August 2011

Science In Action Series 2011 Archived Recording

Watch live streaming video from r5broadcasts at

Date: Thursday, August 18th Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Presenter: Tom Serfass, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Department of Biology and Natural Resources, Frostburg State University

Presentation: Forest carnivores in North Dakota: home on the prairie?

Abstract: Until recently, the distribution of fishers (Martes pennanti), American martens (Martes americana), and river otters (Lontra canadensis) were thought to be limited by very specific habitat requirements, typically involving some level of forest dependence defined by the respective species. Since 2006 Tom has worked with four graduate students to assess the occurrence, distribution, and ecological aspects of these carnivores (primarily in the Red River of the North drainage in eastern North Dakota), all of which were presumed extirpated in the state as recently as 10 years ago. All of the species appear to be self-sustaining, often in landscapes dominated by large, agricultural enterprises, or in areas otherwise previously considered less than optional based on previously presumed habitat requirements. This presentation reviews previous paradigms about habitat requirements for fishers, martens, and otters, and contrasts these to conditions in which they are occurring in North Dakota.

Bio: Dr. Tom Serfass is Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University, and Adjunct Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory – University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. A large portion of his research and conservation activities have focused on the design, implementation, and evaluation of wildlife restoration programs and recovering wildlife populations—particularly mesocarnioves. Tom conceived and coordinated the successful Pennsylvania River Otter (Lontra canadensis) and Fisher (Martes pennanti) Reintroduction Projects, and has authored over 40 journal, proceeding, and popular articles, and book chapters dealing specifically with river otters, fishers, and wildlife reintroductions. During the past 14 years Tom has supervised the completion of 25 MS and PhD students, conducting research ranging from evaluating the fates of river otters reintroduced in western New York to assessing the natural history and conservation value (potential as flagship species) of spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) and other wildlife at Rubondo Island National Park, Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Tom is the North American Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Otter Specialist Group.

Science In Action Series 2011 Archived Recording

r5broadcasts on Broadcast Live Free

Date: Thursday, August 25th, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Presenter: Caleb S. Spiegel, Wildlife Biologist, Migratory Birds, Hadley, MA

Presentation: The 2011 Piping Plover Census in the Bahamas: International efforts to find a rare shorebird species on its wintering ground.

Abstract: With a world population of fewer than 8,000 individuals, the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), a small shorebird that breeds on the east coast and central interior of North America, is federally protected in the U.S. and Canada. While extensive monitoring and conservation efforts are conducted within the species’ breeding range, basic information has not been well established for several wintering areas. International surveys are vital to informing conservation efforts for Piping Plovers, as individuals cross political boundaries during the annual cycle and may face threats in wintering areas. Every five years, the International Piping Plover Census (coordinated by the USGS Biological Resources Division) is conducted to identify crucial wintering areas and determine approximate winter population sizes. During the 2006 census the Bahamas was recognized as an important wintering area, though the census effort was not comprehensive. In late January 2011, state and federal agencies, NGOs, and non-profit groups from the Bahamas, Canada, and the United States teamed up to conduct the largest census of Piping Plovers in the Bahamas to date. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Birds contributed personnel and funding to the census effort, enabling the first thorough plover count for the Bahamas. Preliminary census results indicate that the Bahamas host 10 - 25% of the world’s Piping Plovers, the second highest known winter population.

Bio: Caleb Spiegel is a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Birds, at the Region 5 Headquarters in Hadley, MA. Caleb specializes in shorebird and seabird conservation issues. His recent and ongoing projects for the USFWS include developing a bycatch reduction strategy for marine birds in Atlantic Fisheries, examining the effects of proposed offshore wind energy development on offshore bird species, and coordinating efforts among partners to develop a shorebird conservation action plan for the Atlantic Flyway. Raised in Hawaii, Caleb has always enjoyed the outdoors, developing a serious interest in wildlife ecology over 15 years ago, while a sea turtle research intern. Since then Caleb has worked with multiple avian research projects in far-off places including a shorebird conservation program on Cape Cod, waterbird research projects in both the Northern Mariana Islands and Florida Everglades, and a native forest bird disease study in Hawaii. Caleb Spiegel received a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University in 2008, where he investigated nesting behavior, parental care, and the effects of natural and human stimuli on Black Oystercatchers in Prince William Sound, Alaska.


Back to the Science Seminar Series Home Page