Fish Wildlife and Conservation Ecology
Dr. Martha Desmond’s NRCT Program was highlighted last week in the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Bulletin “Fresh from the Field.” This publication showcases NIFA projects with transformative impacts and is sent to members of congress, agency leadership as well as other stakeholders. The NRCT Program is supported by a NIFA Hispanic-Serving Institution’s grant, and this past year provided outreach in the form of pathways workshops, leadership classes and community programs that have resulted in 32 undergraduate summer internships and reached more than 1,500 high school and community college students at 14 recruiting events. Although Dr. Desmond is based in the Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology department, the opportunities she provides are for any major focused on natural resources and she works with four, 4-yr institutions across the southwest.
Alexa Martinez, an ACES alumna who majored in Wildlife Science with minors in Biology, Conservation Biology, and Range Science is now a Wildlife Biologist at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Alexa grew up in Chamberino, a small agricultural community in New Mexico. She remembers following her grandpa out to the onion fields and bringing stray animals back home. This is where her love for the outdoors began. While an undergraduate, she volunteered to work in a kangaroo rat project in the Biology Department and for two summers of internships, she served as a research technician at USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services. By the end of each one of those summers, she was coauthor of a published research paper. Alexa acknowledges the benefits that came from participating in the Natural Resources Career Tracks. An initiative between NMSU and the Forest Service to help minorities gain experience toward being competitive in natural-resources career paths.
During the annual Miss Native American NMSU Pageant on April 7, Wildlife Science Masters student Stephanie Muise (First Nations, Mi’k Maq) was crowned as Miss Native American NMSU. As part of the yearly American Indian Week activities, a pageant is held by the American Indian Program, AISES, UNAO, and NABSA to select an ambassador for the American Indian Program and associated student organizations. Miss Native American NMSU also acts as an ambassador for all Native American Students at the university to various Tribes, Pueblos, and Nations across the United States and Canada. Stephanie’s platform included breaking down tribal misconceptions, as well as integrating traditional knowledge into modern science, which is a common thread in her graduate research. She will hold this role until the Miss Native American NMSU pageant in April of 2018.
On March 25, Stephanie Muise, a graduate student in the Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology Department, was inaugurated into the Native American Women Warriors color guard during the 43rd Annual Denver March Pow Wow meeting. The Native American Women Warriors (NAWW) is a color guard made up of all women, Native American Veterans who are selected through a strict application process. Not only must a woman have served in the armed forces to be considered, she must also show that she strives to improve the lives of Veterans and their native communities in their day-to-day lives. The NAWW has been invited to presidential inaugurations, monument unveiling, as well as significant Native American cultural events across the country, and they serve as ambassadors to the public for women veterans. The Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology Department is very proud of Stephanie.
Dr. Ken Boykin and his co-authors received Honorable Mention from the EPA’s Science and Technological Achievement Award (STAA) program for their 2016 article “A National Approach for Mapping and Quantifying Habitat-based Biodiversity Metrics across Multiple Spatial Scales,” published in Ecological Indicators/Special Issue Publication, October 2013, 33:139-147. The STAA awards are an agency-wide program that recognizes the outstanding scientific work of EPA employees who publish their technical work in peer-reviewed literature.
New Mexico State University - Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology swept the regional 50th Joint Annual Meeting of the AZ/NM Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, the Arizona Wildlife Society, and the New Mexico Wildlife Society held in Farmington, New Mexico (February 9-11, 2017). The Conference started with FWCE undergraduate students (Will Lubenau, Adam Baca, Marcus Montoya, Joe Youtz) winning the Quiz Bowl. Ian Perkins-Taylor won the Best Student Paper for Wildlife and Damon Peterson won the Best Student Paper for Fisheries. Will Lubenau won the AZ/NM AFS Chapter prestigious Miles McInnis Scholarship and the coveted fly rod in the raffle contest. Matthew Boggie won the 2016 Outstanding Student Award from the NM Wildlife Society for his outstanding contributions to New Mexico wildlife conservation. Susan Bard received a Student Travel Award from NM TWS and Alex Kunkel received second place for Best Student Poster. NMSU FWCE graduate students took away cash prizes from the photo contest: Cody Bear received awards for "Best Landscape,"Best Bird," and "Best of Show." Alex Kunkel received an award for "Best Fish" photo, Susan Bard received an award for the "Best Mammal" photo, and Sarah Grubel received an award for the "Caught in the Act" photo.
Way to go Fish and Wildlife Aggies!
Professor Dave Cowley and PhD student Michael Hatch made presentations on February 1-2 as invited subject matter experts to the “Independent Science Panel: Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Life History” that was convened by the Middle Rio Grande Adaptive Management Program. A series of independent science panels are reviewing efforts undertaken to recover the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow by identifying knowledge gaps and recommending how science can be better applied for conservation of this endangered species.
The students in FWCE, Wildlife Museum, gave an educational program about the wildlife of the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument at Dripping Springs in December. The NMSU Wildlife Museum is cooperating with the Bureau of Land Management to provide public education on wildlife related to the new Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument. The education programs are delivered by NMSU students and are open to the public. Click on the PDF file to view the article written by the Las Cruces Bulletin.
Ken Boykin from the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology and Bill Kepner from EPA presented papers at a National Biodiversity Metrics & Mapping Workshop at the 2016 conference of A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES) in Jacksonville, Florida in December. A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy-makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2016 Conference brought together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership, providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference was to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe.
Meredith Campbell, a graduate student from the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, received the Graduate School’s 2016 Outstanding Graduate Award. This is the highest award the NMSU Alumni Association bestows upon a graduate student. Meredith was selected through a competitive process among many outstanding nominees across NMSU and is well deserving of this recognition.
As a result of a consortium to address conservation of western continental golden eagle populations, convened by Dr. Gary Roemer (NMSU Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology), Dr. James Cain (USGS New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the first-ever federal permit was issued allowing researchers to share golden eagle feather and tissue samples for scientific research. This has resulted in genetic and stable isotope research, which will increase our understanding of the movement ecology and genetic structure of the continental golden eagle population and contribute to mitigating anthropogenic mortality factors such as deaths due to electrocution and wind turbine collisions.
Dr. Gary Roemer, a professor in the Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, over 20 years ago began an ecological study of the island fox, a diminutive relative of the gray fox found only on the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. As luck would have it, Dr. Roemer discovered that golden eagles had colonized the islands because of abundant food, including foxes and feral pigs, and through a process known as apparent competition, drove three subspecies of the island fox toward extinction. His research formed the biological cornerstone of an endangered species recovery program that saved the island fox from extinction - the fastest recovery of a mammal in the history of the U.S. Endangered Species Act. For more information, please see Article - How We Almost Lost the Island Fox.
Professor Emeritus Dr. Raul Valdez’s recent book, “Ecology and Management of Wildlife in Mexico” won the Outstanding Book Publication Award from the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society in 2016. texas
Student Research: Fish Wildlife and Conservation Ecology (FWCE) Grad Student Meredith Campbell conducted research on hundreds of endangered humpback chubs in the Grand Canyon for nearly two weeks in early Fall accompanied by her Advisor, Dr. Colleen A. Caldwell, Fisheries Biologist (USGS) and Affiliate Professor with FWCE, along with other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees. Campbell is attempting to develop a non-lethal tool for detecting the Asian tapeworm, an invasive parasite affecting many wild fishes in North America, and determine the percentage of the humpback chub population that is infected. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is very interested in Campbell's findings and to use her non-lethal method on captive populations currently in hatcheries, as the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources & Recovery Center in Dexter, NM. Please see NMSU Grad Student Conducts Fish Research article.
Wildlife Museum Tour: On Friday, November 6, approximately 75 students and 15 adults from El Paso’s Carlos Rivera Elementary School, visited the NMSU Wildlife Museum. As part of the Wildlife Museum tour, undergraduate students from the NMSU Chapter of the American Fisheries Society demonstrated using seines to capture fish in the Knox Hall pond. The elementary school group also visited the NMSU Arthropod Museum and the Zuhl Library.
ACES Wildlife Museum Education Booth: Over 1,500 people stopped by the ACES Wildlife Museum educational booth set up at the Las Cruces Farmer's Market on Saturday, September 26, for National Hunting and Fishing Day. National Hunting and Fishing Day was established by a resolution of the US Congress in 1972 to "urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations." Our booth helped focus attention on the importance of hunting and fishing in restoring populations of fish and wildlife for the use and enjoyment by all Americans. Jennifer Frey, Museum Curator, and three students ran the booth at the Farmer's Market.
The USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions program has awarded $2 Million for the Southwest Natural Resource Career Track (NRCT) program. This program is led by Martha Desmond of the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology; co-PIs include David Hacker of New Mexico Highlands University, Berlinda Baca Sanchez with the USDA Forest Service, and Rick Tafoya with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program mentors graduate and undergraduate students in natural resource fields across four-year institutions (New Mexico State University, New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico College, and Sul Ross State University) and provides outreach in the form of student workshops and articulation agreements with eight community colleges in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. Annual programs for our students include USDA PATHWAYS workshops and on-site hiring events, summer internships, semester research experiences, local & international field courses, global experiences, travel to professional meetings, faculty and professional mentoring, and student outreach. The program aims to improve student recruitment, retention, academic performance and graduation rates, and to increase the number of students seeking graduate degrees and obtaining careers with federal agencies.
Oscura Mountain Chipmunk: More than just a cute and cuddly critter, the Oscura Mountain chipmunk is providing New Mexico State University Fish and Wildlife researchers with vital habitat information on an entirely unique kind of animal. Dr. Jennifer Frey, Curator of the NMSU Wildlife Museum, and her graduate student Ian Perkins-Taylor are using novel research techniques to document information regarding population ecology and habitat use that is important for the future conservation of this species.
Drs. Gary Roemer, and James Cain recently received an augmentation to their grant entitled: "An Assessment of the Landscape Genetic Structure of the Western Continental Golden Eagle Population". The augmentation was for an additional $93,444 - bringing the total received for this project to $120,043. This work involves a consortium of academic and agency scientists and resource managers whose collective goal is to determine the connectivity of golden eagle populations to minimize the impacts of proposed wind energy developments in the U.S.
On Thursday 16 April, the NMSU Wildlife Museum, under direction of Dr. Jennifer Frey, delivered educational programs on the importance of water to local wildlife at the fourth annual Las Cruces Water Festival. The event was attended by 1,300 third and fourth graders and 225 adults representing 13 different schools in the area.
On Monday 6 April, Dr. Jennifer Frey and the Wildlife Museum in conjunction with the student chapter of the American Fisheries Society, gave a tour and presentation to 36 kids and ten adults from the Roadrunner Pre-K program.
On Thursday 9 April, Jennifer Frey and graduate student Brian Small gave a presentation on vegetation requirements for beaver restoration to the New Mexico Southern Wetlands Roundtable hosted by the NM Environment Department.
Gary Roemer and Dr. Jimmy Cain from the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology and the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, respectively, received $218,867 from the Department of the Army for control of invasive burros and for the mitigation of mange in coyotes at Ft. Irwin National Training Center in California. These two species are impacting base operations and causing human health concerns. Results of this project will be used to suggest non-lethal control strategies for reducing use of the base's garrison by these two species. This work supports two graduate students within the FWCE department.
ACES student TWS (The Wildlife Society) and AFS (American Fishery Society) Team Victorious Once Again!! New Mexico State University, FWCE, hosted the 2015 Joint Annual Meeting of the New Mexico and Arizona Wildlife Society and American Fisheries Society here in Las Cruces. The meeting was attended by 350 people from state, federal, private agencies and universities. Seven universities from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas were represented. The Department of FWCE was represented by 6 undergraduates, 6 graduates, 1 Ph.D., 2 Post-Docs, and 4 faculty. All gave scientific presentations. Dr. Scott Carleton participated as a plenary speaker on new technologies in fish and wildlife ecology. Dr. James Cain, out-going president of the New Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society will soon be replaced by incoming president-elect Dr. Virginia Seamster, also located here in the Department of FWCE. Special kudos and congrats to our amazing team of undergraduates - Clay Morrow, Jacob Townsend, Isidro Barella and Hunter Falco for taking home the AZ/NM Quiz Bowl Trophy for the second year in a row! Hunter Falco also received the prestigious AZ/NM American Fisheries Society Miles McInnis Award.
Praise to The ACES Wildlife Society (TWS) Student Chapter Members in the Field! Bosque del Apache biologists sent this note to TWS Student Chapter President Dominique Lujan following a duck trapping weekend under the supervision of Advisor, Dr. Scott A. Carleton: "Please pass on my thanks to everyone that came up with you today. Without a doubt your group was the most help, most professional and most enjoyable I have had on a rocket shot and banding. Look forward to working with all of you at NMSU in the future.
The National Resource Career Tract is sending 5 FWCE students to the national Wildlife Society Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA (Oct 20-25) where (among other things) they will compete in the national TWS student quiz bowl competition.
The Natural Resource Career Track (NRCT) program through FWCE (developed by Dr. Martha Desmond) is hosting a 90-minute panel presentation next week at the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) in Los Angeles, CA. This panel is entitled "The mentor/mentee experience: making connections from school to career" and will be run by four faculty from New Mexico and Puerto Rico institutions, one Forest Service employee in the Civil Rights Office, and students from NMSU and exchange students from Puerto Rico.
White Sands Missile Range awarded Dr. Jennifer Frey a $50,000 grant to conduct research for a small mammal survey and to train students in conducting research.
Gary Roemer, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, was invited to participate in an NSF (National Science Foundation) Review panel. A very important federal funding source for scientific research.
Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology (FWCE) students attended the joint annual meeting of the Arizona and New Mexico chapters of the American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society. During the opening social, they held the first ever JAM Quiz Bowl. An NMSU FWCE student team won the competition, beating teams from Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona. Student team members were:
Team 1) Thomas Lubenau, William Lubenau, Clay Morrow, Trey Turnbull.
Team 2) Naomi Apodaca, Quentin Dean, Gerry Gonzales, Katie Joyner.
Team 3) Hunter Falco, Miranda Butler-Valverde, Jacob Naranjo, and Chance Roberts.
Graduate student Nathan Chase won the best Fisheries presentation award for his talk "Using Otolith Microchemistry to Track Movements of Prairie Stream Fishes in the Pecos River, New Mexico." NMSU was represented by 24 undergraduate students, 12 graduate students and post docs, the USGS COOP Unit faculty (Drs. Colleen Caldwell, James Cain, Scott Carleton, Keneth Boykin), and Dr. Jennifer Frey.
Dr. Martha Desmond, FWCE was awarded the 2013 Professional of the Year Award in Wildlife Conservation from the NM Chapter of The Wildlife Society for her development of the Natural Resource Career Tract (NRCT) Program, which provides a unique venue for encouraging Hispanic students to pursue careers in natural resource fields.
Professor David Cowley, in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology(FWCE), attended the International Biogeography Society meeting in Canberra, Australia to present his research on "Integrating parasite--- host interactions in distribution and abundance models to understand spatial patterns and to address conservation of an endangered freshwater mussel and its hosts. "
Dr. David Cowley of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology (FWCE) attended the International Biogeography Society meeting in Canberra, Australia, to present his research on "Integrating parasite--host interactions in distribution and abundance models to understand spatial patterns and to address conservation of an endangered freshwater mussel and its hosts."
Dr. Gary Roemer of FWCE attended the Gordon Conference in Ventura, California, about predator-prey interactions.
Dr. Martha Desmond attended a PI meeting" in Washington, D.C., for her USDA grant on "Preparing Students for Career Paths with the USDA Forest Service by Linking Student Success with Experiential Learning Opportunities in Forest Management and Climate Change Ecology".
Dr. Kathryn Stoner is the new Department Head in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology. Kathryn comes to us from Texas A&M, Kingsville. She earned her BS in Zoology--Anthropology, an MA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a PhD in Ecology from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Her specialty is in tropical bats. She has extensive contacts in Mexico and Central America which will help with collaborations with other universities and also with recruiting students.