2019 Chihuahuan Desert Conference Poster Session Abstracts and Bios

Topic: Monitoring Large Mammals of Chihuahuan Desert Montane Chaparral in Far West Texas

Author:  Katheryn A. Vega

Poster Abstract: Indio Mountains Research Station (IMRS), located in the Chihuahuan Desert of Trans-Pecos, Texas, and surrounding private ranch lands, are home to both large invasive and native mammals. Biotic surveys help monitor species using the region, aid in conservation decisions, and help update land management strategies. Well documented distresses on large mammals are established by urban sprawl, hunting, and overall global changes due to human intervention. Ammotragus lervia, an exotic species, is in need of population control due to its destructive grazing habits, competition with natives, and by causing damage to soil profiles. Mammal presence and absence data and vegetation surveys on IMRS, will help us determine ecological health of the habitats and identify where wildlife and land management need attention. We hypothesized that all sites will contain primarily populations of herbivores, and lack felines.  Camera traps were utilized in five different sites, including Quercus and Juniperus lined arroyos and more xeric canyons on IMRS from June 2017-present; memory cards were examined every 3-4 weeks. Observations thus far indicated that Vulpes macrotis and Canis latrans are the main predators of A. lervia and O. hemionus within the sites.

About Author:  My name is Katheryn Vega, I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in biological sciences with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology summer of 2019. For more than two years I have been conducting a species diversity study in the Indio Mountain Research Center in an effort to identify large mammals that occur within that area as there is not much data within the area. My desire is to dedicate my life to assisting the conservation and preservation of the natural world. I have also been volunteering at the El Paso Zoo since February of 2019, working in area 2 helping zoo keepers with their everyday tasks. It’s been a wonderful experience that has truly helped me grow as a scientist and researcher. I do want to peruse my Master’s degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, during which I’d like to do research into the effects of microplastics that exist in our oceans on large marine mammals. Presenting my poster at this conference will allow me to receive helpful advice on bettering myself as a researcher as well as contribute towards the collection of data within the Trans Pecos region of North America.

Topic: Assessing the impact of climate change on the habitat suitability of Antilocapra americana through Climpact Data

Authors: Guillermo Hinojos-Mendoza2, Grethel Capistran-Torres1, Dulce Heredia-Corral1, Ricardo Soto-Cruz2 1 Department of Geospatial Intelligence – ASES 2 Committee of Research and Science – ASES

Poster Abstract:  Background – The Chihuahuan Desert is considered unique due to its isolation. The spatial distribution of species in this sensitive habitat is threatened by climate change. Antilocapra americana is only found in North America, so its preservation is a main concern for USA and Mexico. Purpose – The purpose of this study was to assess how climate change should affect habitat optimal conditions of Antilocapra americana in the Chihuahuan Desert. Methodology – ClimpactComplex was used to model actual and future (scenarios: 2050 and 2070, RCP8.5) spatial distribution. Climpact Complex analyzes seven bioclimatic and four environmental variables, together with worldwide specie observation points to predict, in climate change context, optimal conditions throughout time. The area per percentage of optimal conditions was also calculated. Results – Currently, suitable areas for Antilocapra americana are virtually found across the entire desert. Nevertheless, optimal conditions for its distribution are predicted to decrease due to climate change, in 2050 especially in the Mexican states of Coahuila de Zaragoza and Durango. In 2070 optimal conditions are forecasted to be found only in the north. It is forecasted that the area with 100% of optimal conditions will go from 631,307.52 km2 in 2019 to 525,682.93 km2 in 2050 (-16.73%) and to 230,028.44 km2 in 2070 (-56.24%).  Conclusion – Climate change will force pronghorns to adapt; the area in which 100% optimal conditions should be found is predicted to decrease 401,279 km2 (63.56%) by 2070 regarding the current scenario.

About Authors: Guillermo Hinojos Mendoza.- Founder and CEO of ASES (ecological engineering company aimed to protect the environment) with a long career in the field of ecology and climate change. Guillermo Hinojos has a Ph.D. in Science and engineering of at risk-activities from MINES ParisTech, specializing in the assessment of biodiversity loss risks and land use transformations due to climate change over time. Grethel Capistran Torres.- Master in Science in Landscape ecology and nature conservation from the University of Greifswald, Germany; has collaborated in several projects in matters of environmental impact and biodiversity conservation. She has been working in ASES for more than a year participating in research development, among other subjects. Dulce Heredia Corral.- Territorial Development engineer who has been working in ASES since 2015 in more than 100 projects towards sustainable development; performing in geographic information systems, ecological management and public policy. She has also participated as coauthor in various scientific articles and publications. Ricardo Soto Cruz.-  Range Management engineer specialized in natural resources management with broad experience in scientific research and as a university academic. During his career, he has participated in several books and published more than 10 scientific articles, gathering more than 20 scientific memoirs. Adding valuable scientific experience to ASES.

Topic: Population Distribution of Invasive Exotic Aoudad (Ammotragus lervia) and Their Potential Impacts to the Ecosystem and Archaeological Sites of Hueco Tanks

Author: Wendy Diaz
Poster Abstract:
Invasive exotic species introduction to new environments is a major threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. There is an increase in population density of invasive exotic ungulates outside their natural distribution range of rugged areas of Northern Africa due to human hunting interests. Unfortunately, we know little of the impacts these large herbivorous ungulates may have on the ecosystem. An investigation was conducted on the distribution of the invasive exotic aoudad, also known as barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) found in Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. Coordinates of aoudad scat found around the park were recorded using a handheld GPS, mapped, and compared with known archaeological sites. Results show large herds of aoudad present around the park and near archaeological sites. Aoudads are adapted to live in rugged, dry habitats that are too harsh for other animals which make them great competitors in the Chihuahuan Desert and specifically in Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. Thus, outcompeting other wildlife and potentially impacting the vegetation and archaeological sites, such as historical rock images left behind by native people who visited Hueco Tanks.

Wendy Diaz
is the Texas State Park Ambassador for Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site, sharing her passion and supporting public lands. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Wendy grew up with little to no outdoor experience, but always had a passion for the outdoors, nature, and wildlife. This led Wendy to pursue a background in biological sciences, pre-veterinary, zoology, wildlife and fisheries, and conservation. During her academic career, she participated in a variety of wildlife organizations and wildlife conservation research projects, and was secretary of the Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, where she encouraged the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields and spread the awareness of wildlife and conservation. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2017, she joined the Trans-Pecos Chapter of Texas Master Naturalist and became a certified Naturalist. Wendy has an extensive lab and field experience, including animal husbandry at the El Paso Zoo, burrowing owl conservation with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Attwater’s prairie chicken conservation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, sorting trail camera images for Global Wildlife Conservation, investigating feeding behavior of tropical fish, and cartography for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. She has continued her efforts to support conservation, and promote park and land stewardship.

Topic: Herbivore Exclosures Indicate Unrecognized Grass Restoration Potential in Mesquite Dunelands

Authors: Neeshia Macanowicz, Brandon Bestelmeyer and Darren James, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Jornada Experimental Range Unit, Las Cruces, NM 88003.

Poster Abstract: Arid environments are vulnerable to land degradation and changes in ecological states. Perennial grasses dominated the Chihuahuan Desert up until the last 150 years. Establishment of woody plants including Prosopis glandulosa (mesquite), Larrea tridentata (creosote) and Flourensia cernua (tarbush) have increased resulting in shrub-dominated landscapes. Grassland restoration from shrub-dominated states has proven difficult, and it is believed that high rates of soil erosion coupled to soil water competition by shrubs prevents grass recovery in dunelands. In 2016, we discovered 184 hardware mesh exclosures in a mesquite-dominated duneland on the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Jornada Experimental Range.  These exclosures were installed as part of an unrecorded experiment that was installed an estimated 15-40 years ago. Many exclosures contained the perennial Sporobolus (dropseed) grasses. We measured perennial grass density in exclosures and compared it to the density of grasses in 3,165 m2 of unprotected area surrounding the exclosures. Using a chi-square analysis, our results confirm Sporobolus recruitment or persistence in dune interspaces was significantly enhanced by the exclosures. This undocumented experiment suggests that protection from native and domestic herbivores can enhance the reestablishment of grasses in eroding areas. Shrub removal coupled with exclosures might be an even more effective means of recovering grasses in shrublands. Our observations indicate that herbivory may play a larger role than previously realized in grass recruitment in shrub-dominated states.

Neeshia Macanowicz is a Biological Science Technician with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, NM. Currently, her focus is on ecological restoration in the Chihuahuan desert through examination of differences in vegetation, soil moisture, and aeolian movement between degraded and reference grassland ecological states. She has also practiced restoration in Illinois using fire and invasive plant removal. Neeshia received her Master’s in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology from New Mexico State University where she studied macroinvertebrates in sinkholes at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NM). Outside of ridding her clothing of pet fur and collecting seeds, she plays a lot of music.

Topic: Endoparasite and Serological Survey of Kit Foxes (Vulpes macrotis) from White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Authors: Monica Cordova: Jessica Buskirk, Fitsum Abadi Gebreselassie and Gary W. Roemer

Poster Abstract: Not much is known about the ecology of the kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) population at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Many other kit fox populations in the western United States are either threatened or recovering, and factors that may contribute to population endangerment include habitat destruction, predation, and the introduction of canine diseases. Our objectives were to assay for specific canine pathogens, such as canine distemper virus, which could endanger the kit fox population, and gastrointestinal parasites, including Echinococcus spp., which are a known public health concern. Blood and fecal samples from kit foxes were collected from February – March 2019; serum was tested for antibodies against four selected pathogens and fecal samples were surveyed for endoparasites using fecal flotation. The proportion of kit fox sera (n=18) containing antibodies against canine parvovirus (CPV) was 44%; none of the foxes tested (n= 14) positive for canine adenovirus (CAV), canine distemper virus (CDV), or Coccidioides immitis. We documented eight species of parasite, including  4 round worms (phylum Nematoda): Ancylostoma caninum, Physaloptera sp., Toxascaris leonina, and Toxocara canis; 2 tapeworms (phylum Platyhelminthes, class Cestoda): Echinococcus sp. and Taenia sp.; 1 flatworm (phylum Platyhelminthes, class Trematoda): Alaria sp.; and a protozoan (phylum Apicomplexa, order Eucoccidiorida): Cystoisospora sp. Based on a Chi-square test of association, there were no significant differences in seroprevalence or parasite burden with respect to sex, age class, or habitat.

About Monica Cordova:  I am a senior majoring in Conservation Ecology at New Mexico State University. I have previously worked at the NMSU West Sheep Unit, caring for and tending to domestic sheep. I have a deep passion for animals and their health and wellbeing. It is my goal to get accepted into veterinary school and become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. With this degree, I would like to become a wildlife veterinarian and work closely with conservation biologists and wildlife researchers. Wildlife veterinarians use veterinary medicine to treat endangered animals and help conservation efforts. Since entering college, I have found ways to advance my ambitions through my involvement in the NMSU Pre-Vet club, volunteering at animal shelters, and most recently, obtaining a wonderful opportunity to conduct research through the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Scholars program. My research involves surveying the kit fox population for diseases and endoparasites at White Sands National Monument.

Topic: Factors affecting Western Burrowing Owl nest site selection of artificial burrow systems in Arizona

Authors: Kimberly I Fonseca (1) (S), Dejeanne Doublet (1), Martha J Desmond (1), David H Johnson (2), Fitsum Abadi (1) 1. Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003 2. Global Owl Project, Alexandria, VA 22310

Poster Abstract: The Western Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) is considered a Bird of Conservation Concern in the United States. Their decline is attributed to the eradication of fossorial mammals and habitat loss due to increased urbanization. Conservation efforts such as their translocation to artificial burrows systems (ABS) aim to provide new habitat for this species. Few studies directly assess important burrow features that play a role in nest site selection of ABS. Thus, we aim to understand the local-scale factors affecting nest site selection of Burrowing Owls at ABS. We conducted research at 4 sites across Maricopa and Pinal counties in Arizona. The factors assessed included nest chamber temperature, angle of the tunnel entrance, number of nearby perches, height of the tunnel entrance, and the configuration of the ABS (single or double entrance to the nest chamber). We used logistic regression models and AICc model ranking to determine the most relevant factors that contributed to owls choosing nest sites. Our preliminary results indicated that Burrowing Owls were more likely to nest in (1) single-entrance ABS over double-entrance ABS, (2) ABS with a shorter tunnel length, and (3) burrows that maintained cooler temperatures. Owls may use single entrance burrows and shorter tunnel lengths to obtain favorable microclimates. Double-entrance burrows are constructed by wildlife managers to potentially provide additional escape cover for nestlings; however, based on our results, we recommend constructing ABS with single entrance burrows that have tunnels shorter in length to increase nest site selection at ABS.

Kimberly Fonseca is an undergraduate student at the New Mexico State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biological sciences. She is from El Paso, Texas and has a strong passion for wildlife and nature conservation. For this reason, she has dedicated her time to learn and to volunteer with local programs and organizations such as the El Paso Zoo, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Environmental Science Student Organization, and at the NMSU herbarium. She also, has had the opportunity to work for conservation projects such as the translocation of Western Burrowing Owls in Phoenix, Arizona and with Mexican Spotted Owls in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Kimberly is very enthusiastic, charismatic and adventurous. In her free time, Kimberly enjoys hiking, doing photography and traveling.

Topic: Birds Diversity in Modified Riparian Areas at El Paso, Texas

Authors: Nuria Andreu1, John Sproul2, and Kevin Floyd3  1Environmental Science 2Center for Environmental Research Management 3Biological Sciences University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968

Poster Abstract: Riparian habitat has been lost to development in much of the southwestern United States.  These habitats are important for many local and migratory bird populations. Existing habitats along canals and the Rio Grande might substitute for the former riparian areas.  Vegetation management, flow rate, and whether or not the canal is concrete lined all can impact the quality of the habitat for birds.   For this study, we surveyed for birds at three waterways with varying habitat conditions: Rio Bosque Wetland Park, the Rio Grande, and Ascarate Park. Rio Bosque has both lined and unlined stretches, with shrubby vegetation growing on the sides of the unlined portion. The Rio Grande is unlined, with shrubs on the shores. The canal at Ascarate Park lined, with little vegetation. Bird surveys were conducted in June and July 2019. We walked 500-m paths at the Rio Grande and Ascarate, and drove a 5600-m path along the Riverside Canal at Rio Bosque.  We recorded abundance for all the bird species seen within the canal and those flying over.  We observed 19 species at Rio Bosque, 21 at Rio Grande, and 14 at Ascarate Park. Although common species like great-tailed grackles and house finches were seen at all sites, Rio Bosque had seven unique species and the Rio Grande had nine. The increased diversity of birds at the two locations with vegetation and no concrete lining indicates how changing management strategies to increase plant diversity can help replace some of the lost riparian habitat.

Nuria Andreu is a recent UTEP graduate student who wants to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability. As an undergrad, she was employed at UTEP as a Peer Leader for University courses and volunteered with many biology laboratories. She was also an intern for Texas Parks and Wildlife during summer 2018 and an intern this summer for La Frontera Land Alliance focused in outreach. Her summer internship also allowed her to do research with UTEP by conducting bird surveys in El Paso area. Her future goals include working for a non-profit organization in sustainability programs or at an environmental consulting agency.

Topic: A Survey of the El Paso Region for Wolbachia Infection within the Order Apoidea including Apis mellifera and Xylocopa sp.

Authors: Joshua Segoviano1, Douglas Watts2, Maria Alvarez1, Guadalupe Pena-Contreras1, Zulima Uresti1, Kevin Floyd2 1El Paso Community College, 2University of Texas at El Paso

Poster Abstract: Recent studies of the spread of disease and other microbiota have increased due to the recent collapse of Apis mellifera hives. Wolbachia is a genus of bacteria found in a wide variety of invertebrate host with effects varying from parasitic to beneficial if not crucial for the wellbeing of the organism. The particular impacts of Wolbachia on the order Apoidea is relatively understudied. The goal of this study was to determine the distribution of Wolbachia among Apoidea in the El Paso region, and if sociality has an effect on Wolbachia prevalence. We hypothesized that social bee species are more likely to host Wolbachia due to the close proximity of individuals in a hive and/or all the individuals in the hive descended from a single queen. This survey examined A. mellifera, the European honey bee, as the representative for highly social bees and Xylocopa sp., carpenter bees, to represent solitary bees. We predicted that A. mellifera would have higher prevalence of Wolbachia infection than the solitary Xylocopa. Five specimens of A. mellifera and three of Xylocopa were collected from five sites around El Paso, TX. Samples were screened for Wolbachia using PCR, with all samples negative. The absence of Wolbachia may have been caused by a variety of factors. One is if the hot, dry climate of El Paso reduces Wolbachia spread. Another is whether A. mellifera husbandry methods affect transmission. Further investigations will explore potential differences between managed and feral A. mellifera populations.

Joshua Segoviano is a biology student attending El Paso Community College and is a member of the RISE Program under Dr. Maria Alvarez.  He is currently working at the University of Texas at El Paso with Dr. Kevin Floyd studying pollinator ecology with a focus on bees.

Topic: A large ant collection in the Chihuahuan Desert: insights from digitizing the entomology collections of UTEP

Authors: Muriel M. Norman, Vicky Zhuang PhD., University of Texas at El Paso Biodiversity Collections

Poster Abstract: The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Entomology collection currently holds more than 200,000 ant specimens from approximately 28,000 collecting events, thanks to curator Dr. William P. Mackay. Collection dates span from 1921 to the present, with the majority of the collections coming from the 1960s-1980. The collections have excellent geographic coverage in the New World, especially the Chihuahuan Desert and are particularly strong in the United States, Mexico and Columbia. Great efforts are being made in digitizing and georeferencing the collections to facilitate access for both researchers and the public. So far, over 10,000 records have been made public through the Arctos database. We report the details of holdings and potential applications of resources in the collections, which include understanding historical distributions of ants in the Chihuahuan Desert region, where to focus new collecting and conservation efforts, as well as providing accessible tools for educators.

Muriel M. Norman is an undergraduate student currently attending The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), hoping to attain a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences within the next year. She has been the head curatorial assistant in the Biodiversity Collections at UTEP since 2018. Muriel is tasked with duties such as digitizing specimens through the Arctos database, organizing the collections, protecting many of the specimens from pest damage or harm and doing outreach projects to inform the public about the resources we provide in the collections. She has processed over 3,500 specimens throughout the collections. Currently, she is processing a large donation of ants as the main focus in digitizing the insect collections. She hopes to continue her education after receiving her bachelor’s degree and is considering careers in both the medical field and research.

Topic: Identifying the Native Bee Community Present in a Restored Wetland in the Southwestern United States

Authors: Laura Valdez, Bryanna Neria, and Kevin Floyd, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso

Poster Abstract: The modification of rivers in the southwestern United States has resulted in loss of riparian ecosystems, including seasonal wetlands. Rio Bosque Wetlands Park in El Paso, TX, is a 372-acre restored wetland ecosystem constructed in 1997. Native bees could be a critical part of the restoration process in part because they can increase seed production via their role as pollinators. To understand the role that bees have in the restoration process we must first identify the native bee community present at Rio Bosque. The aim of this study was to begin the systematic sampling and identification of bees, focusing on the riparian parts of the park. We sampled at three 150-m sites along the old channel of the Rio Grande in June 2019, using 24-hr pan trapping and sweep netting of Lepidium draba and Wislizenia refracta, the main species flowering at that time. Bee specimens were keyed to genus. We identified 525 specimens to 18 genera, 511 from pan traps and 14 from the sweep netting. Eighty percent of the individuals were Lasioglossum or Exomalopsis.  These data can serve as a baseline for subsequent surveys, allowing for investigation of how maturation of the restored vegetation and changing hydrologic regime impact the bee community. Future work should include sampling other plant communities at Rio Bosque, such as the wetlands, as they contain different flowering plants that likely support additional bee species.  That would create a more complete understanding of the native bee community at the park.

Laura C. Valdez is currently enrolled at UTEP pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. She has recently graduated from Valle Verde Early College High School from which she was able to obtain an Associates of Arts in May 2019. In summer of 2019, she had the opportunity of working with an internship program at UTEP called STEMGrow that allowed her to gain experience working in a lab as well as conducting research and becoming part of the Bee Biodiversity Research Group. Her goal is to continue to expand her research as well as teaching the importance of native bees.

Topic: Two New White Species of Moths from White Sands National Monument

Authors: Eric H. Metzler,,Michigan State University; Carolin L. Scott-Tracey, Mescalero Apache School; Savannah B. Porter, New Mexico State University-Alamogordo

Poster Abstract: The study of moths at White Sands National Monument is now in its 12th year. The discovery of species new to science continued at the rate of approximately six new species per year through 2017 when the field work ended. C. Scott Bundy PhD at New Mexico State University Las Cruces created a special studies course for Carolin L. Scott-Tracey for Spring semester 2017. Jennifer Roberts Smith PhD at New Mexico State University-Alamogordo created a special studies course for Savannah B. Porter for Spring semester 2018. Eric H. Metzler taught both courses on behalf of New Mexico State University. Scott-Tracey’s research resulted in the publication of a new species of moth, Sympistis sierrablanca Metzler and Scott-Tracey, 2019, and Porter’s research resulted in publication of a new species of moth Eucosma gypsumana Metzler and Porter, 2018.

Eric Metzler graduated from Michigan State University in 1968. His first date with his wife-to-be, Pat, was black lighting for moths. At his retirement from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s Governor appointed Eric as Ambassador of Natural Resources. In 2005, Eric was inducted in the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame. Eric holds an Adjunct appointment, the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. He is a research collaborator of the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, a research associate at the Museum of Southwestern Biology at UNM in Albuquerque, the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity at the University of Florida, The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. He is conducting long term studies of moths at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument. He received the National Park Service’s Intermountain 2014 Regional Director’s Award for Natural Resource Research.

Topic: Development of environmentally friendly methods to control harmful blooms of golden alga

Authors: Mousumi A. Mary1, Rakib H. Rashel1, and Reynaldo Patiño2  1 Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409; 2 U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Departments of Natural Resources Management and Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409

Poster Abstract: Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) is a euryhaline haptophyte that produces compounds highly toxic to fishes and other gill-breathing aquatic organisms. In North America, harmful blooms of this species were first reported in 1985 in the Pecos River. Since that time, golden alga blooms have expanded their range within the Rio Grande Basin−including the City of El Paso−and elsewhere in Texas and the Nation. Tens of millions of fishes have been lost due to these blooms in Texas alone. Effective methods to control golden alga in the field are presently unavailable. Recent studies by our laboratory, however, have shown that preparations made from giant reed (Arundo donax), itself a harmful invasive plant in the USA, strongly inhibit golden alga growth. The objective of this study is to screen known constituents of giant reed for their ability to influence golden alga growth in batch cultures. Five natural compounds and one synthetic derivative were tested. All but one of the compounds inhibited growth of golden alga. The most potent of the natural compounds was ellipticine, which exhibited growth-inhibitory and algicidal activities at concentrations much lower than dichlorogramine, a synthetic derivative of gramine specifically designed to enhance potency. Oleamide was the only test chemical that did not have allelopathic activity; on the contrary, this compound stimulated growth. These observations confirm the existence of anti-golden alga allelochemicals in giant reed and suggest there is potential for using this invasive plant as source of natural, environmentally friendly products for bloom control.

Mousumi Akter Mary is a PhD student and a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences at Texas Tech University. She is currently working on golden alga (Prymnesium parvum), a harmful bloom forming species, and her research focuses on control methods. Before pursuing her pH degree in the USA, she completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Topic: Diet Analysis of Native and Non-native Leopard Frog Species in Southern New Mexico

Authors: Mariangel Varela, Leanne Taber, Lauren A. Samaniego, and Wiebke J. Boeing, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology. New Mexico State University

Poster Abstract: A decrease in the amphibian population has been reported since the 1990’s and continues to be observed across the nation with causes varying from environmental changes to direct human involvement. American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is invasive to the western US and is believed to be causing displacements of native anurans like Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi) and federally endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis). Here, we looked at diet composition for those three anurans on the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico to study competitive diet overlap. We caught frogs from 13 ponds on the Ladder Ranch in Southern New Mexico and collected diet samples via gastric lavage on the native frogs. Stomach content was stored in ethanol. Bullfrogs were permanently removed and the entire stomach was stored in ethanol for microscopical analyses of contents in the laboratory. We found that the diet contents of the native, smaller anurans tended to consist of smaller insects. Bullfrogs had insects as well as larger items (crayfish, fish, frogs) in their stomachs. Overlap in diet preference was observed between the natives and invasive frogs. These results support the possibility of predation as well as competition between the native leopard frogs and invasive bullfrog.

Mariangel Varela is an Animal Science major at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She graduated from Coronado high school in El Paso, Texas and currently works in the lab of Wiebke Boeing, PhD, in the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology at NMSU. Mariangel was accepted into the competitive MARC (Maximizing Access for Research Careers) at NMSU, where she is trained in scientific research as well as communication, networking, and ethic topics. From early on Mariangel has shown passion for animals and their natural communities. She is hard working and passionate about sharing her knowledge.

Topic: Learning from the Chihuahuan Desert in Beginning Architecture Design School.

Author: Josue J. Munoz-Miramon, Architecture Faculty at El Paso Community College

Poster Abstract: The American architect, Frank Llloyd Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called “organic architecture”. Wright is quoted: “study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

As we begin our journey through architectural education, what is the best way to be aware of such philosophies and incorporate into architectural design? How do you teach the multiple design concepts necessary to conceive architecture native and responsible to its surroundings? How do we inspire our students to seek for answers to architectural design problems within our own ecological and climatic context?  As an instructor at El Paso Community College teaching first and second year architectural design curriculum, this is the challenge set forth in the classroom.  As a response, the ideas of: “seeing vs. looking” and hands-on experimentation, became clear in absorbing such content. Architecture students learn a diverse range of design concepts from flora native to the Chihuahuan desert: aesthetics, symmetry, ratios, sustainability, survival, and structure.  The architecture classroom was extended into visits to the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at the University of Texas at El Paso, the Franklin Mountains, and White Sands National Monument. Students apply skills, which as creative individuals are already familiar with: photography, sketching, diagramming, watercolors, and model making.  The conclusion at the moment is a tremendous admiration and respect from the students into their local surroundings, and an increased level of creativity and problem solving skills into their own architectural design endeavors.

Josue Munoz-Miramon is a full-time lecturer at El Paso Community College, teaching first and second year architecture students, responsible for providing instruction in accordance with the philosophy and objectives of the College. Courses thought include: Architectural Design Studio I, II, & III, Digital Media, Architectural History I & II, Introduction to Architecture, Architectural Freehand Drawing and Graphics in Architecture. Mr. Munoz also serves as vice-chair of the City Of El Paso Public Arts Committee, under the Museums and Cultural Affairs department of the City of El Paso. He is a native borderland’er growing up between Mexico and the United States, an architectural professional candidate, and a designer of many traits, a yoga practitioner, and a bicycle enthusiast. Magna cum-laude graduate from Texas Tech University School of Architecture in El Paso earning a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, and a Masters of Architecture from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California where he specialized in digital design, prototyping, and fabrication

Topic: No Wifi, No Worries: Data Management on the Rio Grande

Author: Marie Landis

Poster Abstract: In March 2019, six scientists, three firefighters, and four zookeepers launched canoes loaded with handsaws, Garlon sprayers, and GPS equipment at the mouth of Boquillas Canyon on the Rio Grande. To improve wildlife habitat and migration corridors, and promote native vegetation, the crew intended to do as much as they could in 4 days to cut, spray, and kill the invasive athel tamarisk trees that crowded in clumps of 100 or more along the riverbanks. At the end of the excursion, the team would need to quantify the work that had been done and, eventually, monitor the work to ensure their methods were effective. But how to track this work while traveling by canoe in the backcountry with limited battery power, no internet, and a variable climate? How to ensure notes would be consistent when few of the team members had done work like this in the past, and many had never worked together?   Even in the remote, rugged, and digitally disconnected canyons of the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, mobile technology and cloud platforms can help streamline data collection and ease the post-processing that will be required back at the office. This team used the Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 apps to successfully collect and consolidate hundreds of points of treatment data. We learned some lessons along the way about efficient mobile data collection in the backcountry.

Marie Landis is a cartographer at Big Bend National Park and Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. For the last 4 years, Marie has supported the mapping needs of the park’s scientists, interpreters, rangers, and other staff. She enjoys the challenges of working in a remote environment and strives to lead the GIS program with an eye for flexible technology and user-friendly workflows that provide consistency in an environment with seasonal staffing fluctuations.  Working in a national park in America’s greenest desert affords some unique opportunities for a GIS specialist. Some adventures from Marie’s last year in the “office” include: developing a floating data management strategy for treating exotic riparian vegetation; mapping the perimeter of the Castolon Fire using an unmanned aerial system; collaborating with NPS Inventory and Monitoring staff to develop a landscape-scale model for detecting exotic grass using remote sensing; providing GIS support for wildland fire in the southwest with an interagency incident management team; and taking every opportunity to play with Esri’s Dashboard Operations tool to assist park staff in reporting on all that is spatial in nature.