Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Nebraska
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Nebraska News and Information Activities

News Item Date
Little talks turkey population research on RFD-TV - Nebraska is a destination for wild turkey hunting each fall, but declining turkey numbers have been reported.
Over the past year, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has been part of a collaborative research project studying Nebraska turkey populations to get a better idea of why populations fluctuate and the drivers of those changes. Andy Little, an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and a co-leader of the project, joined RFD-TV recently to talk about the research and why how it benefits the state of Nebraska.
Go to the web address to watch the video.
February 2024
USGS Cooperative Research Unit Corner: The Wetlands of Nebraska Project - The Wetlands of Nebraska project highlights the importance of wetlands through videos and stories that take place across Nebraska’s diverse landscapes. This project was led by the U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, in collaboration with Platte Basin Timelapse, Ducks Unlimited, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL).

Wetlands are considered one of the most productive and biologically rich ecosystems in the world, supporting an array of plant and animal life and driving many important ecosystem functions. Wetlands are highly dynamic systems, ebbing and flowing from dry to wet periods in a matter of weeks, months, seasons, or even years. Wetlands have different meanings to different people, which can create divisions between how we feel about them and their value. Wetlands throughout history have been viewed as places of muck, mosquito-infested lagoons, where disease runs rampant, and in turn, must be drained and concreted over. Through science, our understanding of the important benefits that wetlands provide has grown. However, many people are not aware of these benefits, and this is a major reason that the Wetlands of Nebraska project was initiated.

Over the last 200 years, Nebraska experienced a 35% decrease in wetland acres from 2.9 million to 1.9 million. Even with this loss, Nebraska contains some form of wetland in each of its 93 counties.

There are four major types of wetlands in Nebraska including Riverine, Playa, Sandhills, and Saline/Alkaline. In addition, an urban wetland category was thought necessary to incorporate as many wetlands don’t fit into the other categories, such as the ones within our urban centers. These wetlands are dynamic and diverse and include everything from marshes, lake edges, river and stream edges, backwater sloughs, oxbows, wet meadows, fens, forested floodplains, salt flats, and freshwater seeps.

Wetlands perform functions such as flood control, carbon sequestration, erosion control, nutrient retention, and groundwater recharge. Wetlands are a great place for recreational activities like canoeing, fishing, waterfowl hunting, and hiking. Migratory and resident wildlife use wetlands as their stopover habitat, breeding grounds, and homes. Specialized and unique plant communities live only in these watery habitats. All these functions are vital to the survival of animals, plants, and humans alike.

Funding was provided through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant and matching funds were provided by Ducks Unlimited, UNL, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The project fulfilled the goals of advocating for wetlands and created outreach materials that will better help the public understand the beauty, diversity, and importance of Nebraska’s wetland resources. The products from this project include an updated Nebraska Wetlands guidebook, a student wetland activity booklet, educational material for schools, and a series of multimedia products, including five films and ESRI StoryMaps.

The Wetlands of Nebraska project took over three years to complete. It started conversations around wetlands and engaged the public through presentations to a variety of groups with diverse audiences throughout Nebraska and beyond. It even took the core team outside of the state to follow along the important migratory flight path of blue-winged teal from South Dakota’s prairie pothole region to the coastal marshes of Louisiana, emphasizing how important their stopover is in the wetlands of Nebraska.

The five films produced by Platte Basin Timelapse documented each wetland category showcasing a diversity of species, giving scale to interconnected landscapes, and hearing from people living and working among those wetlands. The films have garnered attention from many people, with a total of 8,124 views to date. An article in the May 2023 issue of the NEBRASKAland magazine featured this project. Additionally, five Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) StoryMaps were created giving behind-the-scenes stories of what it is like to explore the various wetlands of Nebraska. The Wetlandology magazine was created for use in 4th-grade classrooms around the state, and a total of 34,000 copies were distributed. Access to information about wetlands will help students learn about these unique ecosystems right outside their door and showcase the conservation value wetlands have. The updated Guide to Nebraska’s Wetlands has been distributed to 18 different states and accessed through the online version by people from 17 different countries around the world. In early 2024, lesson plans on two key topics, animal engineers and wetland plant adaptations, were released on the Nebraska Game and Parks Wetlands of Nebraska website.

It will take a collective effort to raise awareness about Nebraska’s wetland resources through continued outreach. Most importantly, it will be imperative that we show the beauty of wetland ecosystems, so they can be protected and made available for future generations to enjoy.

Through these multimedia products, the collaborators hope to shift perspectives on what wetlands mean to the present and future. Creating awareness about why wetlands matter, and the conservation work being done to restore and conserve Nebraska’s wetlands is a huge part of why this project matters.

Ted LaGrange Nebraska’s Wetlands Program Manager who was part of the team that got this project underway stated that, “There was an important need to highlight the critical benefits that wetlands in Nebraska provide and to tell the stories of the people working to conserve these wetlands. The team working on this project, including the talented crew at Platte Basin Timelapse, did an outstanding job in addressing this need. The final products tell an amazing story that is worth checking out and will benefit wetland conservation well into the future.”

The ONB features articles from Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, U.S. Geological Survey. The Units are leading exciting, new fish and wildlife research projects that we believe our readers will appreciate reading about. This story was written by Dakota Altman (He/Him/His),, School of Natural Resources - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Producer, Instructor, Conservation Storyteller, Platte Basin Timelapse
January 2024
USGS Cooperative Research Unit Corner: Native Prairie Stream Fishes in Nebraska’s Sandhills Ecoregion - The Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Dr. Jonathan Spurgeon’s Lab is centered on understanding distribution and population demographics of native prairie stream fishes. Greater than half of known fish diversity is supported by freshwater that accounts for approximately 3% of global water supply.

Northern Redbelly DaceFlowing systems account for a small fraction of freshwater systems and support multiple biological hotspots of species diversity. Historically, patterns of species diversity can be attributed to habitat variation driven by natural processes such as seasonal flooding, underlying geology, and stream morphology. However, these stream habitat patterns have more recently been subjected to fragmentation and channelization caused by climate change and anthropogenic stressors. In this globally changing landscape, it is important to understand how habitat patterns are shifting and the resulting influences on the species dependent on them.

The Sandhills Ecoregion is in north-central Nebraska and spans 49,000 km2 of grass-stabilized sand dunes characterized by mixed-grass prairies with sparse vegetation and sand topsoil. The connection between the Ogallala Aquifer and surface waters within the Sandhills Ecoregion maintains unique groundwater-fed streams. Streams within the Sandhills Ecoregion are characterized as clear and slow moving with cool water temperatures. Historically, Sandhills Ecoregion streams were highly connected to the floodplain providing ample feeding and spawning habitat. Further, there exists a limited human population density in the Sandhills Ecoregion. Land coverage is primarily pasture used for a mix between grazing and hay production. The hydrological characteristics and cool-water temperatures of Sandhills Ecoregion streams may afford a level of ecological resilience to fragmentation and changing climate conditions with limited information available on native species distributions and population demographics.

In collaboration with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, multiple landowners, University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, and Nebraska CRU, the project goals are to build a knowledge base regarding the Sandhills Ecoregion and at-risk fish species therein. To achieve these goals, multiple projects are being conducted on Sandhills Ecoregion streams to characterize their environmental conditions along with species assemblages, distribution, and demographic rates.

Researchers are describing the associations between at-risk species and the abiotic and biotic environmental variables of the Sandhills Ecoregion using multi-scale, multi-species occupancy models. These models utilize multiple samples taken from the same reach to model the occurrence probability of target species while also accounting for imperfect detection. The target species of this project are: Finescale Dace Chrosomus neogaeus, Northern Pearl Dace Margariscus nachtriebi, Northern Redbelly Dace, Lake Chub Couesius plumbeus, Plains Minnow, and Flathead Chub.
This project will also seek to identify associations between temporal trends of species occurrence and anthropogenic stresses by resampling historical sites from statewide streams surveys. Results from this project will help describe which environmental variables and different scales species occurrence is associated with while also describing the anthropogenic stressors affecting species distribution.

An additional project aims to define the habitat needs of tier-1 species, Flathead Chub Platygobio gracilis, Plains Minnow Hybognathus placitus, and Northern Redbelly Dace Chrosomus eos, to explain and predict distribution in Nebraska streams using species distribution modeling.

Species distribution models predict the occurrence of species based on the statistical relationship between presence of a species and environmental conditions at multiple spatial or temporal scales. These models may be used to infer which environmental features are important to the distribution of tier-1 fish species in Nebraska, thus informing monitoring and management of these at-risk species.

Lastly, the team is conducting a study on Northern Pearl Dace Margariscus nachtriebi, which is a tier-II threatened species in Nebraska. The distribution of Northern Pearl Dace in Nebraska represents the southernmost extent of the species range and is isolated from the core distribution. Northern Pearl Dace in Nebraska reside in prairie streams of the Sandhills Ecoregion. Northern Pearl Dace are an important indicator species that is intolerant of degradation (decreased fish habitat, incision of the stream channel sedimentation, etc.) caused by stream geomorphic changes (i.e., channelization).

There is a lack of understanding regarding how stream geomorphic changes effect Northern Pearl Dace population demographics (i.e., survival, movement, abundance) and connectivity among Sandhills Ecoregion streams. Estimating the population size and survival of rare and at-risk species is challenging as capture-recapture data can be difficult to obtain. However, estimates of the effects of geomorphic alterations on these parameters are crucial to understand how degradation and restoration of distinct habitat features could impact Northern Pearl Dace populations.

The ONB features articles from Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units across the country. Working with key cooperators, including WMI, Units are leading exciting, new fish and wildlife research projects that we believe our readers will appreciate reading about. This article was written by Jonathan Spurgeon,, Assistant Unit Leader, Nebraska CRU, and Joseph Spooner, Braxton Newkirk, Connor Hart. Joe, Braxton, and Connor are M.S. students in Jonathan Spurgeon’s Lab.
July 2023
Ancient fish, modern problem: How the pallid sturgeon could be a warning for the Missouri River - Every day in the spring and fall when water temperatures are right, a team of scientists meet at a boat ramp off the Platte River in Nebraska. Waders on, they board an airboat and head to the fishing lines they baited with worms the night before.

A graduate student leans forward on the boat, reaching for a line and reeling it in.

“Looks like there’s a fish or two on,” said Mark Pegg, a fisheries ecologist and professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Might not be the right fish.”

Plenty of catfish, carp and shovelnose sturgeons took the bait, but that’s not what they’re hoping to find swimming in this tributary of the Missouri River.

They’re looking for the endangered pallid sturgeon, a funny-looking fish with a long snout and humped back, all covered in sandy scales.

Since the age of the dinosaurs, pallid sturgeon have swum in what became the Missouri River. They survived mass extinctions and multiple ice ages.

But populations have plummeted over the last 90 years, as construction to protect against flooding and increase navigability in the Missouri River have impacted the fish’s ability to survive.

In 1933, engineers with the Army Corps started building dams, pushing in river beds and removing miles of slow, calm side streams. It deepened the river and sped up the water’s pace to create a navigation channel for the shipping industry.

The projects largely eliminated the fish’s habitat, and Wayne Nelson-Stastny with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said soon it was rare to catch a young pallid sturgeon.

“What they were capturing was older fish, never anything in the small, young type pallids,” he said. “And so there was a major concern about ‘Are we going to have this population go extinct?’”

It took millions of years of evolution for pallids to reach their efficient form, uniquely suited to the Missouri River, said Nelson-Stastny.

“If you were going to design a fish in an engineering program to adapt to the Missouri River, where you can’t see but you can smell, you can hear, and you have to be able to handle the currents, a pallid sturgeon is what you would design,” he said.

Biologists were worried about what it meant if this fish — so in tune with the river — was struggling.

The pallid sturgeon joined the endangered species list in 1990, and the Corps of Engineers adopted an action plan to rehabilitate the species.

“The Corps is required to address its impacts on the pallid sturgeon,” said Joe Bonneau, a program manager with the agency. “That includes a hatchery and habitat restoration projects on the lower river.”

Recovery efforts
Chris Hooley is a fish biologist at the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery in Yankton, South Dakota, where they raise baby pallids from eggs and release them into the river to keep the population going. They also track the fish to learn more about its habits and what it needs to survive in the river.

“This serves as a genetic backup for the pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River,” he said. “Field crews go out onto the river, catch the fish and bring them to the hatchery, and we’ll raise their offspring before we release them and tag them for tracking.”

Eventually, biologists want the fish to reproduce naturally and grow in the Missouri, without their help. To do that, scientists think baby pallids need side streams of slow, shallow waters to grow up without getting swept up in a fast current – or a catfish’s mouth.

The Corps of Engineers has re-created those habitats by purchasing land from willing sellers. But changing stretches of the river to benefit endangered species hasn’t been popular. It came to a head after the region saw devastating floods in 2011 and 2019. Farmers blamed the habitat restoration projects for their damaged property.

“I've been in meetings where busloads of people show up and say, ‘My farm is not your laboratory,’” Nelson-Stastny said.

But to Gerald Mestl, who worked in Nebraska Game and Parks for decades, the pallid sturgeon has mistakenly become a scapegoat for larger problems on the river.

“The ecosystem is in trouble on the Missouri River. It's not the pallid sturgeon is in trouble,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that the message is lost. The river’s ecosystem supports a lot more than just the pallid sturgeon.”

Bigger problems on the Missouri
Mestl’s research found that narrowing the river for the navigation industry increased flood heights and frequencies. He said undoing those projects and widening the river could restore habitat for animals like the pallid sturgeon and make more room for flood years.

“Yes, it will cost a lot of money,” Mestl said. “But we will have a system that will meet our needs today and for a long way in the future.”

A future that will likely include more flooding as intense storms occur more often in the region.

Rezaul Mahmood, a climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has studied how storms in the Missouri River basin have changed over the last 70 years.

His research showed extreme precipitation events have gotten worse and more frequent over the years, which signals that increased flooding is likely in the Midwest and Great Plains.

“Our engineered systems are not designed to deal with this,” Mahmood said. “We designed the system based on historical records. But when nature itself changes course, it becomes much more difficult.”

Adapting the river for the future climate reality may require a new balancing act between environment, animals and the people that live along the river and depend on it for farming, navigation, recreation and hydropower.

Luckily, Bonneau said stakeholders already have a blueprint for that teamwork, through the case study of the pallid sturgeon.

“That’s one thing pallid sturgeon are teaching us,” he said. “There are solutions that can address stakeholder needs and the purposes of the river. It takes a lot of effort, good science and teamwork, but we’ve done it on the Missouri River, because of the pallid sturgeon.”

This story was produced in partnership with Harvest Public Media, a collaboration of public media newsrooms in the Midwest. It reports on food systems, agriculture and rural issues.
June 2023
Wetlands of Nebraska releases new educational content - by Karlie Gerlach | IANR Communications

May 31, 2023Lincoln, Neb. — The Wetlands of Nebraska serve a greater purpose than many know as they improve water quality, recharge groundwater, reduce the impacts of flooding, provide a place to recreate, give plants and animals a home, and more.

The Nebraska Game and Parks and the Platte Basin Timelapse worked together to release new wetlands educational content to inform the public about Nebraska’s diverse wetland types and their importance to the state, its people, and its wildlife.

“Because of the many benefits that wetlands provide, it is important that people have good and up-to-date information about them. Over the years, there has been great progress made in helping provide this information and the recently completed Wetlands of Nebraska Outreach and Education project provides a wonderful new set of information for people to explore and learn,” said Ted LaGrange, Wetland Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The new resources were released just in time to celebrate World Wetlands Day in February and American Wetlands Month in May, but learning about these unique wetlands outside of these times is highly encouraged.

The new educational content was created in a sustainable way to make it easily accessible to the public. The content includes five documentary films, five digital stories, an educator guide, a new activity-filled booklet, and an updated guide that covers Nebraska’s wetlands.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded project was led by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in partnership with the Platte Basin Timelapse, the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Ducks Unlimited.

“I am confident that the public will learn some new things about wetlands and enjoy the quality of the products generated. They can also learn what actions are being taken to help conserve wetlands in Nebraska and what they can do to help,” said LaGrange.

The new resources and more can be found at
May 2023
2023 TWS WILDLIFE PUBLICATION AWARDS SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED - May 24, 2023 by Rick Spaulding, chair, TWS Wildlife Publication Awards Committee

Each year, TWS’ Wildlife Publication Awards Committee receives nominations of books, papers and monographs from authors, editors, publishers and colleagues.

For the 2023 awards, books and papers must have been published in 2020, 2021 or 2022. Committee members review the publications and score them based on five criteria. Based on the scores from all committee members, the book, paper and monograph receiving the highest total score is deemed the winner.

This is the third year for the student paper category, which recognizes excellence in scientific writing in which the lead author of a paper was a student. The paper represents work that was completed predominately while the lead author was a student and is eligible only if published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed publication within three years of graduating from an undergraduate or graduate program. (For more information on the criteria, please visit

In an effort to recognize the broad range of titles committee members review each year for TWS’ Wildlife Publication Awards, the committee has created a shortlist for each award category that includes the top five titles in each, in alphabetical order by title.

Authored Book
David W. Macdonald and Chris Newman. 2022. The Badgers of Wytham Woods: A Model for Behaviour, Ecology, and Evolution. Oxford University Press, UK.

Michael R. Conover and Denise O. Conover. 2022. Human-Wildlife Interactions: From Conflict to Coexistence. 2nd Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Johannes Foufopoulos, Gary A. Wobeser, and Hamish McCallum. 2022. Infectious Disease Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, UK.

Richard Sale and Steve Watson. 2022. The Peregrine Falcon. Snowfinch Publishing, Coberley, UK.

R. Terry Bowyer. 2022. Sexual Segregation in Ungulates: Ecology, Behavior, and Conservation. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Edited Book
Joshua M. Kapfer and Donald J. Brown. eds. 2022. Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.

W. Andrew Marcus, James E. Meacham, Ann W. Rodman, Alethea Y. Steingisser, Justin T. Menke, and Ross West, eds. 2022. Atlas of Yellowstone. 2nd Edition. University of California Press, Oakland, CA.

Christine L. Madliger, Craig E. Franklin, Oliver P. Love, and Steven J. Cooke, eds. 2021. Conservation Physiology: Applications for Wildlife Conservation and Management. Oxford University Press, UK.

Kevin L. Pope and Larkin A. Powell. 2021. Harvest of Fish and Wildlife: New Paradigms for Sustainable Management. CRC Press, New York, NY.

Jennifer C. Owen, Dana M. Hawley, and Kathryn P. Huyvaert, eds. 2021. Infectious Disease Ecology of Wild Birds. Oxford University Press, UK.

Joseph M. Northrup, Charles R. Anderson Jr., Brian D. Gerber, and George Wittemyer. 2021. Behavioral and demographic responses of mule deer to energy development on winter range. Wildlife Monographs https://doi.org10.1002/wmon.1060.

Joshua H. Schmidt, William L. Thompson, Tammy L. Wilson, and Joel H. Reynolds. 2022. Distance sampling surveys: using components of detection and total error to select among approaches. Wildlife Monographs

Kenneth A. Logan and Jonathan P. Runge. 2020. Effects of hunting on a puma population in Colorado. Wildlife Monographs

Aimee Tallian, Andrés Ordiz, Matthew C. Metz, Barbara Zimmermann, Camilla Wikenros, Douglas W. Smith, Daniel R. Stahler, PetterWabakken, JonE.Swenson, Håkan Sand, and Jonas Kindberg. 2022. Of wolves and bears: Seasonal drivers of interference and exploitation competition between apex predators. Ecological Monographs

Gregory H. Golet, Kristen E. Dybala, Matthew E. Reiter, Kristin A. Sesser, Mark Reynolds, and Rodd Kelsey. 2022. Shorebird food energy shortfalls and the effectiveness of habitat incentive programs in record wet, dry, and warm years. Ecological Monographs

Journal Paper
Joshua C. Stiller, William F. Siemer, Kelly A. Perkins, and Angela K. Fuller. 2022. Choosing an optimal duck season: integrating hunter values and duck abundance. Wildlife Society Bulletin

Vincent A. Slabe, James T. Anderson, Brian A. Millsap, Jeffrey L. Cooper, Alan R. Harmata, Marco Restani, Ross H. Crandall, Barbara Bodenstein, Peter H. Bloom, Travis Booms, John Buchweitz, Renee Culver, Kim Dickerson, Robert Domenech, Ernesto Dominguez-Villegas, Daniel Driscoll, Brian W. Smith, Michael J. Lockhart, David McRuer, Tricia A. Miller, Patricia A. Ortiz, Krysta Rogers, Matt Schwarz, Natalie Turley, Brian Woodbridge, Myra E. Finkelstein, Christian A. Triana, Christopher R. DeSorbo, Todd E. Katzner. 2022. Demographic implications of lead poisoning for eagles across North America. Science

Ana Miller-ter Kuile, Devyn Orr, An Bui, Rodolfo Dirzo, Maggie Klope, Douglas McCauley, Carina Motta, and Hillary Young. 2020. Impacts of rodent eradication on seed predation and plant community biomass on a tropical atoll. Biotropica

Clayton T. Lamb, Roland Willson, Carmen Richter, Naomi Owens-Beek, Julian Napoleon, Bruce Muir, R. Scott McNay, Estelle Lavis, Mark Hebblewhite, Line Giguere, Tamara Dokkie, Stan Boutin, and Adam T. Ford. 2022. Indigenous-led conservation: Pathways to recovery for the nearly extirpated Klinse-Za mountain caribou. Ecological Applications

Mason Fidino, Travis Gallo, Elizabeth W. Lehrer, Maureen H. Murray, Cria A. M. Kay, Heather A. Sander, Brandon Macdougall, Carmen M. Salsbury, Travis J. Ryan, Julia L. Angstmann, J. Amy Belaire, Barbara Dugelby, Christopher J. Schell, Theodore Stankowich, Max Amaya, David Drake, Sheryl H. Hursh, Adam A. Ahlers, Jacque Williamson, Laurel M. Hartley, Amanda J. Zellmer, Kelly Simon, and Seth B. Magle. 2021. Landscape-scale differences among cities alter common species’ responses to urbanization. Ecological Applications

Student Paper
Daniel F. Hofstadter, Nicholas F. Kryshak, Connor M. Wood, Brian P. Dotters, Kevin N. Roberts, Kevin G. Kelly, John J. Keane, Sarah C. Sawyer, Paula A. Shaklee, H. Anu Kramer, R. J. Gutiérrez, and M. Zachariah Peery. 2022. Arresting the spread of invasive species in continental systems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Ana Miller-ter Kuile, Devyn Orr, An Bui, Rodolfo Dirzo, Maggie Klope, Douglas McCauley, Carina Motta, and Hillary Young. 2020. Impacts of rodent eradication on seed predation and plant community biomass on a tropical atoll. Biotropica

Taylor R. Ganz, Melia T. DeVivo, Brian N. Kertson, Trent Roussin, Lauren Satterfield, Aaron J. Wirsing, and Laura R. Prugh. 2022. Interactive effects of wildfires, season and predator activity shape mule deer movements. Journal of Animal Ecology

Stillman, A. N., T. J. Lorenz, P. C. Fischer, R. B. Siegel, R. L. Wilkerson, M. Johnson, and M. W. Tingley. 2021. Juvenile survival of a burned forest specialist in response to variation in fire characteristics. Journal of Animal Ecology 90.

Rebecca K. Mckee, Kurt A. Buhlmann, Clinton T. Moore, Jeffrey Hepinstall‐Cymerman, and Tracey D. Tuberville. 2021. Waif gopher tortoise survival and site fidelity following translocation. Journal of Wildlife Management

The committee hopes that these shortlists provide some recognition to well-deserved authors and highlight outstanding books, journal papers and monographs worthy of TWS members’ attention. The winner of each category will be notified in June.

The winning authors/editors and publishers of each book category will be denoted by electronic and physical stickers stating that the title is the winner of TWS Wildlife Publication Award. The electronic version can be used by authors and publishers to highlight their award-winning title on websites and brochures used in conferences or other venues. The physical version can be affixed directly to the book to be displayed in bookstores, at conference booths, etc.

The sticker is meant to recognize excellence in scientific writing characterized by originality of research or thought and a high scholastic standard in the manner of presentation. In addition, the sticker promotes the wildlife publication award as given by TWS, the preeminent international association of wildlife professionals dedicated to excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Rick Spaulding, Chair, TWS Wildlife Publication Awards Committee, at
May 2023
Trapping Turkeys - Photos and story by Justin Haag
A new research effort is aiming to uncover mysteries about Nebraska’s wild turkeys.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers have teamed up with Nebraska Game and Parks to trap turkeys, measure them, collect samples and outfit them with GPS transmitters and leg bands. Over time, researchers will learn about turkey movements, habitat selection, nesting success and genetic diversity.

These variables all play a role in wild turkey population numbers, which have shown a decline in many regions of the state and nation in recent years.

Trapping began in late January and February at multiple sites near Crawford and Trenton. About 60 turkeys, with a desired ratio of toms, hens and juveniles, will be tagged in each the northwest and the southwest regions for three consecutive years. Data collected will be used to inform management of the game bird, which has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.

A sock with its closed end cut off is placed over the turkeys’ heads to keep them calm during processing. Photo by Justin Haag.“Understanding wild turkey populations will allow us to hone in on the most important variables leading to their declines,” said Andrew Little, assistant professor at Nebraska and co-lead on the project. “We know with any ground-nesting bird, it’s a complex situation.”

He looks forward to calls from hunters who harvest banded turkeys this spring. Hunters will learn a little about their birds, including where they were trapped.

Follow along with the project at, or
May 2023
Husker-led study to focus on Nebraska’s wild turkey populations - Through a new study, University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers seek to understand wild turkey populations across Nebraska, including survival and harvest rates and resource selection.

The five-year study, funded by a $1.8 million grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, is a collaboration among Nebraska U., the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the University of Georgia.

Nebraska currently has limited information on wild turkey reproduction, their distribution across various landcover types, their genetic diversity or the effects of hunter harvest. Each of these variables plays a role in wild turkey population numbers, which have shown a general decline across the state in recent years.

“This project will provide insight into the dynamics of our turkey populations, which have declined about 45% in the past 15 years,” said Luke Meduna, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, citing numbers based on rural mail carrier surveys.

The study aims to set a baseline for wild turkey numbers, their annual reproduction and survival rates, their resource selection and movements. Data collected will be used to inform management decisions of this important game bird species.

Researchers will focus their efforts primarily in southwest Nebraska and the Pine Ridge area, where wild turkeys will be captured, banded and outfitted with GPS units over the next three years. Turkeys will be monitored throughout the year, with an emphasis on nesting and roost locations during peak seasons.

“This research will be the first of its kind in Nebraska,” said Andrew Little, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources at Nebraska and co-lead on the project. “Nebraska is considered a destination wild turkey hunting state for many resident and non-resident hunters. With recent evidence of general population declines from Nebraska Game and Parks biologists and many other states across the U.S., now is the time to improve our understanding of wild turkey populations.
This research will ensure the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and landowners across Nebraska have the most current information to make informed land management decisions for wild turkey populations.”

The research team, which includes Little’s Applied Wildlife Ecology and Spatial Movement Lab and the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, will work closely with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska landowners over the course of the study.
November 2022
IANR KRVN Interview November 26, 2022 - UNL IANR Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm shares information on the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, with a focus on upcoming work on Wild Turkey. November 2022
IANR KRVN Interview November 19, 2022 - UNL IANR Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm shares information on the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, with a focus on work on Pearl Dace. November 2022
IANR KRVN Interview November 12, 2022 - UNL IANR Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm shares information on the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. November 2022
Eek! Squeak! Husker scientist listens for Nebraska’s bats - -by Leslie Reed, University Communication and Marketing.

Elusive creatures of the night, bats are a popular symbol of Halloween. They fly silently and erratically in the dark. They hide in nooks and crannies and caves.
Because of those ghostly qualities, humans often don’t realize when bats are nearby.

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln scientist is working with the U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and other federal and state agencies to use acoustic detectors to survey bat species and populations in Nebraska and identify where different species occur.

Christopher Fill, a research scientist with the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has served as the Nebraska coordinator for the North American Bat Monitoring Program since 2020.

“Many landowners don’t think they have any bats on their property, because they don’t see them,” he said. “I conduct bat acoustic surveys all summer, and I hardly ever see them. But if you set out acoustic detectors, you learn bats are out there — you just didn’t know it.”

As coordinator of Nebraska’s bat monitoring program, Fill works with about 100 Nebraska landowners and a crew of volunteers from Nebraska Game and Parks and the university’s Master Naturalist program to place bat-detecting acoustic equipment at over 100 locations across Nebraska. The sound-activated detectors identify the presence of bats by recording their calls, which vary by species according to frequency and pattern.

Bat calls normally are outside human hearing range, except when they’re frightened or angry. Fill said he’s also heard mother bats chirping to their babies in trees used as maternity colonies during the spring and summer.

“For some bat species, several female bats will rear their babies together in a tree,” he said. “Sometimes as you walk by the tree, you can hear them chatting to each other with high squeaking noises, somewhere between a mouse and a bird.”
Fill, who has studied bats in Nebraska for almost five years, said about 13 bat species have been found in Nebraska. Most are tree-loving species found in the wooded areas of the eastern part of the state, but some of these also follow the Missouri and Niobrara river valleys into the upper Panhandle near Chadron and the Pine Ridge.

According to the monitoring program, bats are important to the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and, because of their longevity and sensitivity to changes in their environment, are considered to be important bioindicators for ecosystem health. They contribute to agriculture because they consume large numbers of insects during the growing season.

The most common species found statewide in Nebraska are big brown bats, eastern red bats, hoary bats and silver-haired bats. Three species of bats vulnerable to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease discovered in North America in 2006, also occur in Nebraska: northern long-eared bats, little brown bats and tri-colored bats. Northern long-eared bats have been listed a federally threatened species, while efforts are underway to designate all three species as endangered.
Nebraska has been part of the North American Bat Monitoring Program, which also covers Canada and Mexico, since 2015. Last year, Nebraska collected its fewest number of northern long-eared bat calls since the program began.
After spending most of his summer traveling to detection sites, Fill has completed this year’s fieldwork and now is compiling and analyzing data. Although bats remain active in autumn, researchers don’t want to interrupt mating, hibernation and migration preparations that occur in the fall.

Fill said initial results for 2022 indicate even fewer northern long-eared bat identifications.

More analysis is required before conclusions can be drawn. Analysis may additionally be hampered from an inability to sample a majority of sites in 2019 and 2020 because of historic flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The program standardizes the data collection process so that it’s uniform and comparable,” Fill said. “This allows researchers from across the country to get a better idea of bat distributions, trends and declines along with a better sense of how bats are doing. It’s not perfect, but bats are so difficult to study, it’s hard to come up with anything that would be.”

Fill supplements data collected with stationary detectors with mobile driving surveys using a detector attached to the top of a car, as well as occasional capture surveys.

“After sunset, we’ll drive a route between our sampling points, often along gravel and dirt back roads, to collect bat calls,” he said. “With this particular detector, we can see and hear the bats when they fly over the car.”

In a previous project in 2018 and 2019, Fill set up arrays of acoustic detectors in farm fields, prairies and wooded areas near Homestead National Monument outside Beatrice, Nebraska. In addition to tracking northern long-eared bats and white-nose syndrome, he developed “heat maps” that showed bats’ foraging patterns in different landscapes. He found bats are most active along the edges of fields and near wooded areas and streams, which may encourage farmers to retain those landscape features to maximize the insect-reduction benefit they receive from bats.
October 2022
Barlow receives national fellowship on water and environmental policy - - Geitner Simmons, IANR Media, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Brandon Barlow, a MS candidate for a National Resources Science degree with a specialization in Adaptive Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources, has been awarded a National Sea Grant John A. Knauss Policy Fellowship. The fellowship is a national program that places exceptional, early-career graduate students with host offices of the federal government for a one-year fellowship in Washington, D.C.

Barlow is a graduate research assistant for the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, completing a fisheries-related thesis and helping survey recreational anglers.
His fellowship, announced by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will begin in Washington in January 2023.

Since 1979, nearly 1,500 fellows have completed the program. Fellows have become leaders in science, policy and public administration.

“As a multidisciplinary academic,” Barlow said, “I recognize the incredible potential of collaborating with people of various professional and cultural backgrounds to solve problems. In the future, I hope to find myself in a professional position that provides plenty of opportunities to collaborate with others on a variety of subjects.”
The Knauss program, he said, “has the resources to help me continue my professional journey toward this goal.”

Barlow graduated high school in Nashville, Tennessee, and earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Miami in water, wetlands and marine resources management.

“Knauss Fellows have a unique opportunity,” said John A. Downing, director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program, “to directly apply their scientific knowledge and skills to creating smart water and environmental policy for the benefit of the people of the USA. Never before has there been more need to engage brilliant young minds to assist our federal agencies and policy-makers to bring sound science to policy and management for the benefit of us all.”
August 2022
Minnesota Sea Grant Announces 2023 National Knauss Policy Fellowship Finalists - ST. PAUL and DULUTH, Minn. — The University of Minnesota Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces five 2023 Minnesota finalists for the prestigious National Sea Grant John A. Knauss Policy Fellowship for ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.

The Knauss Fellowship is a national program that places exceptional, early-career graduate students with host offices of the federal government for a one-year fellowship in Washington, D.C. Since 1979, nearly 1,500 fellows have completed the program. Fellows have become leaders in science, policy, and public administration.

“Knauss Fellows have a unique opportunity to directly apply their scientific knowledge and skills to creating smart water and environmental policy for the benefit of the people of the USA,” said MNSG Director John A. Downing. “Multiple serious crises need scientific solutions. Never before has there been more need to engage brilliant young minds to assist our federal agencies and policy-makers to bring sound science to policy and management for the benefit of us all.”

This year’s class of 86 finalists comprises students and recent graduates from 62 distinct universities, including 16 finalists from nine minority-serving institutions. The finalists represent 29 of the 34 Sea Grant programs. Finalists completed coursework and research in a range of fields, such as biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering, environmental science and management, law, marine and coastal sciences and policy, and several disciplines of oceanography. Of the 86 finalists, 54% are seeking a master's degree, 44% are seeking a Ph.D. and 2% are seeking a J.D.

“With five finalists, Minnesota Sea Grant is excited to support the most finalists in our program’s history,” said MNSG Research and Fellowship Coordinator Alex Frie. “This year, we worked to advertise the fellowship broadly to regional colleges and universities and streamlined the application process to make it easier for students to apply. The Knauss is an exceptional opportunity for graduate students to engage in science policy and planning and to build professional networks at the federal level.” MNSG had one finalist in 2018, 2019, and 2022.

The five Minnesota Knauss Fellowship finalists, along with the other 81 finalists from across the country, will be matched with their host office in the fall of 2022 and begin their year-long fellowships in February of 2023.

Placement of 2023 Knauss finalists as fellows is contingent on adequate federal funding in fiscal year 2023.
July 2022
Meeting Item Date
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - August 27, 2024. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee will be held at East Campus Student Union, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. August 2024
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 13, 2023. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held at East Campus Student Union, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. September 2023
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 14, 2022. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held at AKRS Champions Club, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. September 2022
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 8, 2021. [Virtual] The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. September 2021
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 22, 2020. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Coordinating Committee. The public portion of the Coordinating Committee Meeting was not held due to the pandemic. September 2020
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 17, 2019. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held at the Champions Club, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. September 2019
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - October 2, 2018. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held at the Champions Club, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. October 2018
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - October 3, 2017. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. October 2017
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - October 4, 2016. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. October 2016
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - October 13, 2015. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. October 2015
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting (10th Anniversary Celebration) - September 30, 2014. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and 10th anniversary celebration. September 2014
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - September 24, 2013. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. September 2013
Nebraska Coordinating Committe Meeting - September 20, 2012. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee. September 2012
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - October 6, 2011. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held in Lincoln, NE, on the UNL East Campus. Approximately 33 university and agency guests joined the Coop Unit scientists, staff and students to discuss unit progress and research programs. Presentations were given by 19 students. October 2011
Nebraska Coordinating Committee Meeting - November 2, 2010. The annual meeting of the Nebraska Unit and its Coordinating Committee was held at East Campus Union, University of Nebraska-Lincoln . November 2010