Ms. Caylie Harris won second place in the Undergraduate Poster competition in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Category at the 2019 Student Research Week! Caylie is being advised by Heather Prestridge at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections and her poster was about federally endangered ocelot specimens newly accessioned into the mammal collection.
Undergraduate student, Adam Baker, at Ecological Systems Laboratory presented his research “Effects of climate change on Anaplasma Phagocytophilum risk in Minnesota and Wisconsin from 2005 to 2015” at Student Research Week and won the 2nd place for his oral presentation in the Health Sciences Category. Congratulations, Adam!!
TAMU aquaculture students and faculty attended the World Aquaculture Society 2019 conference in New Orleans, March 7-11. Graduate Students Fernando Yamamoto and Clement de Cruz were recognized at this year’s show. The conference is the largest aquaculture meeting in the world, with close to 4,000 in attendance. Fernando Yamamoto received the Best Abstract/Travel Award from the World Aquaculture Society and in addition earned a victory in the Student Spotlight Presentation Competition. His presentation on “Growth and Physiological Effects of Replacing Fish Meal By Dry Extruded Seafood Waste Blended With Plant Protein Co-Products In Diets For Advanced Red Drum Sciaenops ocellatus Juveniles” was selected as best overall student presentation. Clement de Cruz won the 2019 Pentair and USAS Student Travel Award. Numerous other students from WFSC gave outstanding oral presentations and poster presentations on their current research.
Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan (Rose) Wang has a new project through The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), through the National Science Foundation. Her project will cover “Simultaneously managing scale and uncertainty using innovate software design concepts in a tiered, system-of-systems modeling framework.” Read more…
Happy March, everyone! You know what March means, right? MARCH MAMMAL MADNESS!! What is March Mammal Madness? Inspired by (but in no way affiliated with or representing) the NCAA College Basketball March Madness Championship Tournament, March Mammal Madness is an annual tournament of simulated combat competition among mammals (and other organisms). Scientific literature is cited to substantiate likely outcomes as a probabilistic function of the two species’ attributes within the battle environment. Attributes considered in calculating battle outcome include temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation.
More information can be found here at the March Mammal Madness 2019 blogspot page or the March Mammal Madness Facebook page. Additionally, the ASU Library Guide and the American Society of Mammalogists each has amazing resources for research on the combatants.
For fun, let’s get the entire Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department (and then some; anyone is welcome) to participate. A poster of the bracket is posted on the second floor in the WFES building.
Additional information about March Mammal Madness as well as brackets and pushpins/tape are as well. The first battle (Wild Card) is on March 11th (full schedule below). Fill out your bracket before the 11th (don’t forget to put your name on your bracket!), post it on the wall, and watch the action unfold! Questions? Contact Dr. Light (one of the March Mammal Madness Narrators).
MARCH MAMMAL MADNESS CALENDAR
March 1 (Monday)
March 11 (Monday)
March 13 (Wednesday)
Round 1 Jump Jump
March 14 (Thursday)
Round 1 Waterfalls
March 18 (Monday)
Round 1 CAT-e-GORY
March 19 (Thursday)
Round 1 TAG-TEAM
March 21 (Thursday)
Round 2 JJ & WF
March 25 (Monday)
Round 2 TT & CeG
March 26 (Tuesday)
March 28 (Thursday)
April 1 (Monday)
April 3 (Wednesday)
Drs. Gatlin and Sink and other Aquacultural Research and Teaching Facility (ARTF) representatives were invited to this year’s TPWD Inland Hatchery Annual Production meeting held in Bandera, Texas on February 12-14. Brian Ray, ARTF Research Associate, presented an overview of research being done at the ARTF. Together, they reviewed current projects between the two work groups and discussed potential collaborations that would assist TPWD hatcheries in their production efforts.
The ShareLunker Program that is advertised in the photo above is an effort by TPWD to improve the genetics in Texas’ largemouth bass population.
To see more about what the Aquacultural Research and Teaching Facility entails, head over to the ARTF 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.
Writer: Laura Muntean, 979-847-9211, email@example.com
Contact: Allison Kohler, 612-814-1230, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – The North American flying squirrel fluoresces pink at night under ultraviolet light, but the purpose of the pink color is still a mystery to researchers.
Allison Kohler, a graduate student in the Texas A&M University wildlife and fisheries department in College Station, helped make this discovery as well as affirm other flying squirrels do in fact fluoresce pink. More information can be found at http://bit.ly/FlyingPinkSquirrels.
Kohler’s undergraduate professor Dr. Jon Martin, associate professor of forestry at Northland College in Wisconsin, was doing an exploratory forest survey with an ultraviolet flashlight in his backyard. Initially, he was looking at different lichens, mosses and plants to see what fluoresced. By chance, a flying squirrel happened to be at his bird feeder. When he saw it under the ultraviolet light, it was hot pink.
A team to investigate this discovery was formed and included Martin, Kohler and two of Martin’s colleagues at Northland College: Dr. Paula Anich, associate professor of natural resources, and Dr. Erik Olson, assistant professor of natural resources.
With access to a museum collection at the Minnesota Science Museum, Martin asked Kohler to take the lead on the project and develop a protocol to help further investigate exactly what it was they had found.
“I looked at a ton of different specimens that they had there,” Kohler said. “They were stuffed flying squirrels that they had collected over time, and every single one that I saw fluoresced hot pink in some intensity or another.”
In order to expand the search, the team went to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and gathered more specimens. In all, they researched over 100 specimens ranging across numerous states, all confirming their “pink theory.” They also looked at five additional live specimens.
“We tested all three of the North American flying squirrel species: the Northern flying squirrel, the Southern flying squirrel and the Humboldt’s flying squirrel, and all three of them fluoresced,” she said.
After comparing the flying species to other squirrels, like the American red squirrel and gray squirrel, the team found that the pink color is unique to the flying squirrel.
The reasons for the squirrels to fluoresce pink is still under investigation, but communication and camouflage are two top contenders for why this might be happening, the team has hypothesized.
“They could be communicating with members of their own species by showing off their fluorescence to each other, or it might be a sort of mating display,” Kohler said. “The other hypothesis is that they could be using this fluorescence as an anti-predator trait to communicate with other species, avoiding predation by other species by blending in or dealing with their potentially ultraviolet-saturated environments.”
As the research develops, she said, the importance of this find will present itself more clearly. Kohler plans to continue her research while pursuing her master’s degree at Texas A&M. Further research will look firmly at the implications of the team’s find.
“It could potentially help with the conservation of the species or other species, and it could also relate to wildlife management,” Kohler said. “The more that we know about the species, the more we can understand it and help it. This is opening a new door to the realm of nocturnal-crepuscular, or active during twilight, communication in animals.”
The post Think Pink: Texas A&M student aids in discovery of fluorescent pink flying squirrel appeared first on AgriLife Today.
New research estimates species’ niche by treating above, below taxonomic levels
Contacts: Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan “Rose” Wang, 979-845-5702, email@example.com
Dr. Adam Smith, 314-577-9473 ext. 6314, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Endangered and invasive species may be better managed in the future with new techniques outlined by a Texas A&M University scientist and others.
Texas A&M department of wildlife and fisheries research scientist Dr. Hsiao-Hsuan “Rose” Wang and four international researchers teamed up during the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis to publish an article in Trends in Ecology & Evolution highlighting “Niche Estimation Above and Below the Species Level.”
The “ecological niche” describes how an organism or population responds to its habitat and its distribution of resources and competitors, and in turn, how it alters those same factors.
Reaching beyond the species level would assist in introducing endangered species to habitats beyond their normal realms, Wang said. This could provide an opportunity to conduct field surveys and/or implement endangered species restoration and reallocation plans. And with invasive species introductions, vulnerable habitats could be identified for control and prevention strategies.
Wang focuses on the application of techniques in endangered species management, management of invasive species and vectors of emerging diseases.
“For example, my colleagues and I have estimated the niches of an endangered species, Navasota Ladies’ Tresses; a native and economic species, Loblolly pine; and an invasive species, Chinese tallow tree,” Wang said. “Ideally, we should estimate a species’ niche/range by considering information above or below its taxonomic level.”
“Many ecologists have been trying to estimate where a species can sustain itself under climate change,” Wang said.
“Ecological niche models (ENMs) and species distribution models (SDMs) are two of the most popular tools in ecology and evolution used to address diverse research questions such as niche evolution and conservatism, invasion and extinction risk, and impacts of climate change on species distributions,” said Dr. Adam Smith, ecologist, Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri.
“For example, if we could preserve some habitats for Navasota Ladies’ Tresses where the results of ENMs/SDMs suggest good locations, we potentially could reallocate some Navasota Ladies’ Tresses there,” Wang said. “Also, we could use some future climate or urban sprawl scenarios in ENMs/SDMs to see the potential decrease of Navasota Ladies’ Tresses habitat.”
In the study, http://bit.ly/NicheEstimationAboveBelowSpeciesLevel, three strategies were reviewed for incorporating evolutionary information into niche models.
“We hope the approaches we reviewed become adopted by the conservation community because it will help them design better conservation plans,” said Smith.
With ENMs and SDMs popularity, one of the assumptions is that the species have the same responses to the environment in different locations, noted Wang.
“Unfortunately, it is not always true, especially for invasive species,” she said. “Therefore, my coauthors and I hope this collaborative work will provide guidance on which modeling strategy is appropriate under a range of ecological and evolutionary scenarios.”
This research was conducted by three different researchers along with Smith and Wang from around the world including:
- Dr. William Godsoe, senior lecturer in community ecology, BioProtection Research Centre, Lincoln University, New Zealand.
- Dr. Francisco Rodríguez-Sánchez, postdoctoral researcher at Estación Biológica de Doñana, Spain.
- Dr. Dan Warren, senior scientist, Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Germany; and visiting scientist at Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.
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- Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, email@example.com
- Contact: Dr. Todd Sink, 979-845-7471, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Consumer trends continue to drive an industry change from traditional aquaculture species like catfish to higher value species including redfish and hybrid striped bass, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. Todd Sink, AgriLife Extension aquaculture and fisheries specialist, College Station, said catfish, a longtime staple for Texas fish production, has experienced a recent decline in pricing and popularity, causing producers to look at other options.
Catfish prices were around 93 cents per pound compared to the high of $1.35 per pound two years ago. As a result, discerning U.S. consumers are buying less catfish as household wealth and expendable income increase and because other options in the market are perceived as higher quality. Those include salmon, redfish and hybrid striped bass, which are a cross between white and striped bass, he said.
Sink said poor prices and consumer trends have some catfish producers switching at least a portion of production to other species like redfish and hybrid striped bass, which bring higher prices – $3-$3.30 per pound and $3.30-$3.60 per pound respectively – and are experiencing increased demand.
“It’s fairly clear that consumer tastes are changing from what is perceived as lower-quality fish to higher-end, higher-value fish,” he said. “The cyclical movement on catfish has been downward for a while, so you have a lot of producers looking to diversify with other options that are trending upward in both price and consumer demand.”
Redfish and hybrid striped bass can handle a range of salinity levels. Bass prefer fresh water to 10 parts per thousand salinity, while redfish are typically produced at five parts per thousand to full-strength seawater.
Redfish growth rate stalls when waters are 50 degrees or below, and freezing waters can cause die-offs without proper management, which limits production to warmer climates, Sink said. Hybrid striped bass are more tolerant of cool waters and are grown throughout the U.S., although their growth rate can also decrease drastically below 50 degrees.
Catfish production densities in Texas are around 12,000 pounds of fish per acre compared to 6,500 pounds of hybrid striped bass per acre and up to 8,000 pounds of redfish per acre, Sink said.
Texas is the No. 1 producer of redfish and hybrid striped bass, including around 98 percent of the nation’s redfish production and more than half of hybrid striped bass, Sink said. Established producers continue to expand their capacity to meet demand.
It’s difficult to ascertain redfish and hybrid striped bass production levels because U.S. Department of Agriculture census reports are infrequent, but Sink estimates Texas produces up to 2.7 million pounds of bass and 2.3 million pounds of redfish annually based on their 2013 report and farm expansions since that time.
By comparison, Texas ranks No. 4 in U.S. catfish production with 18.9 million pounds per year.
Several farms are expanding redfish production across Texas with one currently adding 200 acres of production capacity to its operation, which represents a 30 percent increase in overall production, Sink said. Hybrid striped bass production has been expanding at a 3-5 percent rate annually in Texas and southeastern states.
“We don’t expect to see any slowdown in the expansion of both the market and production to meet that market demand over the next five to 10 years,” Sink said. “They’re expanding as they can to supply consumers in a market that is just starting to take off.”
Sink said 90 percent of Texas’ hybrid striped bass production serves demand from high-end restaurants on East and West coasts, while nearly all of the state’s redfish production serves restaurants in large cities such as New Orleans and Houston.
“Producers are getting a premium price for their product, many farms are looking to expand, and some restaurants are operating their own farms just to ensure they can supply their consumer demand,” he said. “Right now they are serving niche markets, so there is room and reason to expand.”
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