Thomas L. Serfass

Thomas L. Serfass
Frostburg State University · Biology and Natural Resources

Ph.D.

About

115
Publications
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Publications

Publications (115)
Article
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The reintroduction of mammalian predators often has been met with controversy among citizens near reintroduction sites primarily because of concern for predation of livestock, pets, and game species. The river otter (Lontra canadensis) is an example of a predator widely reintroduced in the United States that has in some cases been negatively depict...
Article
Full-text available
We evaluated the efficacy of placing camera traps at river otter (Lontra canadensis) latrines (discrete sites in riparian areas where otters regularly deposit scats, urine, and anal secretions) to detect other carnivores occupying Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey, USA. We postulated that scents at latrines may serve as an attractant...
Chapter
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The majority of the world’s 13 species of otters have not been live-trapped for research or conservation purposes, and are not legally trapped for fur. Thus, the development of humane standards to trap otters has received relatively little research attention or discussion. Although non-invasive techniques are becoming more prominent in field studie...
Article
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We argue that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAM) as currently promoted is an overly narrow construct, used both to explain how North American wildlife conservation developed historically, and as a prescriptive framework for applying a hunting-focused form of wildlife conservation. We argue both constructs are problematic in tha...
Technical Report
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[We invite feedback on this report. Send to: Bruskotter.9@osu.edu] In three book chapters written in the mid-1990s, Geist (1995a,b,c) reviewed historical developments in wildlife conservation in North America with the aim of isolating “key, enabling policies affecting wildlife” (Geist 1995a, p.11). Those ideas were further consolidated in Geist et...
Chapter
The historic range of the North American river otter, Lontra canadensis , included much of the North American continent, from arctic Alaska and northern Canada to the southern United States (US). However, overharvest and perturbations to aquatic environments contributed to the decline and, in some cases, the extirpation of river otter populations t...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper, we set out the prerequisites for the development of killing and restraining trap systems to capture mammals for research, wildlife management and conservation, fur trapping, animal control, and any other activity involving the trapping of a mammal in a mechanical trapping device. We selected them with the main intent of developing ne...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper, we propose standards for killing trap systems based on Proulx et al.'s (2022) prerequisites, which provide context and explanations for our approach. Our aim is to identify assessment protocols that are based on the scientific method, and that include evaluation parameters and threshold levels of acceptation, and laboratory and field...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this paper, we propose standards for restraining trap systems based on Proulx et al.'s (2022a) prerequisites, which provide context and explanations for our approach. Our aim is to identify assessment protocols that are based on the scientific method, and that include evaluation parameters and threshold levels of acceptation, and laboratory and...
Article
Full-text available
We assessed den-site selection of Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia by radio-tracking 8 individuals to 83 dens from January 2018 to October 2019. We measured local habitat characteristics at den sites and nearby, presumed unused paired sites and compared the habitat predictors via binary logist...
Preprint
Full-text available
Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) populations have declined throughout their range and may now be extirpated from the northeast in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Populations have persisted south of the Potomac River along shared mountain ranges in Virginia and West Virginia. Little is known about the dispersal capabilities of the species, incl...
Article
Full-text available
Avian predation is a primary cause of mortality for Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) and is generally attributed to Bubo virginianus (Great Horned Owl). We report the first confirmed avian predation of an Eastern Spotted Skunk by a Strix varia (Barred Owl). The radio-collar of an adult female Eastern Spotted Skunk was recovered alongside...
Article
Full-text available
Spilogale putorius (Eastern Spotted Skunk) populations have declined throughout their range and may now be extirpated from the northeast in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Populations have persisted south of the Potomac River along shared mountain ranges in Virginia and West Virginia. Little is known about the dispersal capabilities of the species, incl...
Article
Full-text available
A human-induced global decline of apex predators resulted in the "release" of smaller mesopredators. These mesopredators exhibit different relationships with landscape disturbance than do their apex cousins. This study sampled predator use of riparian corridor disturbance gradients to examine the relationships between mesopredator occurrence and oc...
Article
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Fishers (Pekania pennanti) are a forest carnivore that was widely distributed throughout Canada and the northern United States of America. However, their populations were greatly reduced during the 19 th and 20 th centuries following habitat loss and unregulated trapping. Studies that established fisher habitat associations with dense forest and un...
Article
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In 1999, after pressure from the European Union, an Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) that would result in the banning of the steel-jawed leghold traps in the European Community, Canada, and Russia was signed. The United States implemented these standards through an Agreed Minute with the European Community. Over the last...
Preprint
The historic range of the North American river otter, Lontra canadensis, included much of the North American continent, from arctic Alaska and northern Canada to the southern United States (U.S.). However, overharvest and perturbations to aquatic environments contributed to the decline and, in some cases, the extirpation of river otter populations...
Article
Full-text available
We examined monthly variation in scat marking by river otters (Lontra canadensis) by surveying both shorelines of a 17.3 km section of Tionesta Creek in northwestern Pennsylvania once a month from 4
Article
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Understanding the full range of aquatic habitats used by otters can influence how conservation protections are implemented. The distributional ranges of some species are restricted to geographic regions contained within defined political boundaries (e.g., states, provinces, nations) or management units (e.g., river basins, watersheds, conservation...
Article
Full-text available
Recently, Stewart et al. (2017) investigated the origins of contemporary fisher populations in the Cooking Lake Moraine (CLM) of east-central Alberta, Canada, where fishers (Pekania pennanti) from Ontario and Manitoba, Canada were reintroduced in the early 1990s. To address this objective, Stewart et al. (2017) compared microsatellite alleles from...
Article
Full-text available
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) faces a legacy of radionuclide and metal contamination from industrial processes that occurred throughout the site. Northern river otters (Lontra canadensis) are appropriate receptors for studying the effects of long-term, low-level contamination because they are long-lived, higher trophic...
Article
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This study compares cost, completion times, and percent completion of electronic tablet (n = 244) to paper-based (n = 398) questionnaires administered to participants of scenic raft trips on the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park. We hypothesized e-tablet questionnaires would (1) cost less (2) be completed faster and (3) be completely filled mo...
Article
Full-text available
Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) often carry food items to caching sites and while making provisioning trips to litters. This behaviour provides opportunities to use camera traps to record Red Foxes carrying food that is likely prey. As part of a larger study using camera-trap surveys to monitor carnivore populations at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refug...
Chapter
Full-text available
Welfare effects of human interactions on river and sea otters take many forms: trapping, fishing, water borne debris, toxic elements and captivity. Animal welfare issues associated with otter trapping, especially using leghold traps, are reviewed. Different trap models are described. Box traps or padded traps are used for the live capture of otters...
Article
Full-text available
In Pennsylvania the production of game and other fish species is a $1.6 billion industry, and loss from depredation can take a serious toll on fish stocks and associated revenues. Following a reintroduction project and natural expansion of native populations, river otters (Lontra canadensis) are now widely distributed throughout Pennsylvania. To de...
Article
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The level of stress that animals endure during capture, handling, transportation, and release processes is a major concern of animal reintroduction projects. Animals under chronic stress are more susceptible to disease and other deleterious issues that could reduce their survival in a new environment. Northern river otters (Lontra canadensis) have...
Article
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Background: Canine distemper virus (CDV) infects families in the order Carnivora. As a preventive measure, vaccinations against CDV are frequently given to mustelids in captive environments. Objectives: Our objectives were to compare the utility between two modified-live virus canine distemper vaccines (MLV CDV's), Fervac-D® (no longer manufactu...
Article
Full-text available
Canine distemper virus (CDV) infects species in the order Carnivora. Members of the family Mustelidae are among the species most susceptible to CDV and have a high mortality rate after infection. Assessing an animal's pathogen or disease load prior to any reintroduction project is important to help protect the animal being reintroduced, as well as...
Article
Full-text available
Canine distemper virus (CDV), a contagious morbillivirus, infects families in the order Carnivora, including Nearctic river otters (Lontra canadensis). As a preventative measure, vaccinations against CDV are frequently given to mustelids in captive environments. The Pennsylvania River Otter Reintroduction Project (PRORP) used wild-caught river otte...
Article
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The relocation of animals can induce stress when animals are placed in novel environmental conditions. The movement of captive animals among facilities is common, especially for non-human primates used in research. The stress response begins with the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which results in the release of glucoco...
Article
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Article
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The problem of dueling names for a species has been minimized within the scientific community through the development and use of standardized ordering and naming systems. Ambiguity, however, persists among common vernaculars. Such variation in names transcends countries and continents, and can result in a single species being known by multiple name...
Article
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Little is known of spotted-necked otter behavior, particularly in lentic ecosystems. In 2005, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) selected this species for management under the Small Carnivore Taxonomic Regional Collection Plan (SCTAG). In 2012, the AZA Otter group recommended this species for Red SSP status. As a result of the paucity of i...
Article
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We observed spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) along a 5.17-km section of shoreline at Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania, during May 2008 and February, June-August 2009 to determine whether their activity areas were associated with latrine site (places along the shoreline where spotted-necked otters scent mark by depositing scats and u...
Article
Full-text available
Populations of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) declined throughout large portions of the continent during the early 1900s due to habitat degradation and unregulated trapping. River otters had been extirpated in North Dakota (ND), but the Red River Valley has since been recolonized, with potential source populations including the nei...
Chapter
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The Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR) encompasses fi ve major physiographic regions or ecoregions ranging from coastal habitats to mountainous terrain. It includes both unglaciated and glaciated sections. The topography is further differentiated and dissected by several major river basins draining into the Delaware, Susquehanna-Chesapeake, Ohio-Mississippi...
Article
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Fishers (Martes pennanti) historically were reported to occupy forested areas of northeastern North Dakota, but the population was presumed extirpated during the 1900s as a result of overtrapping. Recently (≥15 years), Fishers have been recolonizing the state, and there is increasing interest in developing approaches for monitoring the population....
Article
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During 2006, we conducted riparian surveys to detect river otter Lontra canadensis latrines at 15 bridge-suites along riverine habitats in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland, USA. We defined a bridge-suite as consisting of survey locations at the bridge, a random site and a site chosen by application of a Pattern Recognition Model devel...
Article
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American martens (Martes americana) were native to northeastern North Dakota but were considered extirpated by the early 1800s. Although there is no historic evidence of martens occurring beyond the northeast, forested habitat potentially suitable for martens exists in the Turtle Mountains region of northcentral North Dakota and southwestern Manito...
Article
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Historically, the distribution of fishers (Martes pennanti) in North America included portions of eastern North Dakota, USA; however, the population was reported to have become extirpated by the early 1900s. Verified reports, road-killed and incidentally trapped individuals, indicate that fishers have been re-establishing populations in riparian fo...
Article
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sees sustainable scholarly publishing as an inherently collaborative enterprise connecting authors, nonprofit publishers, academic institutions, research libraries, and research funders in the common goal of maximizing access to critical research..2.435 BioOne (www.bioone.org) is a a nonprofit, online aggregation of core research in the biological,...
Article
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Estimating the size of fish prey requires the use of relationships between the size of non-digestible fish remains (recovered as prey in scats or digestive tracts) and fish length. The applicability of scales for estimating the size of fish prey eaten by river otters (Lontra canadensis) or other piscivores was evaluated by conducting a linear regre...
Article
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Intraperitoneal implantation of radio-transmitters is a useful method of monitoring free-ranging aquatic and semi-aquatic mammals; however, some researchers are concerned about the physiological effects of such implants. Few studies have investigated the long-term consequences of intraperitoneal implants on survival or reproductive performance. An...
Article
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Otters have served as flagship species to raise awareness for conservation of aquatic ecosystems in many areas, and the IUCN Otter Specialist Group has recommended increasing such usage of the world's 13 otter species. However, success with using one of a group of species as a flagship in some areas will not necessarily translate to conservation su...
Article
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Wetlands of International Importance, as listed by the Ramsar Convention, can provide valuable opportunities to conserve otter species worldwide. Adopted in 1971, the Convention originally focused on protecting habitats for waterfowl. Since then the convention has broadened its scope to cover all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use, recogn...
Article
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The food habits of river otters (Lontra canadensis) on three rivers in the Red River of the North drainage of eastern North Dakota were evaluated using an analysis of 569 scats collected between 4 Oct. 2006 and 26 Nov. 2007. Fish and crayfish were the primary prey items, occurring in 83.0% and 51.1% of scats, respectively. Other prey included insec...
Article
Full-text available
The food habits of river otters (Lontra canadensis) on three rivers in the Red River of the North drainage of eastern North Dakota were evaluated using an analysis of 569 scats collected between 4 Oct. 2006 and 26 Nov. 2007. Fish and crayfish were the primary prey items, occurring in 83.0% and 51.1% of scats, respectively. Other prey included insec...
Article
Full-text available
Reintroduction projects often expose animals to a series of acute stressors that may cause chronic stress and lead to the stress response. The stress response results in the release of glucocorticoids that, when excessive, can cause detrimental effects to the animal. Glucocorticoids can be extracted from feces and quantified as an effective method...
Article
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We compiled information about uses and lore pertaining to spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) inhabiting portions of Lake Victoria. The information was derived from discussions conducted during 2005-2009 with 100 residents living in communities adjacent to Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Our information is entirely anecdotal, b...
Chapter
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Article
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We combined analyses of visitation (using remote cameras) and scent marking (using traditional sign surveys) to provide a comprehensive assessment of the mechanisms underlying variation in river otter scent marking at latrine sites and to verify that river otter scent marking varies seasonally in Pennsylvania and Maryland. We observed seasonal peak...
Article
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Survival and post-release movements of individuals translocated for reintroduction purposes have implications for intra-specific interactions, which are essential for reproduction, and, ultimately, for the success of the reintroduction effort. Between 1997–1998, 28 (14M:14F) Lontra canadensis (river otters) were translocated to the Genesee River, N...
Chapter
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The movement of wild animals for restoration purposes has become a necessary and more common aspect of modern conservation practices. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN 1998) defines translocation as the movement of living organisms from one area to another. Reintroductions and restockings (hereafter...