Southeastern Naturalist

Published by Eagle Hill Institute
Online ISSN: 1938-5412
Print ISSN: 1528-7092
Recent observations of Neotropic Cormorants on the alluvial plain of Mississippi. A = adult, S = subadult, and J = juvenile. 
Locations within the Mississippi alluvial plain (Delta region) where Neotropic Cormorants have been observed (2003–2008). Triangles represent colonial waterbird breeding colonies. Circles represent Channel Catfi sh aquaculture pond.  
Phalacrocorax brasilianus (Neotropic Cormorant) has been observed with increasing frequency in the alluvial plain (Delta region) of Mississippi. In the past 6 years, 22 individuals have been observed in 20 separate sightings during spring and summer. These sightings have occurred at breeding colonies of other colonial waterbirds and commercial aquaculture facilities of Ictalurus punctatus (Channel Catfish). Two sexually mature Neotropic Cormorants have been collected at a colonial waterbird breeding colony near the Mississippi River in the western Delta region among flocks of Phalacrocorax auritus (Double-crested Cormorants). Twice during the summer of 2008, confirmed nesting of Neotropic Cormorants were documented in the Delta region of Mississippi. The increased abundance and range expansion of Neotropic Cormorants in the Delta region of Mississippi may be a result of the readily available food source of cultured Channel Catfish.
A: Ventral view of live animal, slightly squeezed. Proboscis (pr), mouth opening (mo), pharynx (ph) with anterior glandular margin (gm), testes (t) and two belts of adhesive papillae (ad) can be seen. B: Lateral view of anterior end of preserved animal, showing pigment-cup eye (e), muscular proboscis lobes (pl) and attached hooks (h). Each "hook" is actually a pair of left and right hooks superimposed on each other in plane of the photograph. C and D: Camera lucida drawings of the proboscis hooks in largely lateral view (c) and oblique ventral view (d), from resin-embedded wholemounts. Dorsal (d) and ventral (v) proboscis lobes are labeled. Anterior end is to the top right; E: Genital region of mature specimen, heavily squeezed. Muscular penis with internal tubular stylet (ps) protrudes into common genital atrium (ga), which is surrounded by a prominent glandular ring (gr) about halfway along its length. Eosinophilic glands (eg) are located in the parenchyma dorsally to and posterior to the common genital atrium. Also visible: Granular secretions inside copulatory bulb (cb), weakly-ciliated vagina interna (vi), unpaired germarium (ge) and bursa with foreign sperm (b). Anterior to the top.
A: Habitus, from freehand sketch; B: Partial CLSM stack of the anterior end, lateral view of specimen rolled slightly to the dorsal side, stained for actin to show musculature and for DNA to show nuclei. Anterior end to the right. Musculature around mouth (mo) and pharyngeal cavity (pc) are shown. Note fine striated muscle fibers making up post-cerebral septum (arrows), striated diagonal musculature in body wall (dm), fine circular muscles of post-rostral bulb (prb) and dorsolateral (dl) and ventrolateral (vl) anterior retractor muscles.; C: Dorsal reconstruction of whole specimen showing position of major organs. Note copulatory bulb (cb), and that bursa (b), vagina interna (vi) and germarium (ge) are embedded in bursal tissue (bt). Other abbreviations as in previous figures; D: Sagittal section through pharynx; anterior end to the left. Ciliated pharyngeal cavity (pc) enters from left; pharyngeal lumen (lu) at center. Note regionation of pharynx (marked by arrows), characterized by changes in the diameter of the inner circular muscles (icm) and width and spacing of the radial muscle bundles (rm); E: Partial CLSM stack, slightly oblique ventral view with anterior end to the left. Ventral mid-line toward the bottom of the figure. Note band-like muscle fibers surrounding seminal vesicles (sv-right seminal vesicle shown in two places) and copulatory bulb (cb). Genital atrium (ga) possesses circular muscle in its distal-most region (right-hand line) and longitudinal muscle alone more proximally (lefthand line). Vagina interna (vi) arises at anterior face of genital atrium (ga-arrow) and continues posteriorly (lines-ventral-most portion not in figure), ultimately giving rise to paired muscular canals (arrows) that connect to bursa; F: Reconstruction of the genital
As with other high-energy beaches, those of North Carolina harbor a diverse fauna of kalyptorhynch turbellarians, and most appear to be new to science. Here, we describe Lehardyia alleithoros, a new kalyptorhynch turbellarian of the Karkinorhynchidae, from 3 high-energy beach sites in North Carolina. We also report an apparent range extension for Carcharodorhynchus flavidusBrunet, 1967. These observations bring the total number of kalyptorhynch turbellarians reported from the marine interstitial environment of North Carolina to five.
Site characteristics measured in 0.1-ha plots surrounding roost snags of male Big Brown Bats and random snags in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, 2000-2005.
Characteristics of roost snags used by male (n = 25) and female (n = 9) Big Brown Bats and comparisons with random snags in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas during sum- mer, 2000-2005.
Although Eptesicus fuscus (Big Brown Bat) has been widely studied, information on tree-roosting in forests by males is rare, and little information is available on tree roosting in the southeastern United States. Our objectives were to characterize diurnal summer roosts, primarily for male Big Brown Bats, and to determine relationships between forest structure and roost selection. We quantified 25 male roosts located via radiotelemetry, and describe an additional 9 maternity roosts for females. All roosts for both sexes were in Pinus echinata (Shortleaf Pine) snags, and 82% of roost snags were 15-25 cm diameter at breast height (dbh). Most (94%) roosts for both sexes were under loose bark. A logistic regression model differentiating male roost sites from random locations indicated males were more likely to roost in recently thinned, open-forest conditions (less canopy cover, more cut stumps, and fewer under-story stems) that contained abundant overstory pines >or= 25 cm dbh and abundant snags. Males roosted primarily (84%) in stands that had recently undergone partial harvesting. Maintaining a supply of pine snags >or= 15 cm dbh in relatively open forest habitats, including areas undergoing partial harvest, would provide roosting habitat for male Big Brown Bats in the Ouachita Mountains.
We monitored the breeding performance (territory occupancy, nest success, productivity) of a reintroduced hybrid population of Falco peregrinus anatum (Peregrine Falcon) in western North Carolina during the 13-y post-delisting period of 2003–2015. Peregrine Falcons nested at 18 sites (17 cliffs, 1 building), 6 of which were newly discovered sites. Eight to 13 territories were occupied annually. We documented 139 nesting attempts and production of 171 young. Mean nest success (55%) during the period 2003–2015 fell below the 1999–2002 national average, but was more than double earlier (1987–1992) efforts in western North Carolina. Likewise, mean productivity (1.23 young/year/pair) was more than double earlier efforts in North Carolina, but reflects the disproportionately high contribution of ~5 sites. Throughout the study, subadult birds were members of a pair (13.7% of nesting attempts) and had lower nest success than adult pairs. High variability in nest success and productivity underscore the need for continued monitoring and protection from disturbance and other threats, especially at the most vulnerable and least productive sites.
Salvator merianae (Argentine Giant Tegu) is an invasive exotic species established in 2 as yet unconnected populations in central and southern Florida. Despite intense trapping, this mid-level carnivore remains well-established in a portion of extreme southern mainland Florida where it was first released 20 y ago. High fecundity, nest-guarding, rapid growth to large body size, and broad trophic width by which it negatively impacts wildlife contribute to its success as a colonizing species. Native to more temperate habitat, it experiences a defined winter and summer in South America unlike the wet–dry seasons of southern Florida. We conducted a qualitative comparison of key life-history traits from source areas to those of southern Florida that provided a measure of its ecological plasticity and formed the basis for expectations associated with northward expansion. Our examination of 1168 specimens collected during 2011–2017 revealed an overlap between the sexes in timing of fat storage prior to brumation and late-winter–early-spring peak in gonadal size. Females were ovigerous during March–May and possibly June, and clutch size averaged 28.6 eggs. Hatching was possible during May–August, and both sexes reached sexual maturity by 2 y of age. In this subtropical system, length of seasonal activity, gonadal cycles, and size and age at sexual maturity differed from those of source areas, indicative of the degree of plasticity among these traits over a short period of time. We found that the climate of the Southeast is amenable to the colonization of this vagile species. Our findings are suggestive that a return to the strongly selected seasonal activity and gonadal cycles of central Argentina will accompany the Argentine Giant Tegu in its northward dispersal into more temperate conditions even as it retains a somewhat relaxed cycle in southern Florida.
The cosmopolitan lizard genus Eumeces was first revised in 1936 and consisted of 15 species-groups comprising a total of 50 species. Nine species in North America were later recognized as belonging to the genus Plestiodon and all contained the diploid chromosome number of 26. Modern cladistic techniques indicated that Plestiodon anthracinus (Coal Skink) was near the ancestral form for the fasciatus group. We employed the hypotonic citrate method to study chromosomes of 5 Coal Skink specimens from Louisiana and Arkansas and found them to have a diploid number of 24 (12 macrochromosomes, 12 distinctly smaller chromosomes, all biarmed) and a fundamental number of 48. The diploid number of 24 is probably derived by some chromosome rearrangements in the evolution of Plestiodon and of the Plestiodon anthracinus group.
An adult Deinopis spinosa, Liberty County, FL. Photograph © Daniel D. Dye.
The range of Deinopis spinosa in the southeastern US. The overall range is shaded. Solid symbols represent localities supported by museum specimens, hollow symbols are observations supported by photographs, "?" is a recent credible sighting reported to the authors. Note: we have only mapped records for extreme northern Florida and for states north of Florida (D. spinosa occurs statewide in Florida [Marshall and Edwards 1981]).
The ogre-faced spider Deinopis spinosa is the sole representative of the family Deinopidae in the US. Museum records suggest this species is restricted to the extreme southeastern US (Alabama and Florida) and Jamaica. Through nocturnal surveys and records from naturalist-oriented internet sites, we have discovered that this species is more widely distributed in the Coastal Plain region of the southeastern US. Herein, we document new state records for Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas, significantly expanding the known range of the species. It is unknown whether these records represent a recent range expansion or if the spider has historically been overlooked due to its cryptic nature and habits.
This study focused on the ecology of the trapdoor spider Myrmekiaphila comstocki in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas in order to better understand the microhabitat of the burrows and the activity season of this species. I studied a population of 56 individually marked burrows during 2003-2009 at the Ouachita Mountains Biological Station. I recorded the surface structure of the burrows, temperatures, burrow depth, microhabitat around the burrow, and the facing direction of the trapdoor relative to the surrounding terrain. Spiders were active in all seasons and at ground surface temperatures that were below freezing; however, the bottoms of the burrows were never below freezing. Burrow diameters change over time, apparently due to the growth of the spider as the burrow widths appear to be correlated to the size of the spider inhabitants. The burrows were 60-330 mm deep and were open 25% of the time. Larger burrows were destroyed (by possible predation or other physical damage) more often than were smaller burrows. The population density in the area studied was 366 burrows per hectare.
Data from recently discovered daily-work logs of US Forest Service (USFS) researcher Russell R. Reynolds enabled me to clarify a study I published a decade ago on a 1930s-vintage unmanaged, second-growth Pinus (pine)—hardwood stand in southeastern Arkansas. Though still too vague to reveal every detail, Reynolds' work logs confirmed a number of assumptions in the original paper and provided me with the background information to herein describe a more precise sampling framework for this 1930s-era study plot.
In 1933, during the first 90 days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's term, Congress passed the Emergency Conservation Work Act, which established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Parts of Tucker County, WV, are located in the Monongahela National Forest, where the US Forest Service operated 3 CCC camps between 1933 and 1942 in the towns of Parsons, Dry Fork, and Lead Mine. In this paper, I present a history of the CCC in the Canaan Valley region and discuss some of the its achievements.
Branchiobdellidans, or crayfish worms, are species-rich in the Appalachian area of the southeastern United States. Even so, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) in the southern Appalachians has only one record of a branchiobdellidan species. As part of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, we undertook a general survey of the branchiobdellidans in the GSMNP. Crayfish were collected from a total of 15 sites distributed across 11 watersheds in the GSMNP. We identified a total of 10 species of branchiobdellidans: 1 species of Bdellodrilus, 1 species of Oedipodrilus, 2 species of Pterodrilus, 1 species of Xironodrilus, and 5 species of Cambarincola. The composition and number of species per site ranged from 0 to 6, and individual branchiobdellidan species occurrence ranged from 1 to 11 sites. Our results suggest that multiple factors affect distribution and occurrence on certain hosts. Study of specimens of Cambarincola holostomus Hoffman, 1963 enabled us to add new morphological characters to the description of this species. An intensive survey of watersheds and crayfish fauna in the GSMNP is necessary to understand the multiple factors affecting species distributions and host preferences and to facilitate conservation of both the symbionts and their hosts.
We used Landsat satellite imagery to monitor forest-landscape change within a 4-county area (Angelina, Nacogdoches, San Augustin, and Shelby) in East Texas. We consulted images from the Multispectral Scanner (60-m resolution), Thematic Mapper (30-m resolution), and Thematic Mapper Plus (30-m resolution) from 1974, 1980, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. We classified each image into 1 of 2 land-cover types: forest and non-forest. For data-quality assurance, we assessed 2 of the classified maps for accuracy. We assessed accuracy of the 2002 land-cover map using field validation (overall map accuracy of 98.46%), and the 2009 land-cover map using National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) 2009 aerial photos as a reference (overall map accuracy of 90.77%). To determine forest contagion and fragmentation and their effects on the local landscape, we calculated landscape metrics including PPU (patch per unit) and SqP (square pixel) based on landscape patches identified within each classified map. Results of the 12 classified maps showed a trend of forest-area increase from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Although this East Texas region supports large and small forest stands, we observed habitat fragmentation on non-forest lands; both the total number of patches and total perimeter increased, resulting in smaller patch-size and greater shape complexity on non-forest lands. These changes are influencing timber production and socioeconomic activities in the area, as well as the plant community, wildlife habitat, and water resources of the entire ecosystem.
From 1979 through 1993, we surveyed the waterfowl of Canaan Valley by using vantage-point, helicopter, and canoe surveys. We conducted monthly vantage-point surveys from April through November at four sites, we completed monthly canoe surveys during May-July along a 10-mi (16-km) segment of the Blackwater River, and we conducted helicopter surveys covering all of the Valley's drainages in May, August, and November. The most abundant species of waterfowl were the Branta canadensis (Canada Goose), Anas platyrhynchos (Mallard), Aix sponsa (Wood Duck), and Anas rubripes (American Black Duck). Thirteen other duck species were sighted, most of which were recorded during the November helicopter surveys. Of the several species of wading birds observed, the most abundant were Ardea herodias (Great Blue Heron) and Butorides virescens (Green Heron).
On 20 January 1990, twenty-three Tursiops truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin) carcasses were found scattered around the interior shoreline of East Matagorda Bay, TX. Few accounts exist to document the presence of live or dead Common Bottlenose Dolphins inside the boundaries of East Matagorda Bay before or after the die-off. We conducted a review of areal data for East Matagorda Bay and the original investigation of the January 1990 mass die-off. Information we examined included the history of natural and anthropogenic changes to the area, dolphin stranding records, small-boat visual surveys, and dolphin dorsal-fin photographic identification. Natural events preceding the discovery of the dolphin carcasses were likely factors in the mortalities; however, the timing of engineering projects that modified access points between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico may be an additional factor that contributed to the cause of this unusual mortality event.
Vallisneria americana (Tape-grass) in the lower St. Johns River, FL, is exposed to variability in salinity and turbidity. From 2002 to 2011, we compared mean blade length, plant depth, and bed width between residential and natural shorelines, the western and eastern sides, and river sections of 64-80 km, 81-96 km, and 97-112 km from the river mouth. Leaf blades of eastern plants were 27.0 cm longer and were found in 0.57 m greater depths, a pattern possibly related to seasonal westerly winds. We observed no differences with land use. Blades were 20.0 cm longer in the farthest section where salinity concentrations were 1.35 ppt lower than in the 64-80 km section. Following hurricanes, resilience depended on pre-storm bed health and post-storm water quality.
Documented summer locations of Gray Bats in southwestern Virginia, ca. 1990-2014. Reported are county and watershed, type of occurrence (if known), and number of bats observed or estimated. * indicates that small numbers (<10 individuals) of Gray Bats have been found during winter months. With the exception of mist-netting captures, site names have been omitted to protect the exact location of the federally endangered bats on private lands. 
Results of general linear mixed models, examining trends in body mass index values for age/ sex combinations of Gray Bats in southwestern Virginia. Models examined differences across years (2010-2014), capture sites, and the year-site interaction. 
Myotis grisescens (Gray Bat) is a federally endangered species distributed over the mid-South with a summer range that extends across the upper Tennessee River Basin, including southwest Virginia. Given the onset of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in the Commonwealth in the winter of 2009, we initiated yearly surveys in late summer 2009 to monitor the status of known summer populations. Our objectives were to examine the relative health of these bats using body mass index (BMI), and determine any changes in juvenile recruitment across sites and years. We did not find any marked changes in BMI across years after WNS for Gray Bats. This finding suggests that surviving bats are either not negatively impacted by WNS or have recovered sufficiently by late summer as to not document obvious differences across years. After limiting our analyses of juvenile recruitment to only the individuals that we had definitively aged via backlit photos (2010–2014), we found a non-significant declining trend in juvenile recruitment; a trend that merits continued monitoring in the years to come. As Gray Bats have only recently shown to be susceptible to WNS infection, it is possible that observable population declines are forthcoming.
Study area used to develop seasonal spatial distribution models for Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) within the Mississippi Sound. Survey strata are numbered 1-7 and transects are labeled A-D. 
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) density (Dolphins/km 2 ) in the Mississippi Sound among seasons of the year from 2011/12 to 2013. The error bars on each estimate are 95% confidence intervals around the mean. 
Dolphin density (Dolphins/km 2 ) among survey strata for each survey season from 2011/12 to 2013. Survey strata are numbered 1-7 from the western portion of the Mississippi Sound in Lake Borgne, LA to the Mississippi-Alabama state border in the east. The error bars on each estimate are 95% confidence intervals around the mean. 
We conducted vessel-based line-transect sampling from December 2011 to November 2013 to quantify Tursiops truncatus (Bottlenose Dolphin) density over 8 consecutive seasons in the Mississippi Sound. Density estimates showed temporal variation ranging from 0.27 Dolphins/km2 (CV% = 31.3) in spring 2013 to 1.12 Dolphins/km2 (CV% = 21.6) in spring 2012. Density in winter and summer was stable compared to fall and spring, which fluctuated across years. We also noted spatial variation-density was commonly highest in the central and eastern portions of the Mississippi Sound. Spatial and temporal variation in temperature and salinity were potentially driving shifts in Bottlenose Dolphin density. Additional regularly collected density estimates using standardized protocols are needed in order to draw more definitive conclusions regarding the status and trend of this population.
US Army Corps of Engineers Natural Resource Specialist, Bill Maus, holding Paddlefish entrained at Bonnet Carré Spillway in Louisiana, 23 Jun 2011. Inset shows ventral view of rostrum. Note slimness of fish, lacerations on body, frayed fins, and erosion at tip of rostrum.  
We observed a large adult Paddlefish entrained from the Mississippi River through the Bonnet Cane spillway, south Louisiana, which was injured and underweight. We captured, measured (23 metrics), and tagged the fish. After it had spent a week at large on the fioodway, we recaptured and released it back into the Mississippi River. The specimen was re-captured eight months later in northern Mississippi, 627 km upriver from where it was released. Distance traveled and water velocities in the river indicate that the fish was traveling at least 90-197 cm/s for prolonged periods, equivalent to gross speeds of 77-170 km/d. This incident suggests that a large entrained fish, trapped for several days in a hyperthermic and hypoxic habitat, can be viable when returned to the river. It also demonstrated that rescue efforts could reduce impacts of spillway operations to fish populations, and that comprehensive field assessment of fish morphology can be benign to fish.
The 2013 Python Challenge® provided an opportunity to learn more about the ecology and management of Python molorus bivittatus (Burmese Python). Goals of the 2013 Python Challenge were to raise awareness about Burmese Pythons, remove pythons, increase public participation and agency cooperation in removal and reporting of pythons, increase knowledge of python ecology, and examine effectiveness of incentives to increase public participation in invasive wildlife management. Over 1500 participants registered for the competition. Sixty-eight Burmese Pythons were removed during the Challenge. Thirteen females (19%), 54 males (79%), and 1 young-of-the-year (1%) python of undetermined sex were captured. More pythons-73 (68 from the Challenge and 5 incidental)-were removed during the 2013 Python Challenge period than during similar time periods during 2008-2012. We found no evidence of unintended consequences such as removal of native species. We identified 13 prey species: 6 mammals (46%), 6 birds (46%), and 1 alligator (8%). The potential of recreational-harvest incentive programs to impact python populations is uncertain. Incentive programs are potential tools in invasive-species management programs, but they should be managed diligently and evaluated for effectiveness.
The 1288-km2 Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the Park) is one of the largest protected temperate forest ecosystems east of the Rocky Mountains. Because of its global ecological importance, the Park was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site in 1983. The Park's rich biodiversity is the result of a deeply dissected landscape ranging in elevation from 259 m (850 ft) to 2026 m (6643 ft), high primary productivity, and diverse plant communities. These conditions, and the occurrence of several species at or near their southern range limit, favor high mammal diversity in the Park. Herein, I present the first comprehensive update on the Park's mammals in over 20 years. Since that 1995 publication, several new species have been recorded, additional distribution and other ecological data collected, 3 reintroductions (2 successful, 1 unsuccessful) transpired, and numerous taxonomic revisions have occurred. To the extent that data is available, the distribution, food, reproduction, pelage, hibernation, predation, parasites, measurements, and location of specimens are given for all 68 mammals in the Park. Four additional mammal species are listed as “probable” based on their known distribution in regions surrounding the Park. The Literature Cited along with the additional listed references provided in Appendix 1 together comprise the most complete bibliography ever assembled relating to mammals found in the Park.
Macrochelys temminckii (Alligator Snapping Turtle) was petitioned for federal listing as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2012 as a result of population declines attributable in part to harvest for human consumption. The species was listed as threatened in 1992 in Georgia, where all harvest of the species was closed. Because little is known about how Alligator Snapping Turtle populations respond to protection, we surveyed Georgia's Flint River, which had originally been surveyed in 1989, to assess whether abundance of Alligator Snapping Turtles increased following close of commercial harvest. Our survey, conducted in 2014 and 2015 yielded captures of 52 Alligator Snapping Turtles with an overall catch per unit effort (CPUE) of 0.09 turtles/trap-night, as compared to 62 captures and a CPUE of 0.08 turtles/trap-night in the 1989 survey. Although CPUE was similar between the two studies, we observed differences among the lower, middle, and upper reaches of the river; CPUE increased in the lower reach, decreased slightly in the middle reach, and remained the same in the upper reach of the Flint River. Mean size (carapace length) of Alligator Snapping Turtles did not differ between the 2 surveys, but in 2014-2015 we caught nearly twice as many immature (<40 cm carapace length) turtles as adult males and females, and the highest proportion of immature turtles was captured in the upper reach. Our findings suggest that the Alligator Snapping Turtle population in the Flint River has not increased despite 22 years of protection from commercial harvest. Recovery may be hampered by life-history characteristics of the species including delayed maturity and low reproductive output; however, we cannot rule out possible ongoing mortality of Alligator Snapping Turtles from illegal harvest or drowning on abandoned limb lines, as has been observed in other populations.
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is a 57-ha preserve in the piedmont of North Carolina. A small disjunct Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) population exists in the preserve, primarily within a microclimate on a north-facing bluff. A study published in 1956 included a 1952–1953 inventory of the hemlock population as well as records of the local flora and climate. We re-inventoried the Eastern Hemlock population, conducted a new floristic survey, and recorded new climate data in the preserve in 2018–2019. Our new data reveal a notable change in both the Eastern Hemlock population and preserve-wide stand structure. Only 2% average light transmittance through the canopy was recorded in the preserve in the 2019 growing season, compared to 11% in the 1953 growing season (P = 0.02). At least 7 plant taxa underwent notable shifts in distribution, mostly moving down-slope on the bluff face. Average ambient air temperatures on the bluff were 1.62 °C higher in 2018–2019 than in 1952–1953. Canopy closure, inbreeding depression, increased temperatures, erosion, and browsing by Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) all likely contribute to low Eastern Hemlock seed germination and high seedling mortality within the preserve. These factors may also partially account for observed shifts in floristic distribution. In addition to mortality caused by Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid), these environmental changes endanger the future viability of this Eastern Hemlock population.
Novel records of stream fishes continue to shape our understanding of species distributions and are often representative of geological and evolutionary histories. We report the discovery of Chrosomus tennesseensis (Tennessee Dace) and confirm previous collections of Etheostoma nigripinne (Blackfin Darter) in the Mobile River Basin. Additionally, we report the rediscovery of Rhinichthys obtusus (Western Blacknose Dace) from the Locust Fork watershed of the Black Warrior River system. The latter species was last collected from the Locust Fork watershed in 1939 and considered extirpated. The discovery of the Tennessee Dace represents the first collection in the Mobile River Basin. These recent collections from the Locust Fork watershed may indicate that a stream-capture event isresponsible for the isolation of these populations from the Tennessee River Basin. Subsequent studies should incorporate population-level genetic analyses coupled with historical geological information to understand how these populations became isolated and how recent stream-capture events could inform our understanding of allopatric speciation in aquatic populations.
Helonias bullata (Swamp Pink) is a federally threatened plant found in many of the wetlands throughout US Army Garrison, Fort A.P. Hill, VA. Wetlands that support Swamp Pink are exposed to periodic occurrences of wildland fire. However, much is not yet known about the relationship between this species and wildland fire. This study examines plant-level characteristics (i.e., number of leaves, rosette size) in relation to habitat-level characteristics through comparison of Swamp Pink under 2 land-management regimes in different military training zones. We evaluated the forest compositional differences based on the presence/absence of wildland fire and military-training zone in wetlands supporting Swamp Pink and in adjacent uplands using non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS), multi-response permutation procedures (MRPP), indicator-species analysis (ISA), and measures of density, dominance, herbaceous cover, and species richness. Swamp Pink rosettes in wetlands exposed to fire were significantly larger and averaged nearly 1 more leaf per rosette as compared to those surveyed in wetlands that were not exposed to fire. There was significantly less upland tree density in burned sites compared to unburned sites. We found no relationship between training zones and Swamp Pink size and the number of leaves. Additional differences in forest composition were revealed by comparing training zone and the presence/absence of wildland fire in conjunction with one another. Compared to other areas, the training zones with lower fire-frequency and recent evidence of fire featured significantly larger rosettes with more leaves. In uplands, overall community composition was significantly different among plots exposed to different fire-management strategies (MRPP; P < 0.05), but no such differences occurred in wetlands (P > 0.05). This finding suggests that wetlands limit the effects of fire on community composition. ISA showed that in both wetlands and uplands, different species characterized areas with differing fire influence, suggesting some influence by wildland fire even when such effects were not reflected in overall changes to community composition. The results of this study, the life-history of Swamp Pink, and the distribution of the species in ecosystems characterized by fire (e.g., the New Jersey Pine Barrens) suggest that Swamp Pink is not negatively impacted by fire to a significant degree. The conservation of the Swamp Pink habitat at Fort A.P. Hill may in fact benefit from periodic occurrences of wildland fire. Further research is warranted.
Soil-horizon depth for center-sampling location of 6 transects, Abes Run wetland, Canaan Valley State Park. 
Average growing-season depth (cm) to water table for the center well of 6 transects (T1-T6) at Abes Run wetland, Canaan Valley State Park. A negative value indicates water table is below the surface. 
Abes Run wetland is a biologically diverse, 82-ac (33-ha) complex of wet meadow, marsh, scrub-shrub, and forested-swamp communities in Canaan Valley, WV. In 2002, we sampled the vegetation in six 65-ft (20-m)-wide transects and identified a total of 179 vascular plant species. We classified 23 species as introduced; 38 occurred at or near the southernmost known limit of their range. Two graminoid-dominated (e.g., Carex spp. [sedges], Leersia spp. [cutgrass], and Scirpus spp. [bulrush]) and forb-dominated (Euthamia spp. [goldenrods]) transects occurred in an area that had been forested and later inundated by Castor canadensis (North American Beaver) in the 1970s. Four transects were mixed-deciduous and coniferous forested-swamp communities. With the exception of transect 5, these sites had an organic horizon that was 32-40-in (80-100-cm) deep in the center, and the water table tended to persist at the wetland surface through the first half of the growing season. The tree stratum was well-developed, although discontinuous, and was dominated by mixtures of Fraxinus nigra (Black Ash), Abies balsamea (Balsam Fir), Picea rubens (Red Spruce), and Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch). A rich shrub layer of Rhamnus alnifolia (Alder-leaved Buckthorn), Ilex verticillata (Winterberry), and Alnus incana ssp. rugosa (Speckled Alder) was also present. The broken overstory created a variable light regime on the wetland floor and as a consequence, there was high diversity of herbaceous plants. Although a rank comparison of 1945 vs. 1997 vegetative-cover classes did not yield any significant differences, we noted 3 trends: 1) North American Beaver activities reduced the area of coniferous swamp forests, 2) wet-graminoid areas increased as beaver dams were abandoned and their impoundments dried, and 3) the extent of scrub-shrub communities increased, particularly in the upper portions of the wetland's drainage.
The Spruce—fir Moss Spider (Microhexura montivaga) is a federally endangered species found only in the high-elevation southern Appalachian spruce—fir forests. Little is known about the basic ecology of the spider. The goal of this project was to determine the temperature and humidity parameters of the microhabitat around known spider locations. iButton temperature and humidity data loggers were placed at sites on Mt. Lyn-Lowry, Browning Knob, Whitetop Mountain, and Mt. Rogers (a range that encompasses all metapopulations). No statistically significant (P > 0.05) differences in humidity between positive and negative presence sites, among metapopulations, or individual sites were found. Temperature data showed varied results. This research provides a number of applications for the conservation and management of the Spruce—fir Moss Spider, such as understanding metapopulation variation, better husbandry techniques, and using collected data to determine conversion factors/models for temperature data between microhabitat measurements and larger-scale measuring methods.
Rhododendron dieback was continuously observed with increasing frequency on Rhododendron maximum (Rosebay Rhododendron) during the last 20 years in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The dieback was especially evident following several years of drought from 2004 to 2008 recorded in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). With the concern that a disease epidemic could occur, a holistic study evaluated site factors including tree health, number of clonal units, aspect, slope, depth to bedrock, and rhizosphere microbes. This study was conducted at two locations: Laurel Falls in GRSM and Albert Mountain in Nantahala National Forest (NNF). Yearly sampling for nematodes showed no differences in frequencies across or between years. A total of 11 species were identified from replicated healthy and dieback plots with no significant trends observed. Criconemella xenophus, Helicotylenchus sp., and Meloidogyne sp. were the species most commonly found. Belonolaimus sp. occurred at the NNF site at below 1% of the total nematode population identified, but this nematode species is considered damaging to crops and forest nursery seedlings even at low numbers. Fungal/Oomycota diversity and densities were determined from roots and rhzosphere soil samples using three identification methods. The results ranged from 110 species of fungi to 0 for Oomycota. Of 110 fungi isolated, one putative root pathogen was identified, and the saprophytic species Mycena silvae-nigrae (unknown Basidiomycota 1) was the most common match using the GenBank database. Elevation at NNF was significantly greater than at GRSM, with significantly greater dieback levels at the higher elevation. Furthermore, greater dieback ratings were associated with significantly greater tree diameters. No trends were observed for percent slope or nutrient levels when compared between healthy and dieback sites or locations. Site factors such as aspect, elevation, associated nematode species, and a putative root pathogen may form a disease complex resulting in Rosebay Rhododendron dieback.
Ecosystems dominated by Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic White Cedar) are critically endangered due to hydrologic alterations associated with ditching, logging, development, and agricultural conversion. Few studies have related structural and functional characteristics of this plant community to water tables, yet hydrologic management options may be critical to establish a peat-based seed refugium and allow Atlantic White Cedar self-maintenance in this ecosystem. In this study, we assessed aboveground forest biomass, litter production, and depth to water table at a mature (60–70 y) and an intermediate (20–35 y) age-class stand in two national wildlife refuges, Alligator River (AR) and Great Dismal Swamp (DS) in North Carolina. We calculated forest biomass from morphometric data gathered within randomized study plots. We made monthly litter collections at each study plot from November 1998 to April 2000; litter was sorted by species and type for the first 12 months. Wells installed at each study plot recorded water-table levels, which were at or near the surface at AR but >30 cm below the soil surface at DS throughout the study. Although Atlantic White Cedar was a dominant species at all sites, community structure differed between refuges. Total aboveground biomass was similar among age classes; however, Atlantic White Cedar stem density was greater and mean diameter at breast height was lower at AR. Mean annual litter production was higher at AR sites for each age class despite a persistently high water table. We conclude that the rates of primary production associated with high water tables at AR represent favorable conditions for Atlantic White Cedar self-maintenance.
In January 2010, we were contracted to collect biological samples from 25 wild Lynx rufus (Bobcat) for felid disease studies. We collected all samples in compliance with state and federal research guidelines on public land within the Puma concolor coryi (Florida Panther) primary range. This area extends south of the Caloosahatchee River to the tip of peninsular Florida. To maximize selectivity and minimize the risk of injury to target and non-target species, we chose hounds trained according to our specific regimen to capture felines and ignore non-target species. We conducted fieldwork from 23 February 2010 to 5 May 2010. During this period, we safely captured 25 Bobcats in 36 d of effort. After we collected biological samples, we marked each Bobcat with a yellow ear-tag to prevent redundant immobilizations. The results of this project demonstrate that specially trained hounds are a safe and selective alternative for the capture of small cats, even in the absence of snow.
Approximate locations for total number (A) and month encountered (B) of adult Cerulean Warblers in North Carolina from 1981-2010 (Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2011, Fiala 2011).
Study area surveyed for Cerulean Warblers along the Roanoke River, NC, from May 12-14 2001, and from May 14-15 and May 28-29 2011.
A segment of the Roanoke River (left) and habitat used by a Cerulean Warbler male (right) near Weldon, NC, May 2011.
Adjusted Ripley's K (L[d]) for Cerulean Warbler distribution along the Roanoke River. Values >0 indicate clumping, values <0 indicate a uniform distribution, and values equal to 0 indicate complete spatial randomness (CSR).
Mean maximum temperature, number of days >35 °C (95 °F), and mean rainfall observed from April-August 2001-2011, at the NC Department of Agriculture's Peanut Belt Research Station in Lewiston, NC (36.13°N, 77.18°W).
Setophaga cerulea (Cerulean Warbler) has been inadequately monitored along the Roanoke River in North Carolina since a breeding population was discovered there in 1972. Our objectives were to estimate the Cerulean Warbler's current population size and distribution along the river, and evaluate landscape habitat characteristics in the Roanoke River Basin among areas used and unused by the same species. In May 2001 and 2011, we surveyed for singing male Cerulean Warblers, primarily by boat, along approximately 160 km of the Roanoke River from Weldon to Williamston in northeast North Carolina. We found Cerulean Warblers in three distinct groups along the Roanoke River during both survey years; however, we detected at least 32.4% fewer males in 2011 (n = 23) than in 2001 (n = 34). The landscape within 500 in of areas used by Cerulean Warblers had significanlty less crop cover, blackwater floodplain (i.e., swamp) forest, and variation in mean canopy height than unused landscapes we surveyed. These same differences existed at distances up to 1 km, but several additional dissimilarities became evident at this scale, including presence of more evergreen plantations and a greater fragmentation of the dominant forested land cover at used versus unused landscapes. We recommend continued monitoring of the Cerulean Warbler along the Roanoke River, increased habitat protection, and encourage an in-depth investigation into management strategies to sustain this population.
Because of its widespread distribution, Pueraria montana var. lobata (Kudzu) is one of the most common invasive species management concerns in the Southeast. Nonetheless, there are few quantitative data documenting its effects on native species. This study examines the seasonal correlations between Kudzu and avian species diversity and abundance in southeastern Tennessee. By measuring the structure and composition of the overstory, midstory, and understory vegetation at sites with differing levels of Kudzu coverage, we examined correlations between Kudzu density and avian numbers. Kudzu coverage had a significant negative impact on avian diversity (P < 0.001) and species richness (P <0.001). Kudzu's alteration of vegetation structure, through the creation of a monoculture and subsequent reduction of structural diversity, was likely the cause of reduced avian diversity and richness.
The invasive insect pest Adelges tsugae (Hemlock Woolly Adelgid) threatens the ecologically unique Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock)-dominated forest type throughout its range. Relatively little is known about how the loss of this forest type will affect the relative abundance of amphibians. This study assessed the relative abundance of the juvenile phase of Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens (Eastern Red-spotted Newt, Red Eft) in Eastern Hemlock-dominated stands (n = 5) and mixed deciduous stands (n = 5) at Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA, using both transect surveys of the forest floor surface (n = 368 Red Eft observations over four seasons), and intensive searches of quadrats (n = 27 Red Eft observations over two seasons). Using data from transect surveys, the average relative abundance of Red Efts was more than two times greater in Eastern Hemlock-dominated stands than in mixed deciduous stands, however the differences were not statistically significant (P = 0.146). Quadrat surveys yielded relative abundance estimates for Red Efts that were more than 5 times greater in Eastern Hemlock-dominated stands than in mixed deciduous stands, but again the differences were not statistically significant (P = 0.213).
Grassland songbirds have been declining due to loss of habitat. In Canaan Valley, WV, grassland habitats primarily consist of active and idle pastures and hayfields. Our objectives were to document the species of breeding birds that occurred on grasslands of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and evaluate temporal patterns of abundance among months and years. This study took place on 3 idle hayfields and 3 idle pastures in the Refuge during the summers of 1999 and 2000. At the conclusion of the first field season, half of each field was mowed. A total of 28 species-13 in 1999 and 27 in 2000-was documented. Dolichonyx oryzivorus (Bobolink), Sturnella magna (Eastern Meadowlark), Passerculus sandwichensis (Savannah Sparrow), and Agelaius phoeniceus (Red-winged Blackbird) were dominant. Additional species observed included Ammodramus savannarum (Grasshopper Sparrow) and Circus cyaneus (Northern Harrier). Species diversity, species richness, and total bird abundance varied among months (P < 0.05). Densities were higher in July than in May, June, and August; however, total number of birds peaked later in 1999 than in 2000. Species richness and diversity were lower in August than other months. Temporal variations in grassland bird diversity, richness, and abundance were likely influenced by precipitation patterns and land-use practices on and adjacent to the Refuge.
Effect of prescribed burning on Prostigmata. Bars are means at the burned treatment and unburned control sites and represent individual 95% confi dence intervals for geometric mean counts. Bars with the same letter are not signifi cantly different. 
Collembola at burned treatment and unburned control sites. Bars are means combining 2004, 2005, and 2006 data at each site and represent individual 95% confidence intervals for geometric mean counts. Bars with the same letter are not significantly different. 
Abundance of immature oribatids, mature oribatids, and Collembola. Numbers are geo- metric means (GM) of all burned and unburned samples and represent 95% confidence intervals (CI) for geometric mean counts. For each taxon, means with the same letter are not significant- ly different.
We examined the effects of prescribed fire on the abundance of soil microarthropods in a southeastern pine-hardwood forest in northeast Georgia. Using soil cores, the soil microarthropod groups Prostigmata, Oribatida, and Collembola were examined before and after a low-intensity prescribed fire intended for fuels reduction and wildlife habitat improvement. A post-burn evaluation found 100% duff layer coverage and 80% of the understory vegetation consumed. Prostigmata numbers were significantly reduced four months after the burn, with numbers returning to pre-burn levels more than one year later. Although Oribatida and Collembola fluctuated from year to year, we found no significant effects from the burn on those taxa. These results suggest that low-intensity prescribed burning has no lasting negative effects on soil microarthropod populations. The results from this study add to the evidence suggesting the adaptability of southeastern forests to low-intensity prescribed fire.
We analyzed spatiotemporal variations in point counts of Ammodramus savannarum floridanus (Florida Grasshopper Sparrow) at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) during 2003–2012 to provide a detailed report of population changes during that period. There were significant increases in estimates of occupancy probability and abundance of Florida Grasshopper Sparrows at count points in some parts of Three Lakes WMA from 2003 to 2008 followed by significant reductions in these estimates from 2008 to 2012. Inconsistent, finer-scale population fluctuations appeared to be occurring within these time periods. From 2003 to 2012, estimates of overall change in occupancy probability and abundance of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrows at count points were largely negative throughout the area, but a region in the northeast portion of the WMA may offer the greatest chance for population persistence. The count points characterized by most persistent occurrence and abundance were ≥600 m from the edge of non-prairie habitat, at higher elevations (18.5–19.0 m above sea level), and associated with areas burned within the previous 2 years. Causes for the overall population decline are unknown, but appear to be acting over the entire range of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow.
Overall project area in coastal Mississippi where sites were sampled with Breder traps during the 2008–2009 Saltmarsh Topminnow project (top left panel). Sites sampled west of Highway 49 (Panel A) and sites sampled east of Highway 49 (Panel B) during the project period noting samples where Saltmarsh Topminnow were present (solid circle) or absent (gray square). What may appear to be darker or black squares are actually overlapping gray squares due to close spatial positioning of some of the Breder traps.  
3-D plots of (A) PC I vs. PC II, (B) PC I vs. PC III, and (C) PC II vs. Pc III versus the mean CPUE of Saltmarsh Topminnow (n = 490) based on collections with 674 Breder traps fished across coastal Mississippi environments. H = high loadings, L = low loadings, WD = mean water depth, BS = mean bank slope, Sal = salinity, Turb= turbidity, Temp = water temperature, and plant stem = mean plant-stem density.
Upper-left panel illustrates watersheds (8 digit HUC) where Saltmarsh Topminnow has been documented. Lower panel illustrates the regional distribution of Saltmarsh Topminnow based on results of the current project and compiled non-vouchered and museum records (see Supplemental File 1, available online at SENAonline/suppl-files/s15-3-S2249-Peterson-s1, and, for BioOne subscribers, at http://  
Fundulus jenkinsi (Saltmarsh Topminnow) is listed as "at risk" by the USFWS and as a Tier 2 conservation priority in Mississippi, in part, because of marsh-habitat loss due to storms, urbanization, and its specialized habitat requirements and limited geographic distribution. To provide additional quantitative data for conservation planning, our objectives were to (1) determine the distribution and abundance of Saltmarsh Topminnow within coastal Mississippi, (2) characterize its habitat requirements, and (3) organize and present all Saltmarsh Topminnow data records (non-vouchered and museum records and those from this study) for use in the development of management/conservation plans. We collected 497 fish and associated habitat data from 27 February to 1 August 2009. PCA produced 3 meaningful components: (1) a landscape-position axis (32.40% of the total variance), (2) a seasonal/spatial axis of species occurrence (18.99%), and (3) a geomorphic bank-slope axis (18.78%). Ninety-six percent of all fish (representing 78.8% of collection effort) were captured in water with salinity <13 psu. We compiled 831 geo-referenced occurrences with collection dates ranging from 1891 to 2015. To better quantify and conserve the closelylinked habitat requirements of this species within a reduced salinity range, additional sampling should be focused in undersampled areas between Lake Borgne, LA, to west of Galveston Bay, TX.
Distribution of Eastern Spotted Skunk reports and relative abundance of records by county across their range; includes all records, 2000−2020.
Number of counties and their respective total number of Eastern Spotted Skunk records, 2000−2020.
Evidence suggests the range of Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) has contracted and its abundance has declined in the past 70 years, leading to conservation concerns. We summarized county records of Eastern Spotted Skunks collected during 2000–2020 to determine the current range and relative abundance of the species. We accumulated 1174 records from 257 counties across its historic range in the United States, with 901 records from 197 counties considered verified. Verified records included museum specimens, photo-documented occurrences, and captures by researchers. We created 2 distribution maps: one of their current range based on all occurrence records and another from only verified records. Records indicated the Eastern Spotted Skunk persisted across a large portion of its historic range, and is relatively abundant in the Interior Highlands, Appalachian Mountains, central Texas, central South Dakota, and south Florida. Our results also suggest that the species’ overall range has contracted since 1959. Regions with a relatively high abundance of current records covered a variety of ecosystems, including agricultural areas, grasslands, woodlands, and forests. These data provide managers with information concerning where research and conservation efforts can be focused for this potentially declining species.
We documented a changing diversity in mosquito species between 2 collection periods— 1994–1996 and 2013–2015—in a small (68-ha) ecological preserve in the piedmont of North Carolina. A short (22-y) ecological succession from abandoned farmland to developing forested wetland, and changes in precipitation clearly influenced differences in presence and abundance of species in the preserve. Thirty species were reported from the first period and 32 species in the second period. Of the 30 species found in 1994–1996, 3 species were not collected in the 2013–2015 period. Conversely, 6 species not reported previously were present in the 2013–2015 collections. From both periods, a total of 7172 mosquito specimens of 36 species were collected, representing 95% of species found in Rowan County, an area 2000 times larger than the Fred Stanback Jr. Ecological Preserve (FSJEP), and 54% of species recognized in North Carolina. These results demonstrate the advantages of studying mosquito diversity and abundance over time in small preserves, the impact of short-period environmental fluctuations and ecological succession on mosquito habitats, and the value of small wetland preserves for rare or uncommon species affected by habitat loss.
Map of the wetlands surveyed in the East Marsh of Buck Island Ranch. Filled wetlands indicate that Island Apple Snail was encountered in traps and/or empty shells were encountered along study transects. Outlined wetlands with no fill indicate that the Island Apple Snail was not encountered. 
Snail abundance obtained from trapping has a negative relationship with the frequency of its preferred forage species (ρ =-0.91, P = 0.01). 
The number of egg masses encountered on plant species and manmade structures. 
Spearman's rank correlations between the independent variables and Island Apple Snail percent weight change in the enclosure experiment. 
The invasive Pomacea maculata (= Pomacea insularum) (Perry) (Island Apple Snail) is becoming increasingly abundant in the southeastern US with potentially detrimental effects on wetland vegetation and water quality. Here, we investigate the association of plant-community structure and aquatic-predator abundance with Island Apple Snail invasion in seasonal wetlands on a cattle ranch in south-central Florida. We found a negative correlation between Island Apple Snail abundance and abundance of its preferred forage species, raising concerns that the snail may have already altered plant communities in these seasonal wetlands. We also found a negative correlation between Island Apple Snail abundance in wetlands and distance to the nearest ditch. In a snail-growth experiment, we found a negative effect of species evenness and a positive effect of total vegetation cover on Island Apple Snail weight gain. To understand Island Apple Snail invasion success in seasonal wetlands, more research is needed on the relative importance of landscape- versus local-scale wetland characteristics and how resources such as preferred forage versus egglaying sites affect snail-population growth.
Collection location (*) for Mud Sunfish in Beaver Dam Creek, Washington County, AL.  
Photograph of the Mud Sunfi sh specimen collected 15 April 2010, Beaver Dam Creek, Washington County, AL.  
We report on the first records of Acantharchus pomotis (Mud Sunfish) from Alabama. Three specimens were collected over a ten-year period from Beaver Dam Creek of the Tombigbee River drainage in Washington County, near Chatom, AL. These records represent the most western distribution and the only known population from the Mobile Basin for the Mud Sunfish.
Top-cited authors
Michael E. Dorcas
  • Professional Ecological Solutions, LLC
Ronald M Nowak
Steven J. Price
  • University of Kentucky
Christopher Moorman
  • North Carolina State University
Brad M Glorioso
  • United States Geological Survey