JDJCSET | Sigma Xi Poster Competition

Title

Wildlife Use of Livestock Water Troughs in Several States East of the Mississippi River

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Graduate

Major

Biology

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Nancy Buschhaus, PhD.

Presentation Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Description

ABSTRACT: Many factors influence availability and quality of natural water sources that wildlife might use on the landscape. However, when natural water sources are unavailable or undesirable, wildlife may opportunistically exploit artificial water sources provided for livestock. In June 2016, we collected survey data from 269 NRCS employees regarding the incidence of livestock producer reports of wildlife mortalities in livestock water troughs located east of the Mississippi River; 36.8% reported they or their producers observed dead animals in livestock troughs. In addition to the survey, from July - September 2016 and June – September 2017, we collected field data at livestock water troughs located in several states east of the Mississippi River (KY, GA, and TN). We examined the frequency of wildlife visits to livestock troughs, the type of wildlife using these troughs, and the trough characteristics. During 48-hour sampling periods, we recorded wildlife use at each trough with three Bushnell Trophy Cam HD trail cameras, and recorded bat activity and species richness in the vicinity of the trough with a Wildlife Acoustics SM4BAT detector. Several species of wildlife, the majority of which were either mammalian or avian, were observed using and/or interacting with more than a third of the livestock water troughs in our study. Due to a limited sampling size from the 2016 data, we created a generalized linear regression model of the 2017 data and used AICs model averaging for model selection in R software® to determine which predictors (type of trough, distance to nearest natural water source from trough, and structure presence around trough) were significant in determining the number of wildlife visits. The level of wildlife use of water troughs observed in this study suggests that livestock troughs might be an important alternative source of water for some wildlife species, for whom predation risk might increase as they have to cross the landscape to reach the nearest natural water source.

Spring Scholars Week 2018 Event

Sigma Xi Poster Competition

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Wildlife Use of Livestock Water Troughs in Several States East of the Mississippi River

ABSTRACT: Many factors influence availability and quality of natural water sources that wildlife might use on the landscape. However, when natural water sources are unavailable or undesirable, wildlife may opportunistically exploit artificial water sources provided for livestock. In June 2016, we collected survey data from 269 NRCS employees regarding the incidence of livestock producer reports of wildlife mortalities in livestock water troughs located east of the Mississippi River; 36.8% reported they or their producers observed dead animals in livestock troughs. In addition to the survey, from July - September 2016 and June – September 2017, we collected field data at livestock water troughs located in several states east of the Mississippi River (KY, GA, and TN). We examined the frequency of wildlife visits to livestock troughs, the type of wildlife using these troughs, and the trough characteristics. During 48-hour sampling periods, we recorded wildlife use at each trough with three Bushnell Trophy Cam HD trail cameras, and recorded bat activity and species richness in the vicinity of the trough with a Wildlife Acoustics SM4BAT detector. Several species of wildlife, the majority of which were either mammalian or avian, were observed using and/or interacting with more than a third of the livestock water troughs in our study. Due to a limited sampling size from the 2016 data, we created a generalized linear regression model of the 2017 data and used AICs model averaging for model selection in R software® to determine which predictors (type of trough, distance to nearest natural water source from trough, and structure presence around trough) were significant in determining the number of wildlife visits. The level of wildlife use of water troughs observed in this study suggests that livestock troughs might be an important alternative source of water for some wildlife species, for whom predation risk might increase as they have to cross the landscape to reach the nearest natural water source.