FWCB Students Awarded Scholarships

At this year’s Warner College of Natural Resources Scholarship Dinner, over $100,000 in scholarships were awarded to FWCB students. This amount exceeds totals from the past five years and is indicative of the constant focus and determination of FWCB students. Congratulations to the 2014 scholarship recipients!

WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Leah Bean

Leah Bean, recipient of The Donald G. Lauridson Memorial Scholarship, is a freshman. Her ultimate career goal is to conduct field research with large mammals.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Kristin Botzet

Kristin Botzet, recipient of The Philip A. Connolly Memorial Scholarship, is a junior.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Scott Boyle

Scott Boyle, recipient of The Donald G. Lauridson Memorial Scholarship, is a freshman. His ultimate career goal is to become a wildlife biologist with the federal government studying ungulates.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Brian Brost

Brian Brost, recipient of The Jack and Retha Grieb Memorial Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. He is studying harbor seal ecology in the Gulf of Alaska by pairing existing data with contemporary spatio-temporal models to address unresolved questions.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Frances Buderman

Frances Buderman, recipient of The Robert L. Tate Fellowship in Wildlife Habitat Conservation, is a Ph.D. candidate. She is studying the movement and spatial ecology of large carnivores in Colorado, specifically mountain lions and Canada lynx.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Nick Dannemiller

Nick Dannemiller, recipient of The Derey-Riley Wildlife Scholarship, is a junior. His ultimate career goal is to become a wildlife veterinarian.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Cat de Vlaming

Cat de Vlaming, recipient of The Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society Memorial Scholarship, is a junior. One of her career goals is to work in fisheries conservation, potentially in estuarine habitats.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Jeremy Dertien

Jeremy Dertien, recipient of The Eugene Decker Fellowship, is a M.S. student. He is studying habitat occupancy of Dall sheep and other mammals within a U.S. Army base in central Alaska.

WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Adam Dillon

Adam Dillon, recipient of The Hokenstrom Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. He is studying fox populations on Santa Cruz Island by monitoring their health and growth.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Breanna Dodge

Breanna Dodge, recipient of The Scott Conway Memorial Scholarship, is a senior. Her ultimate career goal is to teach about the environment through hands-on learning experiences.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Meghan Edwards

Meghan Edwards, recipient of The Warner College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Scholarship, is a sophomore. Her long-term career goal is to work in animal care and research at a zoo or animal rehabilitation center.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Michael Gallegos

Michael Gallegos, recipient of The Thomas A. Shepherd Diversity Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, he hopes to work with Colorado Parks & Wildlife as a wildlife biologist.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Reina Isabel Galvan

Reina Isabel Galvan, recipient of The William B. Fay Scholarship, is a junior. After graduation, she hopes to work with a government agency as a wildlife biologist.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Shifra Goldenberg

Shifra Goldenberg, recipient of The Jack and Retha Grieb Memorial Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. She is studying the effects of poaching on the behavior and demography of African elephants in Kenya.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Ashley Hagenloh

Ashley Hagenloh, recipient of The William D. Hatfield Jr. Memorial Scholarship, is a sophomore. Her ultimate goal is to merge wildlife biology and veterinary medicine into a career.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Lauren Hargis

Lauren Hargis, recipient of The Gregory L. (Greg) Bonham Memorial Scholarship, is a M.S. student. She is studying the effects of contaminants on stream insects and the consequential impact this has on riparian food webs.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Shane Hautanen

Shane Hautanen, recipient of The Stephen Tracy Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, he would like to work to sustainably manage and conserve salmon populations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Lauren Heck

Lauren Heck, recipient of The Natt N. Dodge Scholarship, is a senior. She hopes to research and enact methods that will prevent the decline of threatened and endangered species, as well as assist with endangered species reintroduction.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Adam Herdrich

Adam Herdrich, recipient of The Cutthroat Chapter – Trout Unlimited Memorial Research Fellowship, is a M.S. student. He is studying the effects of large, in-stream woody debris on eastern slope Rocky Mountain trout populations.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Matthew Hopken

Matthew Hopken, recipient of The Jack and Retha Grieb Memorial Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. He is studying the insects that transmit deadly viruses to wildlife and livestock by utilizing genetic tools to understand their ecology and evolution.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson, recipient of The Robert J. Behnke Rocky Mountain Flycasters Research Fellowship, is a M.S. student. He is studying predator/prey dynamics in Buffalo Bill Reservoir after an illegal introduction of Walleye.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Vincent Landau

Vincent Landau, recipient of The Myron Brown Ludlow Scholarship, is a senior. He hopes to conduct research on how human landscape features and uses affect the habitat selection and movement of wildlife.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Wendy Lanier

Wendy Lanier, recipient of the Trout Unlimited – West Denver Chapter Scholarship, is a M.S. student. She is studying the direct and indirect effects of introduced greenback cutthroat trout on boreal toad recruitment.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Courtney Larson

Courtney Larson, recipient of The Jack and Retha Grieb Memorial Scholarship, is a M.S. student. She is studying potential risks to wildlife species of conservation concern by measuring and modeling human recreation in protected areas.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Meredith Lewis

Meredith Lewis, recipient of The Dale and Marilyn K. Hein Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, she would like to travel to identify her interests and then return to CSU for a graduate degree.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Stacy Lischka

Stacy Lischka, recipient of The Anheuser-Busch Environmental Fellowship, is a Ph.D. candidate. She is studying human-wildlife conflicts and interactions, specifically with black bears.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Anna Mangan

Anna Mangan, recipient of The Douglas L. Gilbert Memorial Scholarship, is a M.S. student. She is studying the tradeoffs associated with birds in organic apple orchards.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Haley Mondin

Haley Mondin, recipient of The Warner College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Scholarship, is a freshman. Her long-term career goal is to work in wildlife science, either with federal or private organizations.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Brittany Mosher

Brittany Mosher, recipient of The Hill Memorial Fellowship, is a Ph.D. candidate. She is studying disease dynamics in the chytrid fungus and boreal toad system of Colorado.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Joe Northrup

Joe Northrup, recipient of The Douglas L. Gilbert Memorial Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. He is studying the behavioral responses of mule deer to natural gas development in northwestern Colorado.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Jacob Peterson

Jacob Peterson, recipient of The Oscar and Isabel Anderson Undergraduate Scholarship, is a senior. He currently studies predator biology with Colorado Parks & Wildlife.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson, recipient of The Dr. James Nan Bailey Wildlife Conservation Scholarship, is a Ph.D. candidate. He is studying the impacts of natural gas development on mule deer populations and habitat.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Lindsey Power

Lindsey Power, recipient of The Clinton H. Wasser Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, she would like to gain field experience before returning to school for a master’s degree.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Adrienne Prueitt

Adrienne Prueitt, recipient of The D.R. and Virginia D. Pulliam Scholarship, is a junior. Her long-term career goals involve working with large felines through conservation efforts.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Calandria Puntenney

Callie Puntenney, recipient of The Ernest and Bernice Dice Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, she would like to gain more experience with birds and large mammals before pursuing her master’s degree.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Anna Quist

Anna Quist, recipient of The Shari Fraker Memorial Scholarship in Wildlife Management, is a junior. After graduation, she plans to study the wildlife of alpine and arctic ecosystems.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Marina Rodriguez

Marina Rodriguez, recipient of The Susan C. and Laurence E. Riordan Scholarship, is a junior. Her professional goals include becoming an avian research biologist and conservationist.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Clinton Sawyer

Clinton Sawyer, recipient of The Donald E. and Esther L. Harbison Pingree Park Scholarship, is a junior. His interests include restoring lands that have been damaged due to man-made operations, such as mining.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Toryn Schafer

Toryn Schafer, recipient of The Fishery and Wildlife Biology Memorial Award, is a senior. Her career goals involve working in the field of quantitative ecology.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Erica Spiess

Erica Spiess, recipient of The Students First Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, she hopes to join a non-profit organization in studying and teaching about marine ecosystems.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Tyler Stratman

Tyler Stratman, recipient of The Jacob W. Vincent Memorial Scholarship, is a sophomore. His ultimate career goal is to become a professional biologist after obtaining a master’s degree.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Tracy Susan

Tracy Susan, recipient of The Randy Cook Memorial Scholarship, is a senior. After graduation, she hopes to integrate genetics into work with threatened and endangered species.


WCNR Scholarship Recipient - Kurtis Youse

Kurtis Youse, recipient of The Louis F. Swift Scholarship, is a junior. After graduation, he would like to pursue research as a fisheries biologist and work toward sustaining healthy fish populations around the country.


What's that Sound? Scientists Tune in to National Park Audio Research

Elk, owls, coyotes, and snowmobiles all have been heard on Colorado State University campus lately. The sounds are coming from a listening laboratory where a research project between CSU and the National Park Service (NPS)  is analyzing acoustic data recordings to inform and improve management of national parks across the country.

“Sounds, or the lack of them, play a significant role in visitor experiences and wildlife behavior in parks,” said Cecilia White, a research associate for the project. “Acoustic research is a growing field in natural resources sciences and has a variety of important applications from conservation to tourism.”

CSU is collaborating with the NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division (NSNSD) to study detailed park audio recordings that provide valuable clues to wildlife and human park activity and their interaction. The audio data is collected through recording systems that are installed by NSNSD in selected parks for about a month at a time. The systems record audio (as mp3 files) and sound pressure levels (in decibels) and are designed to replicate the experience of a person on the ground. 

NSNSD is part of the Natural Resource Stewardship & Science Directorate of the NPS and uses science, engineering, and technology to understand, restore, maintain, and protect acoustical environments and naturally dark skies throughout the National Park System. CSU researchers currently involved with the program are Ken Wilson, George Wittemyer, and Kevin Crooks with the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, and Lisa Angeloni with the Department of Biology. 

Engaging Students in Acoustic Science
In 2013, the CSU project team created a program to give students the opportunity to gain acoustic research experience.  The students are trained to distinguish different sounds and recognize how they appear on a spectrogram. Once they have tuned their senses, the students listen to recordings from the parks and identify the sounds they hear, such as animals, people, planes, or cars.  They use software designed by NPS to compile the percentage of time a sound was heard, the volume of the sound, and the frequency of the sound.
Coyotes and Owl
Coyote calls and owls
Sparring Elk
Sparring elk
“This research opportunity taught me the importance of natural soundscapes and how human noises can have a significant impact on environments,” says Samantha Bietsch, a CSU junior majoring in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology. “Now when I am outside, I can distinguish all kinds of noises and identify where they are coming from.  My favorite part of the job was getting to hear the birds wake up in the mornings and hearing the coyotes howl.”
The listening lab just hired seven new student researchers and has employed a total of 18 students since its inception.
The Sound of Success
Acoustic research findings have already been incorporated into management policies. In Yellowstone National Park, the NSNSD documented where, how often, and how loud noise would occur under different management scenarios. Incorporating these data into its winter-use plan allowed Yellowstone to provide recreation benefits to oversnow vehicle users while protecting other visitors and wildlife from noise.

NSNSD acoustical data are also being used by Grand Canyon National Park to help manage air tours and protect visitors and park resources from the effects of aircraft noise.

The Division also projected noise level increases from a proposed highway expansion near Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. In Glacier National Park, the NSNSD is studying grassland birds and how they are impacted by traffic noise. 

For more information about the NSNSD, click here.

Posted on Oct. 28, 2014 by Taylor Jaquez

New study verifies more than 100,000 elephants in Africa killed in three years

New research led by Colorado State University has revealed that an estimated 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. The study shows these losses are driving population declines of the world's wild African elephants on the order of 2 percent to 3 percent a year.
Landmark Analysis of Continent-Wide Poaching Toll
This study provides the first verifiable estimation of the impacts of the ongoing ivory crisis on Africa’s elephant populations to date, solidifying speculation about the scale of the ivory crisis. An average of 33,630 elephants per annum are calculated to have been lost over those three years, with preliminary data indicating unsustainable levels continued in 2013.
To quantify the poaching death toll, researchers drew on data and experience from a continent-wide intensive monitoring program. The most thoroughly studied site was Samburu in northern Kenya where every elephant birth and death over the past 16 years has been recorded. The intensive population study was conducted in a project founded by George Wittemyer of Colorado State University with Save the Elephants, and in association with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Wittemyer is lead author of the new report and a professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. He has dedicated his scientific career to understanding and conserving one of Earth’s most intelligent and charismatic species.
"Witnessing the killing of known elephants, some that we have followed since they were born, has been terrible," said Wittemyer. "Our data has become the most sensitive barometer of change during this poaching epidemic.  We needed to quantify the scale of killing and figure out how to derive rigorous interpretation of poaching rates."

Quantifying the scale of killing
The researchers determined illegal killing in Samburu began to surge in 2009. This surge was directly correlated to a more than quadrupling of local black-market ivory prices paid to poachers and tripling in the volume and number of illegal ivory seizures through Kenyan ports of transit. The data also show that the destination of the illegally trafficked ivory increasingly shifted to China.
The team used the intensive study of the Samburu elephants as a Rosetta stone to translate less detailed information from 45 elephant populations across Africa to estimate natural mortality and illegal killing rates to model population trends for the species. The UN-mandated continental Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme establishes cause of death for each elephant carcass found in these sites, and this has provided the best measure of poaching pressure.
Species Decline
Over the last decade, the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent to between 60 percent and 70 percent. Such figures cause conservationists alarm, as the study shows over 54 percent is a level of poaching that elephant birth rates are unable to overcome and will lead to population decline.

”This study helps make sense of the challenge faced by thousands of rangers working on the frontlines to protect elephants and other species across Africa,” said co-author Julian Blanc of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) secretariat. “It also highlights the importance of the accurate collection of data as part of their day-to-day patrol work, which is essential to understand and communicate the true proportions of the threat that elephants face.”
To establish figures rather than proportions, two types of model were used. One focused on the elephant populations with the best information and used them as an indicator for the conditions in their region of Africa. The other used proxy variables such as Chinese consumption rates and a corruption index to estimate illegal killing in 300 sites. Both came to similar conclusions.
While the timing and magnitude of declines differed by region in Africa, with central Africa experiencing the worst levels, all regions of Africa are facing unsustainable levels of ivory poaching with the killing peak in 2011 equating to more than 40,000 elephant deaths.
“It's a complex situation for elephants across Africa, with some populations – such as in Botswana – still increasing. History has taught us that numbers alone are no defense against attrition from the ivory trade, and this new work confirms that elephant numbers are decreasing in East, Central and Southern Africa,” said co-author Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants.
The research paper, "Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants," is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.  

Support Wittemyer's Elephant Conservation Research

Posted on Aug. 18, 2014 by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Traffic noise affects prairie dogs

The cost of living near a freeway may be on the rise, for wildlife. Expanding roadways and traffic world-wide is a key contributor to habitat fragmentation, and researchers at Colorado State University have discovered that anthropogenic noise from road traffic alters the foraging and vigilance behavior of a free-ranging mammal.

Prairie dogs are a crucial component of the American prairie and necessary for a healthy ecosystem, but are commonly overlooked from a conservation perspective. They are considered highly tolerant of non-lethal human activities, but have suffered huge declines due to habitat loss, poisoning, shooting and disease outbreaks. The prairie dog is a keystone species whose survival is crucial for other prairie species, like the endangered black-footed ferret.

The team conducted research on rural prairie dog populations in Colorado, and utilized audio playback experiments to simulate colony exposure to highway traffic noise and isolate the impacts. The study was published in Animal Behaviourand provides the first experimental evidence that noise from road traffic can degrade habitat and impact the behavior of this keystone species.

“Over the next 40 years, road travel is set to double worldwide. The effects on biodiversity from this expansion are likely to be substantial, and it is crucial that we are able to quantify the behavioral and fitness costs of different road-related disturbance factors, such as noise, in order to design and implement effective mitigation measures,” said Graeme Shannon, a Postdoctoral wildlife ecologist in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources and the paper’s lead author.

The study found that the exposure to noise causes behaviors similar to those that would be experienced with elevated risk of predation, for example, reduced foraging and increased alertness. However, there is also the possibility that vocal signals used to alert other prairie dogs to approaching threats may be masked by the traffic noise. “It’s very similar to when we try to conduct a conversation alongside a busy street - it can be difficult to hear what the other person is saying,” Shannon explained.

Prairie dogs make good subject animals because they live in high density colonies and are cognitively advanced. They are social creatures that use complex vocal communication, so the findings could lead to future discoveries with other social species.

“The fact that we found significant changes in their behavior has implications for this species and also more disturbance sensitive animals that may be ultimately lost from habitats that get too noisy,” Shannon said. “Our findings have global implications as road traffic and construction increases worldwide.”