Utah Chapter: Grants-in-Aid

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Grant Information:

The Utah Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS) offers Grants-in-Aid for graduate and undergraduate research. Over $4,000 was awarded last year!

To apply send a completed proposal to brock_mcmillan@byu.edu by February 24, 2017. Grant recipients will be announced at the UTTWS Annual Meeting Banquet Thursday March 23, 2017 at 6pm in the Bryce Canyon-Ruby’s Inn Hotel.

Research and Mentoring Grants:

The purpose of Utah Chapter TWS research grants is to assist marginally funded research projects, not add to already well-funded efforts. These funds can be used for supplies, travel, wages or publications associated with existing wildlife projects.

Utah Chapter TWS mentoring grants reimburse students for their time, supplies, and/or other expenses involved with conducting a wildlife research project. Students may either design their own project or work on a professor’s ongoing research, but all students must work with a faculty mentor. Some students may approach faculty with their own ideas, while others may propose to assist wildlife research that is already ongoing. Students should initiate the mentoring relationship by asking a faculty member to advise them on a project.

Application Guidelines:

Proposal Format must follow these guidelines:

  • The proposal should be 2 pages single spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point times new roman.
  • Header: Proposal Title, Applicant’s name and Applicant’s email.
  • Goal/Purpose: write a succinct statement summarizing the goal of the project.
  • Importance of project: explain why this project is important. It may, for example, fill a research need, attempt to provide a practical solution to a vexing problem, or create an aesthetic work of art.
  • Main Proposal Body: This section is the main body of your proposal. Include your research plans, methods and expectations for this project based on the unique skills you and your mentor possess to conduct this project. If you need to include images or symbols with your proposal, please be sure to optimize the images so the entire document is not more than 2 MB.
  • Anticipated Outcome: describe any presentations, displays, publications, or other tangible outcomes you anticipate. This may be a paper, a formal presentation, a performance, an invention, or even a lecture in a public forum such as a class presentation.
  • Qualifications: explain why you are qualified to pursue this project.
  • Project Timetable: summarize the major milestones in your project.

Eligibility for Grants

  • Must be currently enrolled as a fulltime student.
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must have a research project in need of financial support for research grant OR Must have faculty member who is willing to serve as a mentor for mentoring grant
  • Must be willing to make a brief oral or poster presentation at the 2016 Utah Chapter of the TWS meeting.

Congratulations to the 2016 student grant recipients:

Kristen Ellis (BYU), received $1500 to study Snowy Plover.

The first objective is to determine if egg camouflage (egg coloration and speckling pattern) or nest camouflage (cover from vegetation or debris) influence depredation rates differently by olfactory or visual predators. Our second objective is to test the hypothesis that an increase in abundance of nest predators alters incubation behaviors and decreases body condition of snowy plover. Our study areas include Saltair, Antelope Island State Park, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Dugway Proving Ground, and Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area. We completed two years of the study (2014 – 2015) at Saltair, Antelope Island State Park, and Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. We are interested in expanding to include Blue Lake Wildlife Management Area and Dugway Proving Ground for the next two years (2016 – 2017). Our study sites represent varying abundances of mesopredators and avian nest predators.

Justin Small (USU), received $1000 to study Greater sage-grouse

Beginning in early fall 2015, five female sage-grouse were captured and fitted with geographic positioning system (GPS) radio-marked. In the spring of 2016, fifteen more GPS collars will be deployed on female sage-grouse. The GPS transmitters will be distributed evenly across the study area to ensure total represent of bird population is obtained. A sample of 20 female sagegrouse equipped with very high frequency (VHF) necklace-style radio-collars will also be maintained across the study area. The combination of GPS and VHF radio-transmitters will also allow us to evaluate if the type of transmitter deployed may affect vital rates. Caudill et al. (2014) reported sage-grouse fitted with back-mounted radio-transmitters had lower survival rates than birds fitted with necklace-style radio-transmitters. Every sage-grouse is weighed, sexed, aged, evaluated for general health, and receives a numbered leg band. Every capture site is recorded (UTM, 12N, NAD 1983). Birds are fitted with a backpack style GPS transmitter (Microwave Telemetry, Inc. 22g PTT-100 Solar Argos GPS Transmitter). Birds are handled and released at the capture site. Vegetation surveys are conducted at all nest sites, every other brood site, and one random site for every other measure brood site. These vegetation surveys provide information about cover and forage plant preferences in utilized areas. Each survey consists of four transects placed in cardinal direction from the used site. Transect are 15m and 10m at nest and brood sites, respectively.

Wayne Smith (USU), received $750 to study Greater sage-grouse

The study area is located in Rich County, Utah, in the western United States. Beginning in the spring of 2016, we will capture and radio-mark 30 female sage-grouse on DLL and Three Creeks with VHF radio collars. We will capture and radio-mark 20 additional female sage-grouse (10 on DLL and 10 on Three Creeks) with camouflaged and solar-powered GPS satellite transmitters following capture protocols described by Connelly et al. (2003). These sage-grouse location data will be compared to livestock habitat selection data which will be collected using 47 GPS-collars that will be deployed on cattle in DLL and the Three Creeks Allotment study areas. Upon re-locating radio-marked sage-grouse, a vegetation survey will be conducted at the location to determine the characteristics of the preferred cover and forage plants. Each survey will consist of four transects of 15 m in length at nest sites, habitat use sites, and random locations. Comparisons of these data will be made to determine if differences exist between preferred and random locations based on ecological site and condition. The GPS technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software will be used to create a viewshed of the species’ vital rates, seasonal movements, and habitat use patterns relative to the vegetation structure and composition, livestock distributions, and ecological sites and condition in the study areas.

Jared Baxter (BYU), received $750 to study Greater sage-grouse.

The Strawberry Valley sage-grouse recovery project began in 1998. This project represents one of the longest, continuous research projects on this species anywhere in the world. When the project began, the sage-grouse population was in severe decline (Bunnell 2000) and risked extirpation by 2014 (Baxter 2003). A massive effort was undertaken from 2003-2008 by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources; Utah Reclamation, Mitigation, and Conservation Commission; US Forest Service; Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife; USDA Wildlife Services; USU extension; private landowners; Brigham Young University; and numerous volunteers to translocate more than 375 sage-grouse to Strawberry Valley from four source populations around Utah. For this project, we will analyze 18 years of biological data in an effort to better understand how population growth rate changed relative to the translocation effort. First, we will use program MARK to estimate vital rates (nest, chick, yearling/adult survival). We will formulate competing hypotheses and translate each into an a priori mathematical model. We will then evaluate the relative support of each model and associated hypothesis using maximum likelihood methods available inside program MARK. Estimates of survival rates from supported models will then be used in program R to estimate population growth rate prior to translocation (1998-2002), during translocation (2003-2008), and in the years following translocation (2009-2015).