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.
Forest Health Across the Globe
According to the World Wildlife Federation, eighty percent of the world’s terrestrial plant and animal species make their home in the forest and a square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species. That’s why scientists in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center have partnered with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs over the past several years to help improve vital forests globally. FWRC scientists have embarked on a three-year grant to study forest health and ecosystem services across the globe in the U.S., China, Cambodia, and Argentina, among other locations. Dr. Andy Kouba, professor and head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, is the grant’s principal investigator and is involved in two of the grant’s projects, both in China. The first project, focused on giant pandas, includes Dr. Carrie Vance, associate research professor in biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology and MAFES scientist, and Dr. Guiming Wang, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture professor and FWRC scientist.
The other project reintroduces Chinese giant salamanders back into the wild. Dr. Wes Neal, extension and research professor in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, alongside Dr. Peter Allen, professor, are on a project in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Cambodian government to help start a community fishery with villages along the Sre Ambel River in Cambodia. Dr. Sandra Correa, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture assistant professor, received funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and its Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, housed at MSU, to measure the project’s efficacy and continue other efforts along the Sre Ambel River. The grant also supports research led by Dr. John Riggins, professor in biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology and MAFES scientist, who is studying the European wood wasp, an invasive species affecting pine forests in Argentina. This research is funded by the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish.