Current Research Projects

Our current research is wide-ranging. From understanding angler behavior in response to management, invasive species risk assessments, understanding how resilience is generated in ecological systems to implementing the North American Bat Monitoring Program in Nebraska, and researching strategies for integrating genetic tools into conservation efforts.

Click on the research project title to learn more:

Angler Behavior on Nebraska's Urban Waterbodies
Project goals are to understand 1) the participation patterns of anglers on multiple spatial and temporal scales; 2) how participation patterns of anglers’ influence fish populations and associated communities; 3) how management actions influence angler participation patterns and, in turn, fish communities; and 4) interactions and feedback mechanisms between and among angler groups and fish

Read more about Angler Behavior on Nebraska's Urban Waterbodies.

Angler at Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, Valentine, NE. Photo: Olivia DaRugna
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program
1. Decrease the risk of aquatic invasive species introduction into Nebraska by implementing a boat inspections and decontamination program;
2. Increase public awareness of AIS through an integrated outreach and education program;
3. Continue AIS monitoring to help focus prevention efforts;
4. Increase local and regional collaboration in the prevention of AIS.

Read more about Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Program.

Boat Inspection. Photo: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Development of a Molecular Approach to Age Pacific Walruses: A Novel Application of Epigenetic Aging for Close-kin Mark-recapture
We are developing an approach to age walruses based on epigenetic signatures, which only requires DNA from sampled individuals. We have identified potential age-related epigenetic markers in walrus by whole methyl DNA sequencing samples derived from calves (0 year old) and adults (≥6 years old) with museum specimens of known age based on tooth cementum annuli analyses.

Read more about Development of a Molecular Approach to Age Pacific Walruses: A Novel Application of Epigenetic Aging for Close-kin Mark-recapture.

Pacific walrus on ice floe in Chukchi Sea, Alaska
Effects of Woody Encroachment and Management on Grassland Birds in Nebraska’s Sandhills.
1. Quantify the response of grassland birds to time-since-treatment, helping to evaluate the decade of conservation investments in the Sandhills;
2. Evaluate changes in grassland bird communities and species abundance due to the expansion of ERC;

Read more about Effects of Woody Encroachment and Management on Grassland Birds in Nebraska’s Sandhills. .

Dickcissel  Photo: Elaine R Wilson (NaturePics)
Evaluating reproduction, harvest, timing of season, connectivity, and spatial ecology of wild turkeys in Nebraska
Wild turkeys are an important game species in Nebraska and across the United States of America. Managers and hunters have reported declines in the number of wild turkeys in Nebraska, similar to declines in other states and regions.

Read more about Evaluating reproduction, harvest, timing of season, connectivity, and spatial ecology of wild turkeys in Nebraska.

Turkey   Photo: Justin Haag (Nebraskaland Magazine)
Multi-scale habitat needs of at-risk fishes in Nebraska
This study will set the stage for future work assessing fish-habitat relations by identifying locations most likely to contain species of interest.

Read more about Multi-scale habitat needs of at-risk fishes in Nebraska.

Braxton Newkirk and Connor Hart Electrofishing on Deer Creek.
Pallid Sturgeon biology in Platte River and its tributaries
The Pallid Sturgeon is a U.S. Threatened species that primarily inhabits the Missouri River and lower Mississippi rivers. Ongoing work in the main stems of large rivers has provided much critical information regarding the biology and ecology of the species.

Read more about Pallid Sturgeon biology in Platte River and its tributaries.

Chris Pullano and Jenna Ruoss holding recently tagged female Pallid Sturgeon.
Project Sampling Effeciency Assessment for Silver Carp and Bighead Carp in Nebraska Mid-Order Streams and Rivers
1. Assess the temporal and spatial distribution and conduct an assessment of population characteristics including—but not limited too—relative abundance, size structure, and age structure of Silver Carp and Bighead Carp populations on the Platte River and lower reaches of major tributaries of Platte River,

Read more about Project Sampling Effeciency Assessment for Silver Carp and Bighead Carp in Nebraska Mid-Order Streams and Rivers.

Brett Anderson and Ella Humphery obtaining sonar reading in the field.
Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Science
The Rainwater Basin Joint Venture’s (RWBJV) mission includes science–based conservation efforts for all priority bird habitats throughout Nebraska’s mixed–grass prairie region. The Management Board of the RWBJV is committed to implementing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Strategic Habitat Conservation model.

Read more about Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Science.

Ducks Unlimited technician Danielle Ramsden surveys waterfowl on a Rainwater Basin playa during a waterfowl monitoring project. Photo:  Alyssa Eby
Wetlands of Nebraska: An Outreach and Education Project
The main objective of this project is to produce and distribute a series of integrated wetland outreach and education products to increase awareness of the importance of wetlands in Nebraska and an understanding of the need for wetland conservation.

Read more about Wetlands of Nebraska: An Outreach and Education Project.

Platte Basin Timelapse website home page, https://plattebasintimelapse.com/. Web photo clip
Cooperators