Title

Use of Artificial Nest Boxes to Facilitate Egg Collection for an Eastern Hellbender Head-Starting Program

Item Type

Poster

Location

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Session

Poster Presentations

Start Date

21-11-2014 8:00 PM

End Date

21-11-2014 10:00 PM

Description

Population declines have been taking place throughout the entire geographic range of the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) in North America. The declines and local extinctions have led to multiple head-starting programs to augment or restore hellbender populations. Once widespread throughout the Susquehanna River basin, the eastern hellbender is now restricted to several tributaries of the West Branch watershed. In order to establish a head-starting program for the Susquehanna River basin, we are collecting fertilized eggs to be transported to zoological facilities that are prepared to raise larval and juvenile hellbenders until they are of a size where they are unlikely to be subject to predation (3-5 years of age). To facilitate the collection of fertilized eggs, we installed 17 artificial nest boxes in the late summer of 2014. The boxes are distributed across three stream reaches occupied by hellbenders and within a single tributary of the West Branch watershed. The boxes are made of concrete and weigh 27 kg. By mid-September, no adult hellbenders had taken up residence in, nor had nested within, the concrete boxes. We now believe that the nest boxes should have been installed several months in advance of the nesting season so that adult hellbenders would have had more opportunities to find the boxes and take up residence. We plan to leave the boxes in place until the next nesting season, but will modify the boxes to darken the chamber, making it more suitable for permanent residency and egg deposition. In lieu of collecting eggs from the artificial nest chambers, we are currently searching for natural nests from which we hope to collect eggs to be transported to the head-start facility.

Language

eng

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Nov 21st, 8:00 PM Nov 21st, 10:00 PM

Use of Artificial Nest Boxes to Facilitate Egg Collection for an Eastern Hellbender Head-Starting Program

Elaine Langone Center, Terrace Room

Population declines have been taking place throughout the entire geographic range of the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) in North America. The declines and local extinctions have led to multiple head-starting programs to augment or restore hellbender populations. Once widespread throughout the Susquehanna River basin, the eastern hellbender is now restricted to several tributaries of the West Branch watershed. In order to establish a head-starting program for the Susquehanna River basin, we are collecting fertilized eggs to be transported to zoological facilities that are prepared to raise larval and juvenile hellbenders until they are of a size where they are unlikely to be subject to predation (3-5 years of age). To facilitate the collection of fertilized eggs, we installed 17 artificial nest boxes in the late summer of 2014. The boxes are distributed across three stream reaches occupied by hellbenders and within a single tributary of the West Branch watershed. The boxes are made of concrete and weigh 27 kg. By mid-September, no adult hellbenders had taken up residence in, nor had nested within, the concrete boxes. We now believe that the nest boxes should have been installed several months in advance of the nesting season so that adult hellbenders would have had more opportunities to find the boxes and take up residence. We plan to leave the boxes in place until the next nesting season, but will modify the boxes to darken the chamber, making it more suitable for permanent residency and egg deposition. In lieu of collecting eggs from the artificial nest chambers, we are currently searching for natural nests from which we hope to collect eggs to be transported to the head-start facility.