Ron Goellner Grant Past Recipients


Past recipients for the CIG Ron Goellner Conservation Fund (2004-2017):

 

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Fund Recipient 2017:

Project Title: Beyond occupancy: examining eastern hellbender recruitment, associated microbial assemblages, and population viability.” Rachel Arrick, Marshall University. Awarded $1,000.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Fund Recipient 2016:

Project Title: “Investigating hellbender immunity and the advantages of environmental microbe exposure prior to reintroduction.” Rod Williams, Purdue University. Awarded $984.00

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Fund Recipient 2015:

Project Title: “Using environmental DNA as a sampling method for occupancy modeling in aquatic salamanders.” Thomas Franklin, Appalachian State University, NC. Awarded $1,000.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2014

Project Title: Walden’s Ridge Streams, Assessment for Hellbender Reintroduction. David Hedrick, Chattanooga Zoo, Awarded $1,000.

Project Summary:

Once found throughout Middle and East Tennessee, population surveys of Cryptobranchus alleganiensis in this state over the last ten years suggest a catastrophic collapse has already occurred. Current data suggest that there are as few as six healthy, self-sustaining populations left in the state, isolated in relatively small stretches of stream habitat in the mountains of East Tennessee. Without question, the Middle Tennessee, Cumberland Plateau, and Tennessee Valley streams have suffered extensive enough alteration and pollution in the past forty years as to make the species functionally extinct.

One of the next courses of action to be taken in the state is to identify stream habitats which have been restored enough to allow for reintroduction of Cryptobranchus alleganiensis. We will seek to determine if Cryptobranchus alleganiensis still inhabits any of these streams, and if not, whether any are candidates for reintroduction.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2013

Project Title: Genome-scale resolution of species boundaries and demography in Cryptobranchus. Paul M. Hime, University of Kentucky. Awarded $1,000.

 Project Summary:

Hellbenders (genus Cryptobranchus) are large, obligately aquatic salamanders that are at risk of local extirpation and global extinction across their range in the eastern and central US. The past decade has seen the mobilization of substantial and multifarious conservation initiatives with hellbenders and many great strides have been made toward conserving these salamanders across their range including successful methods for captive propagation, non-invasive environmental detection methods using eDNA assays, and the recent federal listing of Ozark populations by USFWS. Despite these encouraging developments, effective and timely hellbender conservation still hinges critically upon understanding: 1) the boundaries between evolutionarily distinct lineages and the extent of cryptic species within this genus, 2) population-level parameters, such as effective population sizes, levels of genetic diversity, and rates of gene flow between populations, and 3) the extent of adaptive genetic divergence between different hellbender lineages. Emerging research suggests that Cryptobranchus may comprise several unrecognized cryptic species, each more imperiled than currently realized.

Yet, existing population genetic and phylogenetic methods and current protocols for genetic data generation are unable to provide much needed genome-wide perspectives on lineage boundaries and population dynamics in this group, impeding comprehensive protection and repatriation efforts. Accordingly, our proposed research leverages several innovative genomic and analytical approaches to confront these pressing challenges. We have developed and will apply next-generation sequencing methods for genome analysis and multilocus species delimitation to reveal species boundaries and population genetic structure in this genus, setting the stage for genetically-informed conservation efforts in this declining group of salamanders.

  

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2013

Project Title: Status of the Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) across achanging landscape. Kirsten Hecht-Kardasz, University of Florida. Awarded $900.

Project Summary: Habitat alterations and surrounding land use have been implicated as potential causes in range wide hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) declines. Little River, located in Tennessee, could potentially provide a unique opportunity to explore the effects of surrounding land use on C. alleganiensis. A 3 km section of Little River located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been well studied over the last decade and appears to support a relatively healthy and stable hellbender population. The study site ends at the Scenic TN 73 park boundary, where the small resort town of Townsend immediately begins. The area surrounding Little River downstream from the park boundary is disturbed and includes commercial development, residential areas, cattle pastures, and berry farms. While hellbenders were known historically to occur in the area downstream of the park, their current status is unknown. This preliminary study aims to compare the health and population status of hellbenders from the studied site within the park boundary to the downstream disturbed areas to determine if this site would be suitable for a full scale long-term study investigating the effects of land use and water quality changes on C. alleganiensis.

  

2012: No Funds were dispersed

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2011

Project Title: Using environmental DNA for monitoring to complement hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) surveys to determine current status across Tennessee. Dr. Stephen Spear and Dr. Chris Jenkins, The Orianne Society. Awarded $1,000.

Project Summary:

Three main objectives: 1) confirm that the eDNA approach is effective for hellbenders; 2) test whether there is a density threshold for detecting hellbenders with eDNA and whether the method can detect hellbenders where intensive surveys cannot; and 3) test how consistently different water samples detect hellbender DNA. This will serve the most important purpose of determining whether eDNA monitoring will be useful in the future for conservation studies, but also will complement a funded study of hellbender status across Tennessee.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2010

Project Title: Assessment of Genetic Structure Within and Among Eastern Hellbender Populations. Dr. Rod Williams and Shem Unger, Purdue University. Awarded $960.

Project Summary:

To examine levels of genetic variation and genetic structure among populations of eastern hellbenders within their natural range, including sites from eight states.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2009

Project Title:  Genetic Sex Diagnosis of Cryptobranchus alleganiensis. Paul Hime, St. Louis Zoo and Joshua Reece, Washington University, St. Louis. Awarded $1,000.

Project Summary:

This project seeks to identify genetic markers that reliably diagnose sex in Cryptobranchus. Genetic sex diagnosis is well established for a wide variety of vertebrates and has significant implications for species conservation and research. To date, no method exists for genetic sexing of salamanders. Cryptobranchids are diploid organisms that exhibit a ZZ/ZW sex determining system in which females possess two different sex chromosomes and males possess an identical pair. By locating and characterizing regions of DNA unique to the W chromosome of females, one can diagnose sex by routine genetic techniques. Once sex-specific fragments of DNA are detected, those regions will be sequenced to generate primers for a reliable PCR-based assay for sex. Once verified for Cryptobranchus, these primer sequences will be published, allowing other researchers access to this powerful tool. Another component of this study will test the effectiveness of these techniques in both species of Andrias. Given the close relationships within Cryptobranchidae, we expect this diagnostic to be widely effective across the family.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2008

Project Title:  Physical and Chemical Properties of Eastern Hellbender Microhabitat. Peter J. Petokas, Ph.D., Research Associate, Department of Biology, Lycoming College. Awarded $900 in 2008

Project Summary:

To quantify the physical and chemical properties of Eastern Hellbender microhabitat. This information can then be used to assess the suitability of stream reaches for Hellbender reintroduction. Hellbender microhabitats generally occur as cavities beneath large stream and inside underwater rock caves and crevices. This study will quantify the properties of undisturbed microhabitat by assessing: a) cavity size (depth, width, height), b) orientation of cavity entrances to channel and hydrological features, c) water velocity at cavity entrances, d) dissolved oxygen concentration inside and outside the cavities, d) basic water chemistry (pH, alkalinity, etc.) in the adjacent stream channel, e) light intensity inside the cavities, f) water temperature inside and outside the cavities, f) stream pavement type and composition, and g) the presence/absence of Hellbenders inside the cavities. By comparing occupied and unoccupied cavities, caves, and crevices, we will determine the range-of-variation and the relative importance of measured microhabitat variables. This information can then be used to design and construct habitat features to enhance existing stream habitat and/or to identify the best reaches for the release of captive-reared Hellbenders. This project has a high probability of success and will provide the detailed information needed for sound conservation planning.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2007

Project Title:  Effects of field use of tricane on amphibians. J. Kelley Bryan, Graduate Student, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida. Awarded $500 in 2007

Project Summary:

To develop a protocol for field use of MS-222 based on behavioral and physiological data gathered from this study. Specifically, the impact of MS-222 on behavioral responses to environmental cues, immune function, development, and gross anatomy will be studied in an effort to develop a protocol that assesses the difference between the impact of off-label field use and the prescribed use of the drug on the animals.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2006

Project Title:  Testing the efficacy of hyporheic well traps for sampling larval Eastern hellbenders. Gregory Lipps, LLC, Herpetologist.  Awarded $500 in 2006

Project Summary:

To survey for the larvae of the Eastern Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis, in (undisclosed creek) in Ohio. This creek population is believed to be the largest and healthiest population in the state, and therefore, the most likely to have successful recruitment. Despite this, Hellbender larvae have never been found within this creek, or anywhere else in the state. The project will hopefully provide additional information concerning the habitat use of larval Hellbenders and begin the process of developing a methodology for surveying for larvae. Success will be measured by the capture of larval Hellbenders in Ohio, which would be a first in Ohio’s history.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2005

Project Title:  Health and habitat survey of the Eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in Ohio and West Virginia. Barbara Wolfe, DVM, PhD, DACZM. (The Wilds, Columbus Zoo and The Good Zoo at Oglebay) Awarded $500 in 2006

Project Summary:

The purpose of this project is to improve hellbender conservation by surveying and monitoring the health of hellbender populations and current and historic habitats in Ohio watersheds to determine potential threats to hellbenders in this area. Researchers will comparatively analyze the general health of these populations and the differences between habitats in the Ohio streams to the habitat at (undisclosed creek), WV that supports a vigorous population of hellbenders. These efforts have the potential to greatly impact conservation of hellbenders in Ohio and the surrounding region.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2005

Project Title: Developing environmentally sound and efficient trapping techniques to study hellbenders in Tennessee. Dale McGinnity, Nashville Zoo and Brian Miller, Middle Tennessee University Awarded $500 in 2005

 Project Summary:

To develop an environmentally sound and efficient survey technique for hellbenders.  Hellbenders are often collected while snorkeling and lifting slab rock and small boulders in water 0.5 – 2 meters in depth, or by use of scuba gear and lifting rocks in deeper water.  However, in some streams, rocks are too large to be lifted and in other streams, rock turning may be harmful to populations.  For example, lifting large cover rocks may alter their suitability as a future nest site.  Often, the upstream edges of these rocks are below the substrate and when lifted, the leading edge is dislodged from the substrate allowing water to flow under the rock when it is replaced.  Rocks with appropriate hydrodynamics for nesting may be a limiting factor in some populations.  Therefore, we believe non-destructive diurnal survey techniques should be developed.  Baited traps have been successful in catching hellbenders in previous studies. However, neither of the traps used to capture hellbenders in these rivers were designed specifically for hellbenders.  We believe a trap designed to the unusual morphology and behavior of hellbenders may produce an efficient and environmentally sound survey technique.  Also, we plan to use an inexpensive camera system to monitor traps and to test the suitability of these cameras to survey for hellbenders under rocks.  Success will be measured by the ability to collect or locate specimens during daylight hours without altering their microhabitats.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2004

Project Title:  Creating a community awareness program for local canoeists and campers in the Ozarks of Missouri to reduce negative interaction between people and hellbenders and their habitat. Amber Pitt, Florida Museum of Natural History. Awarded $500 in 2004

Project Summary:

To develop a community awareness program in the Ozarks of Missouri focused on streamside landowners and river users to reduce the negative interactions between people and hellbenders and their habitat.  Between June and August 2004, I initiated a pilot education program for canoeists and canoe ranch operators in an attempt to increase awareness and decrease negative interactions.  I hung laminated hellbender posters provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at public canoe launches and distributed informational packets, including posters and “help the hellbender” stickers from the MDC to local canoe ranches.  I urged the owners to hang the posters in visible locations such as gift shops and bathrooms and place the stickers on canoes.  I discussed the possibility of expanding this effort in the future to include educational talks at nighttime as most canoeists were overnight guests at the ranches’ campgrounds.  This idea was given a positive reception.  In summer 2005, I propose to continue this educational initiative by providing nighttime programs to campers.  Formative surveys would be conducted at the campgrounds and summative surveys of canoeists, some conducted while they are on the river, will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of the programs.  The results would determine if the program should serve as a model to be utilized.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2004

Project Title: Monitoring giant salamanders in Japan using radio telemetry, gaining insight into population structure and habitat usage. Sumio Okada, Tottori University. Awarded $500 in 2004

Project Summary:

In this study, we will use radio telemetry to evaluate the extent and characteristics of movements by Andrias japonicus, Japanese giant salamander, to better understand the population structure of the species.  Of particular interest are movements between distinct sections of riverine habitat in the study area.  We hypothesize these inter-section movements are largely restricted to specific groups within the population, involved with breeding behavior, and may be affected by population density.  In testing this hypothesis we will gather crucial baseline data on movement patterns, breeding behavior and population structure of this species in natural habitat.  The habitat of this rare salamander is increasingly fragmented by dams, effectively separating many populations.  Data on movements, especially dispersal between river sections, will aid in setting conservation priorities by highlighting critical groups within populations, and defining demographic units relevant to management actions.

 

Ron Goellner Conservation Grant Recipient 2004

Project Title: Examining population structure, seasonal activity and larval density of Eastern hellbenders in North Carolina. Jeff Humphries, Clemson University. Awarded $500 in 2004

Project Summary:

1.) To determine population size and density of hellbenders in selected western North Carolina streams. 2.) Verify population structure (ratio of adults, juveniles and larvae; adult body size differences) related to stream size and how it may vary among main stream stems and tributaries of the main stream. 3.) Ascertain if there is a seasonal difference in nocturnal activity of hellbenders in selected streams and how the activity of southern Appalachian populations compares to activity reported in the central Appalachians. 4.) Establish methods for detecting and monitoring larval and juvenile hellbenders.