Congratulations! We are so proud of you!
This Thursday, September 19th, will be the opening reception for Vitality: The Art and Science of an Ornithology Collection. This collection is a collaboration between the SEAD Gallery & Bookshop and the Texas A&M University Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC). With the ever-growing collection, the BRTC will showcase a portion of their specimens in this all new, interactive exhibit.
For more information on the collection, you can visit the SEAD Gallery & Bookshop’s event page.
Just two more days until our opening reception for Vitality: The Art and Science of an Ornithology Collection. This collection is a collaboration between the SEAD Gallery & Bookshop and the Texas A&M University Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections. Please join us this Thursday, September 19th, at 6:30 pm for hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. Special thanks to Sterling Auto Group, Texas A&M Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, The Board of the Texas Ornithological Society, Trevor Lancon, and Mike Cook.
Posted by SEAD Gallery and Bookshop on Tuesday, September 17, 2019
To see more about what the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC) entails, head over to the BRTC Facility’s page. For information on how to Give to the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department to support our research and opportunities, visit our Giving page.
Members of Dr. Jessica Light’s lab (Lacie LaMonica, Sarah Ardry, Stephen Fowler, and Sandy Martinez) traveled to Kinney, Dimmit, and Webb Counties during the summer of 2019 in search of the elusive Nelson’s pocket mouse (Chaetodipus nelsoni). This species is believed to be distributed in southwest Texas; however, there are no recent records to document the presence of the Nelson’s pocket mouse in this part of Texas. The goal of this work was to see if the Nelson’s pocket mouse (and its preferred rocky habitats) is still present in southwest Texas. Over the course of the summer, the field team took three separate trips and set out a total of 4,470 small mammal traps. Although the field team did not catch any specimens of the Nelson’s pocket mouse, they caught some awesome sunrises, sunsets, and a variety of other rodent species. The team trapped a total of 322 rodents representing 9 different species for an overall trapping success of 7.2%. Not too shabby! All specimens were healthy, active, and released. This research is funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Dr. Maureen Frank was quoted in CNN article on May 29, Flooding can increase run-ins with snakes, rats and other critters. Here’s what to do if you encounter them.
Drs. Nova Silvy and Brian Pierce received a grant from Reversing the Quail Decline in Texas Initiative and the Upland Game Bird Stamp, a collaborative effort between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service to study the success and impacts of translocation on northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). Read more.
Drs. Perry Barboza, Thomas Lacher, Jessica Light, and Mike Morrison labs were represented with multiple posters and presentations at the June 28 – July 2 American Society of Mammalogist Centennial Meeting in Washington DC.
Dr. Kevin Conway has a new paper describing a new genus with two new species of clingfishes from Australia.
Dr. Todd Sink’s article, Preparing for and Recovering from Hurricanes, Typhoons, Cyclones and Tropical Storms in Pond-based Fish Production, was in Aquaculture Magazine published by the World Aquaculture Society. The article shows many images of the ARTF in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. This article was adapted by Dr. Sink and his coauthors from the chapters written for the new USDA Hurricane Preparedness & Recovery Technical Manual and represents a collaboration between Texas A&M, LSU, and U. of Georgia.
Dr. Delbert Gatlin and two of his Ph.D. students, Clement de Cruz and Kequan Chen, were authors on a paper highlighted in an article by feednavigator.com on June 25, Algae meals may provide fishmeal, oil replacements for carnivorous fish.
Dr. Todd Sink addressed recent stories involving companion animal deaths linked to toxins in surface water to assuage fears and provide information to help the public protect themselves and their animals. AgriLife Today Facebook Video Texas A&M Today
Drs. Rose Wang and Bill Grant published a new book, Ecological Modeling, Vol. 31, 1st Ed.
Dr. Perry Barboza’s Ph.D. student, Bridgett Downs, had her reserach featured in the article, Moose Research Moose and Their Flying Antagonists, by Alaska Dept of Fish and Game.
Dr. Norman Dronen’s undergraduate research students, Sophia Sánchez and Kelsey Garner are listed as first authors on research articles.
Dr. Jessica Yorzinski’s undergraduate research student, Samantha Argubright, was listed as second author on Wind Increases Blinking Behavior in Great-Tailed Grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus).
Dr. Kevin Conway presented a plenary session on clingfish at the European Congress of Ichthyology in Lausanne, Switzerland on Sept 3, 2019.
The BRTC has an exhibit currently at the Reynolds Gallery (in the MSC) and features 3D visualizations of our fish specimens that is part of the National Science Foundation funded oVert project. There will be another exhibit featuring the Collection of Birds that will open one week from today in downtown Bryan at the SEAD gallery.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences supports a robust undergraduate research program through internships, directed studies, and undergraduate research. It is not uncommon for the students conducting undergraduate research to make meaningful contributions to ongoing studies. These students are included as junior authors on articles published in top-ranked journals in a variety of fields. However, recently two undergraduates working in the WFSC Laboratory of Parasitology were so instrumental in their research projects, that they were both listed as first authors on research articles.
In 2018, undergraduate student, Sophia Sánchez, along with M.S. student, Liat Goldstein, and WFSC professor, Norman Dronen published an article concerning a 20.7 m (about 68 ft.) long tapeworm from a bottlenose dolphin that was found dead along the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston.
Sánchez, S. M., Goldstein, L. Y. and Dronen, N. O. (2018) Diphyllobothrium stemmacephalum Cobbold, 1858 (Diphyllobothriidea) from common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus (Montagu) from the Texas Gulf coast, USA. Zootaxa, 4379 (3), 448–450.
In 2019, another undergraduate student, Kelsey Garner, published an article with Essa Mohammed (Marine Science Center, University of Basrah, Iraq), Charles Blend (Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History), Majid Bannai (Species Diversity Program, University of Basrah, Iraq), and Norman Dronen concerning a parasite from a fish (Hilsa shad) from the Arabian Gulf.
Garner, K. L., Mohammed, E. T., Blend, C.K., Bannai, M., and Dronen, N. O. (2019) Redescription of Faustula gangetica (Srivastava, 1935) (Plagiorchiida: Faustulidae) in the Hilsa Shad, Tenualosa ilisha (Hamilton) (Clupeidae), from the Arabian Gulf off Iraq. Comparative Parasitology, 86 (2), 89–93.
Both of these publications are significant contributions in their field and serve as evidence of the high-quality undergraduate students at Texas A&M University.
COLLEGE STATION — The Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collection, or BTRC, maintained by the Texas A&M Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences has launched a gallery of images created using CT scans from their collection of specimens, including a bigeye thresher shark, an alligator snapping turtle, a clingfish and three other images.
The gallery, on display from June 12 to Sept. 21, is hosted by the Reynolds Gallery at the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University, 275 Joe Routt Blvd., College Station.
The gallery exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is part of the “Open Vertebrate Exploration in 3D” project, or oVert. Texas A&M is one of 16 institutions involved in the multimillion-dollar project backed by the National Science Foundation, or NSF.
Using specialized scanners designed for human and veterinary medical uses, the BRTC along with the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studiesand the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine are working together to scan some of the largest specimens in the project.
Six examples of these high-quality digital scans are on display in the Reynolds Gallery, organized by Heather Prestridge, curator of the BRTC, and Mary Compton, curator of the Reynolds Gallery.
“Some of these animals are only preserved in a few collections around the world, which makes them difficult and sometimes impossible to study in detail,” Prestridge said. “With digital scans that can be shared electronically, scientists have access to thousands of unique animal species at their fingertips.”
“Each scan comes with its own story,” Prestridge said. “There is a skull of a fish that’s inside this eel that he ate, but we would have never known that if we didn’t CT scan it. So now we have colleagues at the University of Florida working on segmenting this piece out so we can identify the fish.”
Each image is accompanied by a description and a scaled image to give viewers a visual depiction of the size of the specimen. The specimens range from a few inches to a few feet in length.
“Nothing that we do is standard,” Prestridge said. “Each is a different size. Each is a different shape. This makes our job challenging and forces innovation.”
Each image on display is brightly colored in different gradients that are strictly related to the density of the material and is used purely as an artistic application, she explained.
The goal of the project is to scan more than 20,000 unique animal species by 2021. The best specimens are identified, and then their digital images are uploaded to a free online database called MorphoSource, she explained.
“Half of our download requests are for ‘non-research’ use,” Prestridge said. “This helps collections like ours to engage non-traditional user groups, including K-12 education, which can use our data to 3D print specimens and artists who work in digital media.”
The post Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections’ oVert project on display at Texas A&M appeared first on AgriLife Today.
To see more about what the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC) entails, head over to the BRTC Facility‘s page. For information on how to Give to the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department to support our research and opportunities, visit our Giving page.
COLLEGE STATION — The Reynolds Gallery at the Texas A&M Memorial Student Center is hosting the first Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Graduate Lunchtime Seminar Series on Aug. 30 from noon to 1 p.m. within the Reynolds Gallery, 275 Joe Routt Blvd., College Station.
The seminar, Open Vertebrate, oVert: Improving Access to Natural History Collections through 3D Scanning, is free and open to the public. It will feature the gallery installation of visualizations of specimens from the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, BRTC, the natural history collections at Texas A&M University. It will feature Heather L. Prestridge, curator at the BRTC, as the speaker.
Data for these visualizations was captured as part of the National Science Foundation sponsored oVert: Open Vertebrate Exploration in 3D Thematic Collections Network. Texas A&M is one of 16 institutions involved in the multimillion-dollar project backed by the NSF.
The project is represented at Texas A&M University by Kevin Conway, Ph.D., associate professor for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and curator of fishes for the BRTC, Prestridge and Sarah Potvin, associate professor for the Texas A&M University Libraries.
Drs. Nova Silvy (Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences; WFSC) and Brian Pierce (Natural Resources Institute) at Texas A&M University received a grant from Reversing the Quail Decline in Texas Initiative and the Upland Game Bird Stamp, a collaborative effort between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Service to study the success and impacts of translocation on northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus).
The northern bobwhite has undergone extreme population declines throughout the state and has become expatriated or rare in many portions of its historic range. The causes of this decline are many-fold, but biologists point to habitat loss and catastrophic weather events as major factors. In many portions of their range land use patterns have changed, and large tracts of suitable habitat have become fragmented. Quail isolated in these remaining patches are more vulnerable to local extinction compared to those found in large, contiguous patches of habitat. Adverse weather events, such as flooding, droughts, and temperature extremes also have been shown to negatively impact quail by directly killing the birds (or destroying nests) or indirectly by impacting vegetation, delaying nesting, or slowing quail growth.
Using walk-in traps, quail were trapped at two sites, one near Aguilares, Texas and one near Carrizo Springs, Texas. Quail were sexed, aged, weighed, fitted with radio transmitters, and banded. In addition, a blood sample was taken from each quail. Forty-six quail were moved to Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area near Tennessee Colony, Texas while 17 were released in the same location they were trapped. As part of this study, bobwhites are trapped in areas of the state with sustainable populations of quail and moved to areas where quail have historically been found (and habitat characteristics suggest quail should thrive), but are currently not present. Quail are fitted with radio transmitters allowing researchers to track their movements, find nests, and calculate movements, ranges, habitat use, survival, and nesting success. Although most trapped quail are moved to a new site, a portion are radio-tagged and re-released on the originally property in order to compare differences between the source population and the translocated population.
This study will determine the feasibility of translocating quail from their strongholds in south and west Texas to areas in east and north Texas where they have historically occurred, but have undergone steep population declines over the last 100 years. This study also hopes to identify factors that are more likely to result in a successful quail translocation to aid future projects. This study is also providing training to a post-doctoral researcher, a graduate student, and two undergraduate students in the WFSC Texas A&M University.
We wish to thank TPWD for permits and providing some of the translocated quail. We specifically wish to thank the staff at GEWMA for their assistance with monitoring translocated quail. We also wish to thank the landowners who allowed us land access to trap quail and track the quail re-released at the trapping site.
For information on how to Give to the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department to support our research and opportunities, visit our Giving page.
COLLEGE STATION – Pond health and maintenance should be a top priority for landowners who want to get the most out of their favorite fishing hole, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. Todd Sink, AgriLife Extension aquaculture specialist, College Station, said maintaining ponds is critical to increasing fish productivity and avoiding fish kills.
Environmental factors like declining dissolved oxygen during peak summer months or inhospitable pH and alkalinity levels can lead to major problems in stock ponds, Sink said.
“Summer is coming,” he said. “Right now is a good time to be planning or taking action to prevent potential issues for stock ponds. July and August can be deadly if dissolved oxygen levels are not where they should be. We want to help pond owners avoid catastrophe and take steps to set their pond on a good path for long-term production and enjoyment.”
Setting up and maintaining a pond’s ecosystem properly can produce a thriving food chain that will produce higher levels of sport and food, he said.
“Stock ponds are something that many Texans enjoy recreationally and to put food on their tables,” he said. “But pond maintenance is often overlooked in varying degrees. Some things can reduce pond production and ecosystem health while others can cause major fish die-offs. Right now is a good time to go over science-based recommendations and steps every pond owner can take to create a high-performing stock pond.”
Providing supplemental aeration isn’t necessary, but it is a preventative tool to ensure fish have enough dissolved oxygen, Sink said.
Choosing the right type of aerator is important, he said. He recommends the bottom-style aerator because it mixes the entire water column so fish can utilize the entire pond.
They cost a little more, but are more reliable than surface aerators, he said, which can be problematic because they mix dissolved oxygen only in the top two to four feet of the pond.
“Surface aerators don’t mix as much dissolved oxygen, and they don’t prevent stratification and possible turnover,” he said. “When the sun heats pond water, typically about six to eight feet deep in Texas, the top layer becomes less dense. So, you have warm, less dense water sitting there, and the cool bottom layer becomes devoid of oxygen. A turnover event occurs when the water cools down and the water with no oxygen mixes with the top layer. That mix can cause fish kills.”
Sink said aerators should be on a timer and only run from dusk until dawn, when oxygen is most needed in ponds.
Aquatic vegetation is the cause of 80 percent of low dissolved oxygen fish kills in Texas, Sink said. So, it’s important to ensure that no more than 10-15 percent of the pond’s overall area is covered in vegetation.
“During the day, vegetation produces oxygen, but it also consumes oxygen all night long when there is no light for photosynthesis,” he said. “So at some point, especially in summer, the dissolved oxygen deficit can cause fish to die.”
Sink recommends using herbicides or biological controls for aquatic vegetation. Manual removal of vegetation can cause more problems like causing the plant to spread.
Pond owners need to correctly identify the plants to determine which herbicide will be effective, Sink said. The AgriLife Extension website https://aquaplant.tamu.edu/ can help pond owners identify and choose treatment options for aquatic vegetation.
Pond owners who want maximum fish production often need to fertilize, Sink said.
“A fertilized pond can produce four to six times more fish because it creates more food throughout the food chain,” he said. “Fertilizers feed phytoplankton, which is eaten by zooplankton. Zooplankton feed baitfish, and baitfish feed sportfish like bass and catfish. Fertilizer is the starting block for a healthy pond ecosystem.”
It’s best to start pond fertilization programs as the pond fills with water, Sink said. This allows the phytoplankton to prevent rooted vegetation from establishing in a pond. But fertilization programs can be implemented at any time in a pond’s life to improve fishing.
Most ponds benefit from six to eight pounds of phosphorous per surface acre during the first application, he said.
“When the water begins to clear, meaning clearing to around 24 inches of visibility, typically four to eight weeks after the first application, it’s time to fertilize again,” he said. “Then apply half of what was applied the first application on that schedule all summer long.”
Note: Sink said it is important to clear rooted aquatic vegetation with herbicides before fertilizing because you’ll have four to six times more vegetation if you don’t.
Harvesting the correct number of pounds and size of fish from ponds is important, Sink said.
“Catch and release is the most common way people ruin a pond,” he said. “It’s good for high-pressure public lakes, but unless your pond is under constant fishing pressure, the key to pond management is harvesting predatory fish like bass and catfish. In ponds, we should practice catch and eat.”
Sink said 10-15 pounds of bass per acre should be harvested every year. Anglers should focus on removing bass in the 8-10-inch range, but a little larger or smaller is okay as long as the total pounds of harvest is met.
“Every year, you need to thin out the smaller bass so that 4-pound bass has the resources to become an 8-pound bass,” he said.
Pond owners should be more aggressive with controlling catfish populations, Sink said. Anglers should harvest every catfish over 2 pounds.
“Catfish are eager competitors for forage and will eat smaller bass and will push the total fish population beyond 1,000 pounds per acre, which is dangerous in terms of oxygen supply,” he said.
Fertilized ponds produce more fish and therefore require more harvested pounds per year, Sink said.
Pond owners should harvest 25 pounds or more of 8-10-inch bass and 10-15 pounds of 12-16-inch bass per acre from fertilized ponds, Sink said. As in unfertilized ponds, every catfish above two pounds should be harvested.
“You have to harvest a lot more fish to maintain a good balance,” he said. “Not harvesting enough predatory fish is the most common problem. Eventually, they overpopulate and eat all the sunfish and there’s not enough food in the pond. That causes stunting. You know what I mean if you’ve ever fished a pond and caught 30-40 fish in an afternoon, but they’re all the same size – 6-10 inches.”
Feeding fish is not necessary if pond owners harvest effectively, Sink said. If owners choose to feed fish, they should only do so three to four times a week. They should also feed no more than what the fish clean up in 15 minutes.
“If feed is floating after 15 minutes, you’re over-feeding the fish,” Sink said.
Sink recommends standard floating catfish diet of 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch pellet that contains 28-32 percent protein and 4-7 percent lipid.
“You don’t need fancy, gimmicky diets for the fish,” he said. “Anything beyond those protein and lipid ranges is literally waste.”
Sink said it is the perfect time for pond owners to check their water’s pH levels and check for alkalinity and hardness. The pond should receive crushed agricultural limestone if pH is below 6 or alkalinity below 50 parts per million.
“Liming is important because if water becomes too acidic it messes up fish physiology and dramatically impacts eggs and larvae survival,” he said.
In much of the state, lime should be applied every five to seven years, but Sink said acidic soils in East Texas make it necessary every three to four years.
Alkalinity and pH levels will determine how much lime is needed, Sink said. He recommends consulting with regional fisheries specialist to determine how much lime should be applied per surface acre.
“We have a formula that we can plug in the alkalinity and pH of your pond and have a per-acre application to fit your pond’s needs,” he said.
WORTH THE EFFORT
Sink said maintaining a pond may seem overwhelming but is easy once certain problems are addressed. In the long run, ensuring a pond is providing the correct environment and food supply for sporting fish will ensure productivity whether for sport or sustenance.
“It may seem daunting at first, but once a pond environment and ecosystem is balanced, pond maintenance becomes routine,” he said. “If fishing or just having a healthy pond is important, it’s worth the effort.”
The post Pond maintenance boosts performance, prevents catastrophes appeared first on AgriLife Today.
Members of the Light lab (Lacie LaMonica, Sarah Ardry, Stephen Fowler, and Sandy Martinez) traveled to Webb and Dimmit Counties in mid-May, where they spent 5 nights setting a total of 1,750 small mammal traps in search of the elusive Nelson’s pocket mouse (Chaetodipus nelsoni).
Although they did not catch any C. nelsoni, they caught some awesome sunrises, sunsets, and a variety of other rodent species. The team trapped a total of 133 rodents representing 9 different species, including 71 white-footed deer mice (Peromyscus leucopus), 21 northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster), 15 Southern plains wood rats (Neotoma micropus), 12 hispid cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), 8 fulvous harvest mice (Reithrodontomys fulvescens), 2 kangaroo rats (Dipodomys sp.), 2 hispid pocket mice (Chaetodipus hispidus), 1 northern pygmy mouse (Baiomys taylori), and 1 Merriam’s pocket mouse (Perognathus merriami). All specimens were healthy, active and released. Great job, team!
This research is funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
See photos from the trapping trip below.