Two BCQWC students presented research at the Midwest FW Conference in Lincoln, NE. Jennifer Smith (MS) gave a talk on the performance of SCR models for black bears in Michigan's lower peninsula. Sydney Manning (undergraduate) presented her work on evaluating turkey harvest management models. Sydney was also recognized during the plenary session as a finalist for the Janice Lee Fenske Memorial Award.
Current field work being conducted by Jennifer Smith is evaluating detectability of black bears by hair snares. As part of the work Jennifer and one of our undergraduate researchers, Steve Gurney, are collecting video footage of bear behavior around the snares. Check out this video series showing a bear accessing bait hung higher than he can initially reach.
The Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center, along with the Quantitative Fisheries Center and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), recently hosted a structured decision making (SDM) workshop in East Lansing, MI to inform future directions of wild turkey management in Michigan. This was the second in a sequence of four workshops aimed at integrating management stakeholders, agency biologists, and university researchers into the process of jointly identifying turkey management objectives and potential management options, as well as using advanced statistical modeling to understand spatial-temporal dynamics of turkey populations and predict likely outcomes of management decisions. This highly collaborative project involves a team of modelers and facilitators from Michigan State University, managers and researchers from DNR, and representatives from stakeholder groups, including: Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, Michigan Audubon, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Natural Resources Commission, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature Conservancy of Michigan, and the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
Ms. Sonja Christensen is the 2016 recipient of the Graduate Student of the Year Award for the North Central Section of The Wildlife Society! Sonja was cited for her “absolute passion for wildlife disease ecology and [work] at the highest levels of science,“ while at the same time demonstrating “unusual ability to relate to people at many different levels and leadership abilities to work with teams of volunteers on complex projects.” Further, she was recognized for her leadership “as the coordinator for the National Fish and Wildlife Health Steering Committee, as well as a member of the executive board for both Michigan chapter of The Wildlife Society and the Wildlife Disease Association chapter which she helped to form.”
The Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center (BCQWC) and the Quantitative Fisheries Center (QFC) at Michigan State University (MSU) partnered to organize and sponsor a special topic symposium at the recent Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. Bryan Stevens (BCQWC), Dr. Renee Riley (QFC), and Dr. David Williams (BCQWC) organized the symposium, which drew more than 100 attendees. One of the ways we accomplish the mission of the BCQWC is by bringing together experts in quantitative methods within a forum that promotes the use and application of those methods for conservation. The Midwest FW Conference was an especially appropriate venue as it brought together many current and future conservation leaders: regional agency personnel, faculty, and students.
A highlight of the symposium was our keynote speaker, Dr. Ken Newman from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. Newman is a world-renowned expert in the development and use of state-space models for fish and wildlife management applications. Special thanks to the Quantitative Fisheries Center and the Boone and Crockett Quantitative Wildlife Center for funding Dr. Newman’s participation in this symposium.
State-space models represent a synthetic framework for statistical applications in fisheries and wildlife that link dynamic models of ecological systems with observation models for describing sampling processes. Such models are a special class of hierarchical model where data are time-series observations, and partially observed population states are dependent through time in a Markovian fashion. As such, state-space frameworks facilitate a more formal merging of hypotheses and models from theoretical and empirical ecology, as well as direct fitting of dynamic ecological models to real data from fish and wildlife populations. Despite the conceptual advantages of these tools they have not received widespread adoption into graduate curriculum and professional training courses, and thus many researchers and students are not familiar with the framework and its potential use in applied research. Our objectives were to: 1) provide a general introduction to state-space models and their applications for fish and wildlife scientists, 2) describe case studies using state-space methods to model fish and wildlife populations, and 3) summarize existing barriers and likely future directions for learning and implementing state-space approaches in applied fisheries and wildlife research. This symposium began with a formal keynote talk to introduce the topic and conceptual framework, followed by multiple example applications using state-space methods to model fish and wildlife population dynamics, and concluded with a panel discussion of future directions and barriers to implementation of state-space methods in applied fisheries and wildlife research.
Special thanks to our invited speakers:
Download symposium schedule/abstracts