A Toolkit for Gulf Restoration
Scientists in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center have collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a toolkit to make planning strategic conservation across the Gulf much easier. Dr. Kristine Evans, an FWRC scientist in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture is developing tools that estimate the environmental benefits of a proposed project in order to help researchers, states, and agencies better plan and fund land conservation projects along the Gulf.
Research Designed to Create Beneficial Dynamics Between Lake Management and Water Regimes
Dr. Mike Colvin, associate professor, DR. J. Brian Davis, James C. Kennedy Endowed Associate Professor in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation, and their team of graduate students in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, are assessing the impact of management practices on fisheries, birds, and plant communities in Bluff Lake and creating a model to assist managers in making scientifically informed decisions as water levels expand and recede. One part of the study looked at how common sportfish respond to drastic changes in water volume and how those changes affect fishing in those waters.
They also looked at how drawdowns, a management practice conducted to encourage growth of plants that feed ducks and birds, affects fish communities. After three years of research, the team designed a model that adequately quantifies possible outcomes of water level fluctuations and assesses benefits of various water level management decisions, taking into consideration the impact on wildlife and fishing conditions.
Increasing Habitats for Southeastern Birds and Trees
Wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major and undergraduate researcher Kim Lowery has been developing her research skills working on two projects: one studying ways to improve pollinator populations across the Black Prairie Belt region and also assisting on a project studying how Bachman's sparrows and other birds use the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. Lowery and the pollinator team assessed the establishment rates of 30 recommended pollinator species at experimental plots in Clay County, Mississippi from 2018 to 2020 and studied how they responded to prescribed fires. The information from this project will help develop and target regionally effective seed mixes, and the team's work is being submitted to peer-review publications. For the Bachman's sparrow project, Lowery assisted graduate student Holly Todaro in her study of habitat selection for these quickly declining songbirds.
Lowery said that there isn't much knowledge about how these birds use the resources in their chosen open-canopy pine forest habitats, so the knowledge gained will help inform better habitat management recommendations for the species.