other taxa. (Hardin Waddle; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8671)

Group Discusses Management of Buttonland Swamp’s Water and Vegetation: USGS NWRC ecologist Beth Middleton met, via conference call on January 10, with the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP) Conservation Opportunity Area Coordinator and colleagues from The Nature Conservancy and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to discuss water and vegetation management of Buttonland Swamp in southern Illinois. The IWAP is the guiding document for managing the State’s fish and wildlife and identifies eight main areas of action including priority habitats known as “campaigns” and high priority areas referred to as Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs). Located within the Cache River watershed, Buttonland Swamp is a striking example of high quality wetlands which once were prominent in the Cache River Valley. It includes bald cypress and tupelo with trees more than 1,000 years old. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8618)

Ecologist Visits FWS Study Site on Cypress Creek NWR: USGS NWRC scientist Beth Middleton met with Mike Brown and Elizabeth Jones of the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Ullin, Illinois, on December 14. The site visit included a tour of sediment elevation tables at Deer Pond and Snake Hole, discussions on measuring sedimentation in this river system, and plans for future research. The refuge provides valuable habitat for a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. It is also part of a larger 60,000 acre boundary delineated by the Cache River Wetlands Joint Venture Project. (Beth Middleton; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8618)

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