Poster Topic: Fisheries

Annie Hentschke and Ross Dames
Missouri Department of Conservation

Mark Twain Lake (MTL) is an 18,600-acre reservoir in Northeast Missouri that is popular for both resident and non-resident anglers. No length limit regulations currently exist for highly targeted crappie because crappie growth is often slow in this reservoir. However, population size structure might be improved with a minimum length limit without negatively impacting yield if exploitation is high. Exploitation is currently unknown. Our objective is to measure crappie exploitation, then use this information with existing estimates of growth and total mortality to simulate the potential impacts of a minimum length limit.  We began a two-year crappie exploitation study on MTL in spring 2019. Trap nets were dispersed evenly across the lake to capture and tag 1,000 crappie (at least 8 inches long) with $25 or $75 Carlin-dangler reward tags. As of October 2019, 214 tags have been returned from harvested crappie. Based on these tag returns, exploitation would be 22% after correcting for tag loss and tag non-reporting. This estimate is expected to increase slightly as the fish have not yet been at large for a full year. Tag retention (98 percent) and handling mortality (less than 2 percent) were estimated during a pond study in 2018. Another 1,000 crappie will be captured and tagged in spring 2020.

Joe McMullen
Missouri Department of Conservation

Commercially harvested blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus and flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris, were sampled from the Mississippi River, Missouri, USA, to compare age estimates derived from pectoral spines and lapilli otoliths. Ageing structures were processed using methods described by Buckmeier et al. (2002). Ages were estimated for each fish by three independent readers; disagreements were reconciled during a subsequent concert read. A scatter plot of pairwise comparisons of age estimates from otoliths and spine sections was generated to assess bias in age assignment (Campana et al. 1995). Differences in age estimates between structures was computed and plotted against total length to demonstrate direction of error in age estimates (Nash and Irwin 2000). Only 42 percent of ages from spine sections were in exact agreement with ages from otoliths but 88 percent were within one year of agreement.

Jim Baker, Rebecca O’Hearn
Missouri Department of Conservation, Aquatic Systems and Environmental Health Unit

In cooperation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Missouri Department of Conservation is charged with investigating fish kills throughout the state. In most cases, these kills can be attributed to natural causes, such as disease and extreme weather conditions. However, agriculture can also be a source of contamination and fish kills in Missouri. Despite oversight by DNR to prevent environmental impacts, improper farming practices and mechanical failures lead to negative effects on stream life. In April 2018, hog manure was released from an animal feeding operation lagoon directly into a stream, causing substantial damage to aquatic life. Standard protocol dictates that investigators provide a count of dead aquatic life for the impacted stream reach to calculate monetary damages. Monetary damages collected after a fish kill are used for aquatic restoration projects in Missouri. Unfortunately, degraded conditions caused by the pollutant prevented any possibility of an accurate count. In this case, investigators used an alternate means of calculating damages to collect reimbursement for the kill.

Hadley Boehm1, Andy Turner2, Craig Paukert1,3
1 Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO; 2Missouri Department of Conservation, Resource Science Division, West Plains, MO; 3 U.S. Geological Survey

Bull Shoals Lake is the last in a series of impoundments along the White River, located on the Missouri-Arkansas border. In 2013, the Missouri Department of Conservation began experimental stocking of Striped Bass in Bull Shoals Lake to sustain a low density, trophy Striped Bass fishery. One of the objectives of the project to evaluate that experimental stocking is to quantify seasonal and/or size/age based movement and dispersal patterns of Striped Bass to help fishery managers determine appropriate harvest regulations, inform stocking location and timing, and identify whether certain reservoir areas may be more used by Striped Bass. During spring 2019 we surgically implanted 75 adult Striped Bass with acoustic transmitters and released them into Bull Shoals Lake. We used a combination of manual tracking by boat and a passive array of acoustic receivers to monitor tagged fish dispersal. Preliminary results indicate at least a 40% stocking mortality of these tagged adults. Most tagged adults remained in the Theodosia arm where they were stocked, but one individual moved nearly 30 km by September. We deployed more passive receivers in the Theodosia arm in October, and implanted an additional 37 adults and 100 age-0 Striped Bass with transmitters that will be stocked and intensively tracked in November 2019. One of our initial objectives was to identify seasonal and size related post-stocking dispersal of these tagged Striped Bass, and how it will be used to inform the rest of the project and ultimately management decisions.

Alexandria Algiere, Katrina Knott, Jim Baker, and Rebecca O’Hearn
Missouri Department of Conservation, Resource Science Division, Environmental Health

Many hydropower projects impound rivers, creating reservoirs. Hydropower projects with deep release penstocks discharge anoxic water from thermally stratified reservoirs into receiving streams, resulting in potential harm to aquatic life. This study evaluated impacts to water quality in the Niangua River, the receiving stream of the Niangua Hydraulic Generating Station, during power generation. Dissolved oxygen (DO) content was measured at the generating station (powerhouse) and downstream of the powerhouse during periods of generation and non-generation and compared to DO content measured at an upstream reference site (overall mean DO level of 8.13 mg/L). Regardless of generation, DO levels were lowest at the hydropower facility’s powerhouse discharge bay (the study measured levels as low as 6.69 mg/L). When the facility was not generating, DO levels in areas downstream of the powerhouse returned to or exceeded upstream reference levels. During the period of generation, DO levels in areas downstream of the powerhouse never returned to upstream reference levels. These results, along with preliminary data, support the hypothesis that this hydropower project negatively impacts the natural aquatic system by lowering DO content necessary for organism survival in the receiving stream.

Jacob A. Gaskill1, Katrina Knott2, Rebecca O’Hearn2, Darby Niswonger2, Alba Argerich1, and Rebecca L. North1
1School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA; 2Resource Science Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, Missouri, USA

Toxin-producing cyanobacterial blooms are increasing in frequency and magnitude globally. Cyanotoxins readily form covalent bonds with proteins in tissues and can pass to higher trophic levels when those tissues are consumed and metabolized. While it is contested whether cyanotoxins biodilute or biomagnify through trophic transfers, they have frequently been detected in fish tissues. The relationship between cyanotoxin concentrations in water and fish tissues is not well understood and is often only examined at a single point in time. Here, we study this relationship over the course of a year between April, 2018 and March, 2019. We measured microcystin concentrations every two weeks in the water column of an agriculturally impacted reservoir that frequently experiences cyanobacterial algal blooms. Two recreationally valuable sportfish, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), were collected to assess the relationship between water column and fish tissue microcystin concentrations. We also looked for patterns in cyanotoxin concentrations in fish tissues across season, species, sex, and age (determined using sagittae otoliths). Microcystin was present in 74% of water samples examined. Water microcystin ranged from under the detection limit (<0.15 µg L-1), which occurred most frequently in winter and spring, to 1.03 µg L-1 in November, 2018. Our findings will improve our understanding of the health risks cyanotoxins pose to both fish and humans and will allow for the development of fish consumption advisories.

Mike Thomas1, William Morris1, Zachary Ford2, Andy Turner2, Jan Dean3, and Craig Paukert4
Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; School of Natural Resources1, Missouri Department of Conservation; Resource Science Division2, Dean Electrofishing, LLC 3, U.S. Geological Survey; Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; School of Natural Resources4

Electrofishing is commonly used to sample Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish, but catch rates are highly variable and there is a need to refine standard sampling methods for these species. We performed laboratory and field experiments to determine how species, fish size, waveform, and power settings affect electrofishing catchability. Laboratory trials recommended two waveforms (i.e., 15 Hz 30 dc and 8 Hz 10 dc) and species-specific power goals based on effective conductivity values. We sought to validate this research using known numbers (n=389 Blue Catfish; n=260 Flathead Catfish) and sizes (i.e., stock-preferred, preferred and larger) of catfish in ½ acre experimental ponds (n=13). We utilized UAV footage to determine the number of fish that surfaced for greater than three seconds (i.e., available for capture). We conducted 105 field trials and used zero inflated negative binomial regression to evaluate factors influencing electrofishing catchability. For both species, water temperature (β = -0.06, p < 0.05) and 35% reduced power settings (β = -0.44, p < 0.05) decreased catchability. For Blue Catfish, the 15 Hz 30 DC waveform (β = 1.13, p < 0.05) showed higher catchability (M=6.8, SD=11.5) than 8 Hz 10 DC waveform (M=0.8, SD=0.3). For Flathead Catfish, relative weight (β = 0.08, p < 0.05) increased catchability. Catfish managers may find our study methods useful for future research involving electrofishing and our results may assist in the development of standard electrofishing protocols for these species.

Jonathan Twyman; Sara Tripp
Missouri Department of Conservation

Silver carp are invasive aquatic species that are currently expanding their range up the Mississippi River. Lock and Dam 19 is a barrier that slows the northward progression of the nuisance species up the Mississippi River and is located in southeast Iowa. As the population of Silver Carp grows in the pools downstream of Lock and Dam 19 and reproduction and recruitment remain minimal in the pools above, it is important to understand as much about their movement patterns as possible. Using data compiled by the Missouri Department of Conservation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Geological Services and National Weather Service, an attempt will be made to establish a link between atmospheric pressure change and Silver Carp movement through Lock and Dam 19. Data from fish implanted with acoustic transmitters, and more specifically the time they moved through the lock and dam, will be compared to weather data from that time period. The weather data will be acquired from the closest weather station to Lock and Dam 19. The information gathered could be used in future efforts to prevent continued expansion of Silver Carp northward up the Mississippi River and could possibly be applied to other locations.

Russell G. Rhodes, 2 Barry C. Poulton, and 3 William R. Mabee
Missouri Department of Conservation

The limnephilid genus Glyphospsyche Banks occurs only in North America where it is represented by G. irroata Fabricius in the north and G. missouri Ross in the south.  To date, G. missouri is only known to exist at the type locality in Missouri (Maramec Spring and the receiving spring branch, both located in Maramec Spring Park owned and maintained by the James Foundation) and nowhere else.  This caddisfly is a critically imperiled Species of Conservation Concern with S1 state rank and G1 global rank, but a survey for it had not been conducted in 14 years.  On 15 November 2017, a team of Missouri Department of Conservation, U. S. Geological Survey, and James Foundation personnel surveyed the Maramec Spring Branch to determine if G. missouri persists there, to characterize larval habitat, and to provide insight into diet of the larvae.  Larvae were removed by hand from the spring branch, and digestive tract contents were examined from two larvae.  We reaffirmed G. missouri persists at the Maramec Spring Branch and documented the larvae inhabit crevices of algal and moss-covered cobble and small boulders in slow current velocity along the spring branch margins.  We also observed the larvae utilize fine gravel particles, slender sticks, shells of hydrobiid snails, and fragments of Batrachospermum filaments for case construction.  Dominant diet components of the larvae included the algal genera Ellerbeckia, Navicula, Vaucheria and Cocconeis, and leaf-parts and protonema of bryophytes.

Joe C. Gunn1, Leah K. Berkman2, Shannon Brewer3, James M. Long3, Andrew T. Taylor4, Lori S. Eggert1
1University of Missouri, Division of Biological Sciences, Columbia, MO 65211 2 Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO 65201 3 U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078 4 University of Central Oklahoma, Department of Biology, Edmond, OK 73034

High-throughput DNA sequencing has revolutionized conservation biology by providing efficient and cost-effective analyses of genome-wide diversity in non-model taxa. Thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) can be used to answer elusive questions about divergence, admixture, or local adaptation in fish and wildlife. We used a reduced-representation sequencing method (double digest RAD-seq) to genotype 127,428 SNPs for 95 individuals to examine evolutionary divergence and hybridization between the widespread Northern Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu dolomieu) and the narrowly-distributed Neosho Smallmouth Bass (M. d. velox) where their ranges naturally meet in the Central Interior Highlands (CIH). Because both are popular sportfish and often supplemented in their ranges, delineating the extent of genomic diversity attributable to the Neosho subspecies is crucial for guiding Smallmouth Bass management in the region. We sought to assess for both subspecies: 1) genomic differentiation using Spotted Bass as an outgroup; 2) extent, distribution, and timing of admixture; and 3) signatures of local adaptation. We found evidence for strong genomic differentiation and population structure despite admixture in the Neosho range. We identified multiple SNPs that are potentially under natural selection based on outlier FST analysis, and we found clear differentiation at these SNPs across both subspecies’ native ranges. Ultimately, we found unique evolutionary paths for the Smallmouth Bass subspecies and reveal previously unknown levels of genomic diversity in the CIH.

Joe Nash and Dr. Robert Pavlowsky
Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute (OEWRI) and Missouri State University

Fort Leonard Wood Military Reservation is located primarily in Pulaski County and is bounded on the east by the Big Piney River and west by the Roubidoux Creek. Both streams contain sensitive habitat and indicated decreasing trends in mussel numbers from 2004-2017 due to disconnectivity caused by barriers, sedimentation due to high magnitude flood events, and possible land use factors. The objectives of this study are to: 1) evaluate the locations and degree of reduced connectivity by barriers to fish migration; 2) assess the influence of excess sedimentation, bedload transport, and related habitat loss on mussel habitat degradation; 3) identify locations of runoff and sediment inputs from land use activities and drainage systems in relation to mussel beds and habitats; and 4) offer suggestions for improving physical habitat and other ecological factors to help promote mussel recovery. Historical changes to planform and bar areas were analyzed using aerial photograph collections from the 1990’s, 2007, and 2015. Areas where channel planform change or excess sedimentation occurred were individually inspected and classified as active reaches or disturbance zones. Field data collection included a canoe survey of both streams to assess sedimentation, bed and bank stability, large wood locations, and tributary inputs with special attention given to active channel areas. Relationships between known mussel sites and habitat classes will be described and causes for geomorphic habitat instability discussed including karst hydrology, sedimentation, and increased flooding.

Elaine Ewigman¹, Ethan Rutledge¹, Colby Gainer¹, Quinton Phelps¹, Kristen Bouska², and Andy Bartels³
Missouri State University¹, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center², Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources³

Introductions of fish species outside of their native range can have damaging effects on the biota presently occupying a given environment. One such example is the invasion of Silver Carp in the Upper Mississippi River system. Silver Carp are efficient invaders who share similar life history strategies as some of the native large-bodied planktivores. One species of concern specifically in the Upper Mississippi River are Gizzard Shad. Negative impacts of Silver Carp on Gizzard Shad have been observed. Competition between these two species leads to an overlap in habitat use and forage. In the face of this invasion, understanding habitat requirements during key life stages of this species is needed to help guide management and restoration efforts. As such, the objective of this study was to identify the habitat needs of Gizzard Shad in the Upper Mississippi River. We evaluated Gizzard Shad habitat use via electrofishing conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Long-Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element. Management efforts that focus on the preservation of key habitat requirements of Gizzard Shad, should help to sustain Gizzard Shad populations in the face of further Silver Carp invasion.

Tabitha Gatts1, Jessica Wilson2 and Alba Argerich3
1University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, tggn4t@mail.missouri.edu 2University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, argericha@missouri.edu 3University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, wilsonjess@mail.missouri.edu

Lone Elm is a heavy metal contaminated urban stream located in Joplin, MO, within the Tri-State mining district. This stream is separated into upstream and downstream portions by a mine adit discharging elevated levels of lead, zinc, cadmium, and iron into the downstream stretch. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of habitat heterogeneity on macroinvertebrate abundance. To this end, we have examined the magnitude, spatial, and temporal variability of water depth and velocity. We also determined heavy-metal concentrations in surface water, and vegetation cover upstream and downstream of the mine adit.  Samples were taken bi-weekly during the summer and fall of 2019. Our results show that lower macroinvertebrate abundance coincides with higher dissolved iron concentrations, stream bed compaction, and variable in-channel vegetation cover in the downstream reach.

Sabine Miller, Alba Argerich, and Jessica Wilson
University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Urbana, Illinois

The city of Joplin, Missouri was once an epicenter for lead and zinc mining within the Tri-State Mining District. Abandoned mine shafts (adits) pose a threat to surface water quality as ground water draining from these adits contains dissolved heavy metals and other pollutants. This discharge is known to impair essential stream functions and can threaten human health. The health of streams polluted by mine discharge can be assessed by studying bioindicators such as benthic algae because its short lifespan and sensitivity can quickly indicate changes in environmental conditions. However, not many studies have been conducted on benthic algae in a stream affected by mining pollution. This study aims to determine the influence of mine drainage on the algal community by analyzing algal samples for chlorophyll a and biomass at sites upstream and downstream of a mine adit.

Colby Gainer, Ethan Rutledge, Hae Kim, Quinton Phelps, Kristen Bouska, Andrew Bartels
Missouri State University

Fish populations are influenced by vital rates (i.e., recruitment, growth, and mortality). Environmental perturbations (e.g., flow alteration) can lead to changes in vital rates over time. Thus, understanding vital rates of fishes is imperative for understanding environmental changes over time. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Long Term Resources Monitoring (LTRM) element collects data across the Upper Mississippi River through 6 field stations. The LTRM fisheries component provides a unique opportunity to investigate vital rates across a broad longitudinal gradient and over time. We selected six systemic fishes that are commonly encountered throughout the Upper Mississippi River basin. Fish will be collected from 2018 to 2021 using standardized collection methods for the LTRM program. This allows us to understand broader patterns in the Upper Mississippi River fish community. We will extract otoliths from all fish that will subsequently be sectioned for viewing. We will garner age data from the otolith. Age data is used to quantify vital rates. These rates provide a benchmark for managers and a reference point for tracking environmental changes to the Upper Mississippi River. Further, this will allow managers to better understand the impacts to the Upper Mississippi River.

Brandon Brooke1, Michael Moore1, Craig Paukert1, 2
1 Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, The School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri 2 U.S. Geological Survey, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, The School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri

Lake Sturgeon populations are recovering in Missouri. Each spring, many Lake Sturgeon ascend the Osage River past a low head dam (hereafter “L&D#1”) at river mile 12. A better understanding of conditions that permit and cue Lake Sturgeon passage of L&D#1 may facilitate spawning. Here we ask, 1) What discharge conditions permit Lake Sturgeon passage of L&D#1? 2) Given passable river levels, what conditions (temperature and flow pulses) cue passage events? and 3) How many days annually from 1939 to 2019 had high passage probabilities based on historic temperature and discharge records? We tracked Lake Sturgeon (N=93) with acoustic telemetry from spring 2018 – spring 2019, observing 46 passage events. We model upstream passage probability using logistic regression from March 1st to June 15th.  Low water in 2018 prevented dam passage for much of the spring, whereas, in 2019 Missouri River flooding made the dam passable for most of the study period. Therefore, we used the 2018 data to model discharges that would permit passage and spring 2019 data to model environmental conditions that cue passage. In 2018, the top passage model contained the combined discharge of the Missouri and Osage rivers. The minimum combined discharge for a passage event was 2,758 cms. For 2019, the top cue model included water temperature, with passage probability peaking at 9.1°C. Retrospective application of our models revealed annual variation in passage days. Our results can inform spring flow management to promote spawning habitat access for migratory fish in the Osage River.

Garrett Frandson, Brett Landwer, Alba Argerich
University of Missouri, Dept of Conservation

Aquatic macroinvertebrates, crucial components of stream food webs and important linkages between aquatic and terrestrial systems, are commonly used as indicators of environmental conditions. In stream ecosystems, macroinvertebrate community structure is shaped by key physical conditions including discharge, temperature, and substrate. Dams normally impose substantial disruptions to all three of these conditions, making it difficult to separate the effects of just discharge, temperature, or substrate on macroinvertebrates. At the lower Taum Sauk Reservoir on Missouri’s East Fork Black River, however, downstream patterns of discharge and water temperature closely follow those upstream and only substrate conditions dramatically differ between upstream and downstream. Here we examine macroinvertebrate community structure along 3800m of river from heavily armored to near-reference substrate conditions. Particular attention is given to insects with particularly close relationships with substrate conditions, including sand-cased caddisflies (order Trichoptera) and burrowing mayflies (order Ephemeroptera). Preliminary results indicate caddisflies exhibit enhanced sensitivity to substrate conditions among the taxa found in the East Fork and that the prominence of the most-encountered genus, Ceraclea (family Leptoceridae) may additionally be related to the presence of freshwater sponges within the river. Substrate augmentation projects are aimed at providing physical conditions necessary for hosting desired macroinvertebrate and/or fish communities. Understanding the relationship between substrate composition and macroinvertebrate community structure will aid in informing the composition, quantity, location, and timing of future augmentation projects.

Rebecca O’Hearn1, Katrina Knott1, Jim Baker1, Doug Novinger1, Matt Combes2; Brad Harris3, Kristi Savage-Clark3, Eric Gramlich3, Tim Reilly3
1Aquatic Systems and Environmental Health Unit, Missouri Department of Conservation; 2Agricultural Research Field Station, Missouri Department of Conservation; 3Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The year 2019 marked the 80th anniversary of Missouri’s Fish Kill and Pollution Investigation Program.  The formalized program was initiated in 1939 by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to tackle the significant pollution problems in Missouri at the time. The goals of the program are to protect aquatic resources and to maintain high-quality fishing and recreational opportunities through pollution abatement and mitigation, and to increase awareness of water pollution and aquatic life mortality through reporting of events.  Staff in the program played an important role in the enactment of Missouri’s first water quality laws and formation of a pollution control agency.  The MDC Fish Kill and Pollution Investigation Program works in collaboration with the Missouri Department of natural Resources, the state’s pollution control agency, to investigate, mitigate, and enforce water pollution incidents negatively effecting aquatic life.  This partnership has resulted in a significant decline in fish kills and pollution incidents in Missouri waters.

Jean Fehr
Missouri State University

Pearson Creek is on the state’s 303d list of impaired waters due to high concentrations of E. coli bacteria.  The stream is a tributary of the James River located in east Springfield in Greene County, Missouri.  The watershed (59.2 km²) has mixed land uses ranging from high density urban development to pastureland for livestock.  A three phased assessment was completed to evaluate bacteria sources to the main channel of Pearson Creek. First, a wastewater exfiltration assessment was conducted along 10 km of the main channel to help isolate sources during base flow conditions.  Results of this assessment found two locations with consistently high concentrations of E. Coli.  Second, a bacteria source tracking study was performed to try to isolate human and bovine markers as the source of impairment.  Results were variable, as bovine and human sources were not consistent over a two-week period suggesting source are not consistent temporally.  Several samples were negative for both human and bovine markers suggesting another source of bacteria may be contaminating the stream.  Finally, bi-weekly bacteria monitoring over the last two years at the USGS gaging station has helped to better understand seasonal variability and obtain valuable information to calibrate water quality models. The results of these studies will support watershed planning and source reduction efforts.

Kayla Coonen, Marc Owen, and Dr. Robert Pavlowsky
Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute, Missouri State University

Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is the leading source of water-quality impacts to surface water in the United Sates. This study aims to develop a NPS model for sediment and nutrients using USEPA’s Spreadsheet Tool for Estimating Pollutant Loads (STEPL) for Mineral Fork (491 km2) and Mill Creek (133 km2) watersheds in Washington County, Missouri. These watersheds offer a challenge because the drainage network was disturbed by historical barite mining with pits, ponds, and tailings dams. This research reports on the methods and spatial analysis of bank erosion rates to provide input data to support NPS modeling. Historical aerial photographs from 1995 to 2015 are compared to identify bank erosion and deposition trends over 20 years by digitizing the active channel. LiDAR is used to develop cross-sections along disturbed areas to determine bank height. In order to reduce suspended sediment loads, it is important to identify the land use and land cover contributions such as anthropogenic activities that could impact pollution influences like bank erosion. Sediment budgets determine the sediment input and storage to estimate fluxes of sediment. About 163.8 km2 of Mineral Fork and Mill Creek’s drainage area is trapped behind tailings dams, reducing the sediment load by 16% in Mineral Fork and 28% in Mill Creek. With an average bulk density of 1.34 Mg/m3, the estimated sediment yield produced is 23 Mg/km2/yr in Mineral Fork and 39 Mg/km2/yr in Mill Creek. Of that sediment yield, 30% is from streambank erosion in Mineral Fork and 54% in Mill Creek.

Ethan Rutledge¹, Colby Gainer¹, Hae Kim¹, Quinton Phelps¹, Kristen Bouska², and Andy Bartels³
Missouri State University¹, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center², Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources³

Fish populations are driven by the dynamic rate functions (i.e., recruitment, growth, and mortality). Knowledge of these vital rates can provide critical information to determine spatiotemporal population-level changes in the system. Anthropogenic modifications to the environment have had damaging effects on the organisms within these ecosystems. Specific to Upper Mississippi River fishes, channelization, dams, and loss of floodplain connectivity have all been purported as deleterious. Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus are an important indicator species that may provide insight on the broader fish community (e.g., “canary in a coal mine”). As such, the objective of this study is to determine the habitat use and population demographics of Bluegill in the Upper Mississippi River system. Knowledge of vital rates and habitat needs will provide a baseline for managers as a reference to future changes in the river. Bluegill were collected via electrofishing conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Long-Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element. Habitat data was collected during electrofishing events conducted at three field sites in the Upper Mississippi River from 1993-2017. Fish used for vital rate analysis were collected at five field sites via electrofishing in the Upper Mississippi River. The information garnered in this study can be used to help direct management efforts that not only favor Bluegill, but also other fishes in the Upper Mississippi River.

Sabrina Lator, Justin Westover, Lynda Miller
College of the Ozarks

Sierra Casagrand, Robert Pavlowsky, Marc Owen
Missouri State University

Watershed disturbances caused by land clearing and agricultural settlement during the early 1800s changed the hydrology and geomorphology of stream systems in the Midwestern USA. However, little is known about the impact of early human activities on stream systems in the Missouri Ozarks where early settlement patterns were influenced by poorer soils, forest resources, and rugged terrain. This study reports on the analysis of General Land Office (GLO) surveys completed in the 1820’s to assess the pre-settlement landscape of the Big Barren Creek watershed in the Doniphan-Eleven Point District of Mark Twain National Forest in the Ozarks Highlands of southeast Missouri. The area was heavily logged for pine and oak between 1880 and 1920 and today is being managed for both pine forest restoration and cyclical tree harvesting. Early surveyors marked stream locations and often described channel form and riparian substrate and vegetation characteristics along mapped section lines. Surveyor locations and distances from the notes were geo-rectified using GIS analysis and topography from high resolution LiDAR imagery. After information from the early notes has been mapped, the stream locations described will be revisited and compared to present conditions. Preliminary results show increased channel widths compared to those measured for the GLO surveys. The information from this study can be used to understand how post-settlement land disturbances have affected modern stream channel form and riparian ecology in the forest lands of Southeast Missouri.

1Mott, L, 1Poulton, Barry C., 1Kroboth, P, 1Chapman, D, 1George, A., 2McMurray, S., 2Faiman, S.
1U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 2Missouri Department of Conservation, Conservation Research Center

Black Carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus) were imported in the 1980s from eastern Asia to Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to control disease-carrying snails in aquaculture ponds. Black carp escaped from these facilities and have spread throughout the lower Mississippi River basin. This invasive molluscivore typically consumes bivalves and gastropods which are often crushed with their molariform pharyngeal teeth as they are ingested. During 2017, we examined 109 gastrointestinal tract samples from black carp captured by commercial fishers to inventory diet items and help understand their feeding ecology. As a continuation of this effort, we examined an additional 221 black carp caught during 2018-2019. From these diet samples, we identified 63 aquatic animal taxa (27 mollusks, 30 insects, 6 other invertebrates) and organic matter components (detritus, nuts, seeds). Approximately 59% of samples were empty or only contained intestinal flukes. Snails (13.6%), bivalves (21.3%), and aquatic midges (12.7%) had the highest incidence in non-empty stomachs. Examination of 2018-2019 fish identified six additional unionid mussel species consumed by black carp, including two Missouri Species of Conservation Concern. Taxa accumulation curves showed diet richness in black carp steadily increased over time as more samples were examined from newly captured fish, indicating opportunistic feeding. Results demonstrate black carp are not obligate molluscivores and consume a diverse diet, although fish and odonates were absent from samples. An increased number of documented mollusk taxa in the diet highlights the potential threat of this invasive species on imperiled unionid mussels in the Mississippi River basin.

Michael Ferguson
Missouri State University

The Big River was contaminated by lead-zinc mine tailings released from historical concentration mills in in the Old Lead Belt District in Southeast Missouri. It is estimated that 144 million Mg of contaminated sediment is stored in floodplains and 13 million Mg in the channel. In 2015, The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers began remediation efforts using engineered structures to trap contaminated sediment in both channel and adjacent floodplain areas for removal by dredging. The primary purpose of this study is to review the progress being made at the Big River Lead Remediation Site (BRLRS) near Bonne Terre to (i) understand the effectiveness of these structures in removing contaminated sediment and (ii) evaluate the structural integrity of the structures and their effects on natural channel form and sediment transport. Several findings will be reviewed. First, a significant volume of contaminated sediment occurs in the coarse “chat” sized fraction between 2 mm to 16 mm in diameter. Second, both channel and floodplain basin areas have been successfully dredged, removing over 10,000 Mg of contaminated sediment. Third, channel bed and banks and basin structures are adjusting by erosion and deposition to channel modifications and a period of frequent flooding. Finally, a new sedimentation area has developed in the channel due to channel widening which may provide another borrow site to remove mining-contaminated sediments. Monitoring of the effectiveness of these remediation sites is important since more will need to be installed to significantly reduce contaminated sediment volumes in Big River.

Seth Owens1, Michael Moore1, Craig Paukert2
1 Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, The School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 2 U.S. Geological Survey, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, The School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri

Mid-sized rivers are a bridge between great river and wadeable streams, providing habitat for over 200 species of Missouri fishes. However, no two mid-sized rivers are identical. Habitat forming processes act upon geology and topography to produce unique characteristics. Advancements in habitat mapping capabilities allow ecologists to examine continuous fluvial habitats to identify human alterations to natural habitat gradients. We mapped habitats using side scan sonar in the lower Osage and Gasconade rivers to: 1: Compare habitat conditions between the adjacent Osage and the Gasconade rivers? 2: Investigate longitudinal gradients in habitat conditions. We record longitudinal transects covering the channel width for 75 miles of the Osage River and 22 miles of the Gasconade River. We imported georeferenced sonar files into ArcMap raster mosaics using SonarTrx software and digitized relevant habitat features including substrate patches, training structures, tributary confluences, and woody debris. We created bathymetric maps using ordinary kriging from depth measurements along sonar tracks. Both Ozark rivers have gravel-dominated bedloads, however, the lower 10 miles unimpounded Gasconade River had a lower a higher percentage of fine substrates than the larger and heavily engineered Osage River. Habitat gradients in both rivers were especially prominent 2-3 miles from their confluence with the Missouri River where backwater effects produce deep pools with abundant fine sediment. We did not detect longitudinal patterns of woody debris accumulation. Our results can inform habitat management for big river fish that use the lower portions of mid-sized rivers such as Lake Sturgeon, Paddlefish, and Blue Suckers.

Poster Topic: Forestry

Saaruj Khadka , Hong S. He, and Azad Henareh Khalyani
University of Missouri

White oak (Quercus alba L.) mortality has been reported from pre-settlement to the present day in the US. In Missouri, white oak mortality has increased in the past few decades. The mortality varied among a wide range of sites and forest conditions, making pining down the exact causes challenging. This study proposes a comprehensive geospatial analysis framework that focuses on exploring white oak decline in Missouri. We use historic and current Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data across a wide geographical region and examine on the number of growing stock and standing dead trees. We interpret by inventory year for white oak trees. We will assemble a range of abiotic (climatic, soil, terrain, and geology) and biotic (species composition, stand structure, disturbance history) variables that may affect white oak and use non-parametric classification tree approach to quantify their potential impacts on white oak decline. The preliminary results show that white oak mortality was greatly reported in the study area as the year progress. Our results provide scientific bases to inform landowners, foresters, and managers for sustainable white oak management.

  1. Alexander Wait
    Department of Biology, Missouri State University

The Ozark region has long been recognized as an ecologically distinct area of North America, with a variable deciduous woodland matrix community comprised of oak and hickory species. However, it not clear how current and future management of these woodlands will maximize the ecological services they provide. The purpose of this research is to scale ecological measurements across a cm2 to km2 gradient to provide a context for management into the future. I have compiled 20 years of ecological data between 1999 and 2019 in three woodland units managed for wildlife in southwest Missouri (Drury-Mincy Conservation Area). “Control/degraded-woodland” units have not been burned since 1950, “Recently Burned” woodland units have been burned on a two to four-year rotation since 1999, and “Continuously Burned” woodland/glade units have been burned on a two to four-year rotation since 1980. Data include overstory leaf production, leaf decomposition and soil respiration rates, and soil temperature/moisture across the woodlands. PhenoCam images from November 2014 to present, along with five other oak/hickory woodlands in the region, provide macro-scale responses to precipitation and temperature. Precipitation and temperature account for less than 50% of the variation in over story production and decomposition. PhenoCam data provide good estimates of growing season, but do not increase prediction probabilities of production and decomposition. Accounting for micro-scale measurements increases predictability by 20-30%. The data highlight how adaptive management of public lands that relies on micro and macro scale measurements, and that compliments management on private lands, will maximize ecological function into the future.

Isaac Hayford1, Benjamin Knapp1, Megan Buchanan2
1 School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 2Missouri Department of Conservation, West Plains, MO 65775

In bottomland forests, managing for oak species in competition with less desirable, fast-growing, and shade-tolerant species is challenging. Low understory light levels tend to favor more shade-tolerant tree species. Without active management, this can eliminate slow-growing oaks and other hard-mast species from the regeneration layer, potentially leading to long-term losses in habitat quality, timber value, and tree diversity. Foresters managing bottomland forests are often uncertain about silvicultural approaches that can improve stand quality and species composition. In the late 1990s, a study was installed at Deer Ridge Conservation Area in Lewis County, MO to evaluate effects of harvests (uncut control (CON), basal area retention (BAR; canopy retention of 20 to 30 ft2/acre), and clearcut with reserves (CCR; canopy retention of up to 10 ft2/acre)) on stand development of bottomland forests, with particular interest in oak regeneration. Canopy removal resulted in rapid growth of undesirable soft-mast species without increasing the abundance of oak regeneration. The current study seeks to determine the effects of subsequent release treatments on the growth of pin oak and swamp white oak regeneration. This study uses a completely randomized split-plot design, with main-plot treatments being the original harvests (CON, BAR, CCR), and the split-plot treatments including an untreated control and two levels of release treatment (10 ft and 15 ft radius around oaks). The base diameter and height of each seedling was measured at planting in March 2017 and subsequently in 2018 and 2019. Results from this research will help develop silvicultural protocols for regenerating desirable species in bottomland forests.

Stewart McCollum, Kara Powelson, Michael Goerndt, William McClain, Melissa Bledsoe, Toby Dogwiler
Missouri State University

Silvopasture is an integrated agroforestry practice that combines a forest crop, a forage crop, and livestock. This project is located at Missouri State University’s Journagan ranch property in Douglas County of South Central Missouri. Two types of silvopasture will be established: 1) two varieties of black walnut (football and sparrow) will be planted into an established pasture and 2) an existing oak/hickory hardwood forest will be thinned and a forage will be established. Measurements of the black walnut seedlings will be taken throughout the first growing season at Journagan ranch to monitor the height and diameter growth. We will then be able to see if there is a correlation in growth rates between the two varieties. The thinned stands will be monitored using an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) equipped with a multispectral sensor. This will allow us to assess the health and growth of the trees and forage overtime. The goal of this study is to provide helpful information regarding the economics and benefits of managing silvopasture lands as opposed to traditional forest clearing for pasture, which is the common practice in the Ozarks region. To achieve this goal, the specific objective is to build capacity for long term research and comparative analyses of different silvopasture types, ranging from uniform plantations to converted natural stands.

Raelin Kronenberg & Sarah Lovell
University of Missouri, The Center for Agroforestry

Agroforestry practices offer an ecologically-based model for agricultural production. Despite the many potential benefits including reduced erosion, nutrient runoff, increased diversity, and income stability, many farmers are hesitant to incorporate trees into their farming practices. Federal policies that provide incentives for farmers to adopt conservation practices offer an avenue to improved land stewardship. Current policies including the Conservation Reserve Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program have had some success in protecting vulnerable lands, but many farmers are reluctant to participate due to strict enrollment and land use requirements. Incorporating woody species that produce harvestable products into established conservation practices, such as riparian buffers and windbreaks, may offer greater opportunities for farmers to adopt these systems. To better determine why farmers are hesitant to engage in perennial agriculture, we need to consider their level of familiarity with agroforestry practices, along with their attitudes and understanding of these systems. A proven way to determine farmer perceptions of agricultural practices is by using a survey. To develop a comprehensive questionnaire, we will interview natural resource professionals to identify the key topic areas and specific questions of interest to explore in the survey. The farmer survey responses to questions about integrating perennial species that provide both harvestable products and conservation benefits will allow the development of education, outreach, and policy targeted specifically to their needs. The broader goal of this project is to help promote the spread of perennial multispecies cropping systems in Missouri and other states for both agricultural production and conservation.

Dacoda Maddox (a,b) Ben Knapp (b), Lauren Pile (a), John Kabrick (a), Dan Dey (a), Chris Newbold (c)
aNorthern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Columbia, MO bSchool of Natural Resource, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO cMissouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO

Managers across the central US are interested in restoring once abundant ecosystems such as savannas and woodlands. Often these restorations are inundated with challenges like nonnative invasive plants and creating the appropriate native structure and composition. This project will evaluate methods to 1) reintroduce woody structure to a restored prairie to create a savanna, and 2) establish native woodland ground flora in a recently thinned mature oak stand. As savannas require frequent fire for maintenance, savanna restoration in an existing prairie may require protecting newly planted tree seedlings. Restoring mature oak forests to a woodland community may require active seeding of woodland ground flora and seedbed manipulation due to a depauperate seedbank and low potential for desired species to colonize the site. To establish savanna trees, we used weed cloth and mowing treatments in a fully randomized design. We planted 900 Quercus seedlings of five species grown by two nursery production methods [containerized root production method (RPM) or bareroot]. To establish ground flora in structurally restored woodlands, we seeded a diverse mix of species that have various light tolerances on plots of varying overstory tree density where the litter was either raked or not. We present first year mortality rates of the planted trees in the restored savanna, and the initial inventory of ground flora in the degraded woodland that was present before treatment implementation. The results of this study will help managers throughout the central US determine best practices for restoring structure and diversity to restore savannas and woodlands

Poster Topic: Natural Resources

Justin Westover, Sabrina Lator, Lynda Miller
College of the Ozarks

Tom Aley1,2, Cathy Aley1,2 and David Ashley2,3
1Ozark Underground Laboratory, 2Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation, 3Missouri Western State University

Staff of The Ozark Underground Laboratory have participated as environmental consultants in karst topography for more than 60 years.  Tumbling Creek Cave is located near Protem, MO at the site of the OUL.  Tumbling Creek Cave is a registered National Natural Landmark and contains the highest biodiversity of any North American cave west of the Mississippi River.  Tumbling Creek Cave has been a major feature in karst educational programs provided by OUL.  The not-for-profit Tumbling Creek Cave Foundation was formed in 2009 to partner in efforts to conserve and manage Tumbling Creek Cave and to continue educational outreach related to karst regions.  This presentation will describe the facilities and surface features at the site and overview conservation, management, and educational activities of the OUL.

Poster Topic: Water

John Kincaid1, OWERI2, Dr. Babur Mirza1
Department of Biology1, Department of Geology2, Missouri State University

The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die every year due to waterborne diseases, and about ten percent of the world population is exposed to contaminated drinking water. Although many that are afflicted by these burdens are in developing countries, there are still cases of diseases in developed countries like the United States. Testing for the source of the contamination, along with pathogens, in water systems can be costly and impractical for everyday use. Microbial source tracking is a method that was developed previously to assess the quantity of contamination coming from an organism but has many limitations (e.g. only testing one source of contamination). Next generation sequencing is an emerging technology that shows promise in testing water samples for a plethora of bacteria using the 16S rRNA gene. However, little research has investigated if this method of testing water samples accurately depicts the abundance of the microbes, as compared to traditional methods of water testing. This project utilizes three different methods of testing fecal contaminates: IDEXX quanti-tray E. coli/coliforms testing, qPCR, and Next-generation sequencing. Water samples were taken from 5 points along the Little Sac watershed and 4 along Pearson creek, in Greene and Polk counties. The relative abundance of the bacteria from the first two methods will be compared to the sequencing result, and similarities in bacterial quantities between the methods will be compared, and presence of various human pathogens assessed. Next-generation sequencing could provide a greater scope of bacterial contamination and their sources.

Hannah Whaley, Dr. La Toya Kissoon-Charles
Missouri State University

Spring-fed ponds are a common feature in the Ozarks with unique characteristics such as cooler waters which influences their inhabitants. Many of these ponds are shallow and have a small surface area, which can contribute to their high productivity and often eutrophic conditions. Plants that are adapted to cooler waters or can tolerate eutrophic conditions are well suited to spring-fed ponds. We conducted seasonal vegetation surveys at a spring-fed pond near Diamond, Missouri to determine what species were present and how their abundance and frequency changed throughout the year. During these surveys, we collected physical and chemical data to determine relationships with the plant community. We predicted that plants tolerant of eutrophic conditions would dominate throughout the year and other plants would follow more specific seasonal patterns. Preliminary data indicated that all aquatic plants found in the pond follow seasonal patterns of abundance, with peaks during different times of the year depending on the species. We also plan to survey aquatic vegetation in similar spring-fed ponds in the Ozarks to compare plant community composition and chemical and physical pond characteristics.

Shoukat Ahmed, Prof. Robert Pavlowsky, Marc Owen
Missouri State University

Hydraulic models can be used to analyze channel response to flooding that is important for water quality, sediment supply, and bank erosion.  In this study, HEC-RAS hydraulic software will be used to compare channel response to flood flows in both a natural and channelized section of Big Barren Creek in the southeastern Missouri Ozarks.  Big Barren Creek (191 km2) is a tributary of the Current River and is 92% forested, with around 78% being National forest lands.  The majority of the remainder is pasture and hay, along with small areas of developed open space.  Two-channel types of been identified along the main channel of Big Barren Creek.  The first is a natural, stable, multi-threaded channel that is relatively shallow with trees and low brush adding roughness to dissipate and spread out the flow.  The second is a channelized, unstable, single-threaded channel that is relatively wide and deep that concentrates flow velocity.  This analysis will focus on a 3.6 km reach of Big Barren Creek that has both natural and the channelized stream types.  Here, flow velocity, channel shear stress, and critical shear stress will be computed for flood discharge values with return intervals ranging from 2-100 years estimated from regional regression equations.  The results of this analysis will be compared to three years of continuous discharge monitoring data to quantify bed sediment mobility and recent geomorphic change in the stream reach.  Overall, this information is important to advance the understanding of how Ozarks streams respond to recent regional increases in high-intensity rainfall and flooding.

Tyler Pursley, Marc Owen, Kayla Coonen, Triston Rice
Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute, Missouri State University

The Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute (OEWRI) at Missouri State University is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement watershed-scale assessment and planning in high priority agricultural watersheds around the state. The purpose of this assessment is to provide information on areas within a watershed that have the highest pollution potential and identify the most beneficial conservation practices for improving and protecting water resources. The objectives are to (1) complete an inventory of all existing data in the watersheds related to geology, soils, hydrology, climate and land use; (2) perform an assessment of watershed resources and analyze gathered data including identification of nonpoint source pollutants, water quality impairments, rainfall-runoff characteristics, and a field-based stream bank conditions assessment; (3) provide NRCS staff with information of resource concerns, lead factors contributing to water quality impairment, and recommended conservation practice for the most water quality benefit. There is a total of 12 priority agriculture watersheds targeted for this assessment.  Water quality is modeled using the Spreadsheet Tool for Estimating Pollutant Loads (STEPL) to calculate existing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment loads.  Load reductions were also estimated based on typical accepted conservation practices identified by local area staff specific to each watershed.  To enhance the model output, streambank erosion was estimated using aerial photo interpretation and available LiDAR datasets.  Additionally, a riparian corridor assessment was also conducted using aerial photography to identify vulnerable areas along the major streams.  Finally, visual stream assessment surveys were also used to help field verify the riparian corridor and streambank stability assessments.  Ultimately the Missouri Agricultural Watershed Assessment program will provide a comprehensive analysis of the selected watersheds and specific recommendations of target locations for the implementation of conservation practices for the NRCS.

Daniel Obrecht, Alba Argerich, Rebecca North
University of Missouri

Lamar Lake, located in Barton County Missouri, is a drinking water supply impaired by elevated nutrients. Long-term surface water phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations are 84 µg/L and 1138 µg/L, respectively. These values are 40% higher than regional averages for other reservoirs located in the Osage Plains of Missouri. The reservoir’s Total Maximum Daily Load document lists agricultural runoff as the source of nutrients. Lamar Lake’s watershed is mostly grassland (54%), with row crop making up 22% of the drainage. Predicted phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations for Lamar Lake, based on models that include watershed crop coverage, are lower than long-term means. Other potential sources of nutrients that might explain higher than expected surface water concentrations include internal loading of phosphorus and nitrogen from the reservoir’s sediments and ground water inputs used to maintain water levels. Monitoring of water quality in Lamar Lake was expanded during 2018 and 2019 to provide a better understanding of in-reservoir nutrients, which will benefit lake management. Deep-water samples collected during summer 2018 contained total phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations that were 5-times higher than surface values. Water temperature data collected near the dam indicate the water column did not completely mix until late September 2018. There were, however, periods during the summer when surface waters cooled and mixed with waters that were previously isolated from the surface layer. At one point in August, mixing to within a meter of the bottom. Water samples collected from the groundwater input contained phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations that were near zero.

Poster Topic: Wildlife

Amy Hammesfahr1, Christine Rega-Brodsky1, Kathryn Womack-Bulliner2, & James Whitney1
1Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas; 2Missouri Department of Conservation

Tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) populations in southeastern Missouri have declined since the introduction of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in 2012. Prior to WNS introduction, little research focused on the roosting ecology of tricolored bats in Missouri.  Our research objective is to address this deficiency by identifying maternity day roosts through radio-telemetry of females; however, attempts to radio-tag and capture tricolored bats during our pilot season in 2018 were unsuccessful.  We hypothesized that incorporating an acoustic lure during mist net surveys may increase mist net captures of tricolored bats, allowing us to tag more females.  In our modified study during 2019, we mist netted at 14 sites across Shannon, Carter, and Reynolds counties twice, with and without the acoustic lure to measure its effectiveness.  We supplemented our mist net surveys with acoustic detectors to account for tricolored bats responding to the lure, although not captured.  We captured two tricolored bats with the lure and none without the lure.  Our acoustic survey results are undergoing analysis.  We anticipate expanding our research into a second year to try and increase our sample size. WNS-suspectable species such as tricolored bats are rare and difficult to capture, and a lack of captures should not conclude that the species is extirpated from an area.  Instead, additional tools should be explored and integrated into mist net surveys, such as acoustic detectors and lures.  Maximizing survey effort with multiple survey tools is a holistic and necessary approach for documenting WNS-susceptible species.

Carlee Steppe1, Lauren S. Pile2, Benjamin O. Knapp1, and Chris Newbold3
1School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 2Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Columbia, MO 3Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO

Originally native to Asia, sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) was introduced for erosion control, pasture improvement and wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, this nitrogen-fixing legume has become a noxious weed throughout the central and southern US. Control of this species has proven difficult and expensive due to its high seed production, proclivity for disturbance and ability to persist into the soil seed bank. Management practices including herbicides have traditionally been used to control its spread. Prairie Fork Conservation Area (PFCA) consists primarily of reconstructed prairie habitats where sericea has become invasive and has been managed by herbicide practices including spot treatments for a number of years. The objective of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of herbicide on controlling sericea abundance within prairies of varying reconstruction ages at PFCA. Each spring and fall, the coverage and abundance of sericea is recorded across 98 (25 m2) paired plots representing a control (herbicide) and a treatment (herbicide excluded) at PFCA and 20 plots at Tucker Prairie, a nearby remnant prairie community. We hypothesize little effect of ceasing herbicide on the abundance of sericea in the first year but that invasion will increase in untreated plots in following years. Additionally, we predict that resistance to invasion, as a measure of a change in sericea coverage, density, and biomass, will differ in relation to prairie reconstruction age and functional diversity and dominance. The results of this study will provide direct information for land managers at PFCA and throughout the central US for the control of sericea.

Cryptic or uncommon herpetofauna are often understudied due to the extensive effort it requires to obtain adequate data for statistical analysis. Additionally, potential impacts from forest management on these already small or difficult to study populations may have a dissimilar effect in comparison to more common species. To address this, we examined species-specific responses of less common herpetofauna within the Missouri Ozarks to even-aged and uneven-aged silvicultural systems at multiple scales, as well as their habitat associations. Using capture histories collected over 23 years (1992-2014) on the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) we examined the cumulative effects of two harvest entries (1996 and 2011) at both the local- (stand-level) and landscape-scale (compartment-level) for eight uncommon amphibian and reptile species. We modeled capture probabilities with respect to multiple habitat- and harvest-related covariates.  Three species showed compartment-level declines in the post-treatment period, however only two of the declines appeared to be related to forest management; the decline for the third species was observed in both treatment and control compartments suggesting that the cause was environmental.   In contrast to compartment-level responses, we observed stand-level responses in five species, mostly positive.  In general, our observed declines were minimal and currently we have no concerns that forest management will lead to the loss of any of the less common herpetofauna species considered here.  Our models showed habitat associations for multiple species, which aids our understanding of species’ life history strategies and can also guide future management efforts.

Chayata Thammarat, Mistina Wheeler, and Mark Mills
Department of Biology, Missouri Western State University

Turtles are common residents of urban environments, living in semi-aquatic habitats as predators and prey. Since 2008, we have marked and recaptured about 220 turtles of both native and nonnative species from nine ponds on the 740-acre campus of Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO, USA. Numbers of marked turtles per pond ranged from 6 to 58. The native species included Apalone spinifera, Chelydra serpentina, Chrysemys picta bellii, Trachemys scripta elegans, and Graptemys pseudogeographica, whereas nonnative species caught were T. scripta scripta and C. picta marginata. We recorded the size of turtles, sex and age if possible, wind speed, air and water temperature, humidity, and water clarity. Each pond varied in depth and hydrology. Several ponds dried and refilled during the study, and we documented turtles reoccupying the ponds shortly after they refilled. There was high pond fidelity with several turtles captured multiple times in the same pond for over 10 years (e.g. one slider has been captured 30 times in the same pond since 2009). However, 30 turtles moved between campus ponds by crossing roads and potentially parking lots, traveling straight-line distances from 133-890 meters.  We documented one turtle moving from an off-campus pond to a campus pond approximately 1500 meters away.

Henry Priest¹, Colton McKivitz², Coty Prunest², Hae Kim¹, Colby Gainer¹, Ethan Rutledge¹, Quinton Phelps¹
Missouri State University¹, West Virginia University²

Turtle bycatch is common in large-river catfish sampling (e.g., hoopnets and trotlines). Biologists commonly use Zote® soap as bait in tandem hoop-nets to sample Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus. Previous studies have suggested that Zote® soap is effective in reducing aquatic turtle-bycatch. However, few studies have evaluated aquatic turtle bycatch on Zote® soap baited trotlines. Further, no studies have evaluated the effectiveness of different Zote® soap colors. Trotlines were set overnight on the Monongahela River. Each line consisted of twenty 2/0 O’Shaughnessy hooks. Each hook was baited with a piece of Zote® soap approximately the size of a nickel. To eliminate color bias, each hook was randomly assigned a specific Zote® soap color. We evaluated pink, white, and blue Zote® soap. Sampling sites were randomly selected among large-river macrohabitat features (i.e., main channel, inlet, and backwaters) on the Monongahela River. Zote® soap was effective in capturing a wide range of Channel Catfish. Further, we did not catch any aquatic turtles. An analysis of variance suggested differences in catch-rates among different color Zote® soaps. Zote® soap is a simple and effective trotline bait for Channel Catfish in large rivers. Additionally, Zote® soap may be useful in preventing aquatic turtle bycatch on trotlines

As we have progressed through time, conservation has been an afterthought of the farming community. However, with societal changes, consumers are now demanding food be produced in conjunction, not competition with conservation. This presents livestock farmers with challenges and opportunities to work on water quality, wildlife and sustainability. There are many negative stigmas surrounding livestock farmers, but the largest are the disregard for water quality and wildlife habitat. This intensifies if livestock farmers are near urban areas or located on bodies of water. Livestock farmers can address the negative stigma and improve water quality, wildlife habitat and livestock management by working with multiple agencies. On our 1100 acre farm, we have fenced out over four miles of creek frontage, implemented rotational grazing systems, fenced livestock out of woods, completed stream bank stabilization and much more during the past ten years. While this seems daunting, this is a process to be worked through, not against. This not only improves the wellbeing of our stock, but the wellbeing of society. If we do not work together, livestock farmers will lose the support of society, and with that the loss of diversity.

Steffanie Abel, Rebecca O’Hearn, James Baker
Missouri Department of Conservation, Aquatic Systems and Environmental Health Unit

According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, it is illegal to cause or allow any deleterious substance to be placed, run, or drained into any waters of the state in quantities sufficient to injure, stupefy, or kill fish or other wildlife which may inhabit such waters. Because of this mandate, the Missouri Department of Conservation manages a Fish Kill & Pollution Program and has maintained it since 1939. The 2019 Fish Kill and Pollution review categorizes incidents into regulated causes (municipal, agricultural, industrial, transportation, and other), non-regulated causes (natural and non-point source), and unknown causes, as well as provides examples of exceptional kills or pollution events for each respective category.

Evelyn Snead, Daniel A. Marschalek
University of Central Missouri

Decomposers are an important part of the food web and can be used to determine how a particular ecosystem is functioning. Insects play an important role in decomposition, responsible for nutrient recycling and maintaining soil fertility, which is required to support vegetation communities. We compared species richness and abundance of the insect communities associated with decomposition in both prairie and woodland habitats. Insects were collected using 2-gallon pitfall traps, baited with a dead rat, over a six-day period. Trapping occurred at Friendly Prairie Conservation Area, Drovers Prairie Conservation Area, Paint Brush Prairie Conservation Area, Mora Conservation Area, Knob Noster State Park, and Pertle Springs (Warrensburg, MO). Three of the four prairie sites had similar insect communities, while all three wooded areas were more similar to one another than to the prairie sites. Interestingly, Mora Conservation Area, the fourth prairie site which has row crops, had an insect community that is intermediate to those of the prairie and woodland sites. The primary reason for the differences between sites was that beetles (Silphidae, Histeridae) were more common at prairie sites and flies (Calliphoridae) were more common at woodland sites. These preliminary results suggest that decomposer insects can be used as an indicator of prairie habitat quality.

Courtney Nicks, Wes Buchheit, Len Gilmore, Wesley Hanks, and Josh Marshall
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever in Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and Missouri Landowners have joined in a collaborative effort to improve Missouri’s landscape by managing more acres with prescribed fire. Through this partnership Missouri’s first Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) were formed. Now, with over 100 active participants at five separate locations, we are sharing a success story that has improved management on thousands of Missouri acres. Here you will find how PBAs work, what they have accomplished, and how landowners are supported in their efforts.

Wesley A. Hanks, Donnamarie H. Duffin, and Casey L. Bergthold
Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever

Missourians for Monarchs is a collaborative of citizens, non-governmental and government agencies, utilities, and agribusinesses committed to monarch and pollinator conservation. They have a goal of creating 155,870 hectares of additional pollinator habitat, with an average of 494 milkweed stems per hectare, by 2036. As of July 2019, the Collaborative had reported creating 129,555 hectares of pollinator habitat but has not evaluated the milkweed density on these acres. To determine if habitat created meets the average milkweed density threshold the Collaborative launched monitoring efforts utilizing the integrated monarch monitoring protocols developed by the Monarch Joint Venture. Using this method, Quail Forever Biologist surveyed 6 study sites on private land planted between 2014 and 2017 to seed mixes that benefit monarchs and pollinators. Cost-share and technical assistance was provided on these projects by various Federal, State, and private entities. At each site two 200-meter and one 100-meter transects, spaced 25 meters apart and running parallel of each other, were sampled. One-hundred one-meter square quadrats were systematically placed along each transect. In each sub-plot all blooming plants were recorded, and stems of blooming milkweed were counted. A meandering survey within the one-hectare plot was used to capture any flowering plant species that were not sampled within subplots. Across all six sites surveyed between July 15th and July 31st 12 of the 600 subplots contained blooming milkweed ranging 0 – 5 subplots per study site. During the three-month (July-September) sampling period six species of blooming milkweeds and 93 species of flowering plants were documented.

Katherine Ward
Missouri Department of Conservation

White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal disease first detected in Missouri in 2010, has significantly contributed to large population declines among cave-hibernating bat species. The Missouri Department of Conservation uses a combination of techniques to foster healthy and sustainable forest and woodland communities including prescribed thinning and burning. While forest management benefits bats by maintaining open areas for foraging and promoting solar exposure of roost trees, it can also have negative short-term impacts, especially during the summer months. The Systematic Bat Survey was, therefore, designed to avoid and minimize any negative impacts of forest management activities to maternity colonies of target species as well as to allow management to better meet the needs of species where they are found. Mist-net surveys were conducted during the summer maternity season at six Department conservation areas in northern Missouri over a three-year period.  A total of 632 bats representing 9 species were captured over 500 mist-net nights. Thirty-nine Myotis sodalis were captured in 2017, 9 in 2018, and 8 in 2019, whereas 5 Myotis septentrionalis were captured in 2017, 1 in 2018, and 0 in 2019. M. sodalis and M. septentrionalis radio telemetry results and roosting preferences are discussed. Notably, a M. sodalis maternity colony was discovered roosting in cracks and crevices in snags with little or no bark on a lake. Wildlife managers can use this information and approach to evaluate bat population trends in the post-WNS Midwestern landscapes to design and implement appropriate conservation strategies.

Gloria Williams, Justin Hinson, James Allen, Robin Verble
Missouri University of Science and Technology

This survey evaluated nocturnal Lepidoptera abundance and species richness at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. We focused our efforts on searching for the presence of the rattlesnake master borer moth (Papaipema eryngii, Noctuidae). The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is currently assessing rattlesnake master borer moth for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act. Host plant, rattlesnake master, Eryngium yuccifolium, surveys were performed from June to October of 2019. Moth surveys were performed with blacklight and UV bucket traps near areas with rattlesnake master plants and other target area from July to October 2019. Moths were spread, pinned, and preserved at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri. Insect by-catch was oven-dried for 48 hours, then weighed. Insect biomass, moth abundance, and moth diversity were compared among sites and across seasons. Species composition data is being compiled for sites, seasons, and habitat types. Data analysis is ongoing.

Robert. Bremer, Caitlin Glore, Marissa. Gruetze, Jackie Herron, Jason Kusilek, Jeremy Reynolds, Samuel Weber, Cary D. Chevalier
Department of Biology, Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, MO 64507 USA

In 2014 we began a Canada goose (Branta canadensis) population monitoring and management project in the campus of Missouri Western State University.  The restoration of Canada Goose in NW Missouri has not only been successful over the years, but that in some areas, like on our campus, goose populations were reaching levels where they were becoming nuisances.  Geese were increasingly nesting near or buildings, and by frequently traveled walkways.  Nesting geese would often harass people walking by, defecating with increased frequency near building entrances and on sidewalks, thereby creating health hazards as well as general mess.  Our objective was to determine how many nesting sites there were and map their distribution on campus.  We began a population recruitment control program to help keep our goose population at a level where they would be considered a treasure rather than a nuisance.  During the spring nesting season, we surveyed the entire 650+ acre campus.  We used mapping GPS systems and GIS to map nest locations and monitor nest site activity.  We counted and oiled all known eggs with corn oil and/or spiked eggs, then we documented hatching success.  In 2014 – 2019 we recorded the locations of 10, 12, 12, 16, 14, and 16 nests, respectively.  After treatment, broods observed from known nests were 5, 2, 0, 0, 1 0 for years 2014 – 2019, respectively. The goose reproductive success on campus for these six years was reduced by 50% our second year of effort, then by 100% thereafter for known nests.

Little Niangua River Accomplishments and Monitoring Operational Team
Missouri Department of Conservation

The goal of the Little Niangua River Priority Geography is to restore, enhance, and maintain an Ozark stream and surrounding watershed to improve habitat for a wide range of fish and wildlife while establishing a model of comprehensive conservation. One way we are evaluating our progress towards this goal is by monitoring focal bird species– a subset of birds highly associated with specific habitats. Changes in selected focal species can indicate shifts in habitat composition. Since 2014, we have monitored 11 common and 1 rare focal bird species during the breeding season at 9 sites on public and private land. Here we describe the results of our monitoring to date as well as the advantages and limitations of using a focal bird species protocol to evaluate progress towards conservation goals.

Cara Yocom-Russell and R. Verble
Department of Biological Sciences, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Companies market predator urines as a deterrent in human-wildlife conflicts. Using camera traps is an effective technique to assess the presence of species on the Ozark Biological Research Station. The Ozark Biological Research Station is a 10-acre natural area bordered by Bohigian Conservation Area, an approximately 400-acre conservation area in the Mill Creek watershed, in south-central Missouri. Camera traps have been used in many studies to record data with minimal human disturbance. In Fall 2019, eight bait stations were placed across the research station. A bait station consisted of one game camera and one 2000-gram bait pan filled with protein baits (cat chow). Each bait station was deployed for 21 trap nights (163 total trap nights). The trap nights were divided up into 3 sessions of 7 nights each (Days 1-7, Days 8-14, Days 15-21). For Days 1-7 and Days 15-21 the bait piles were unchanged. During Days 8-14, a scent tag soaked with coyote urine was added to each trap site. During daylight hours, each day, bait piles were weighed and refreshed. Camera traps were assessed for battery power and card storage daily. At the end of the trapping season, over 150,000 photos were analyzed and change in activity level was recorded.