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ResearchLead
GoalsActivities
  
  
Adam Taylor (UT-FWF), Chad Hellwinckel (UT-AgEcon), Scott Myers (USDA APHIS)
 The fumigation of logs for export from the US represents one of the largest Quarantine and Pre-Shipment use exemptions for methyl bromide (MB). Log fumigations require high doses of MB to kill pinewood nematodes and the oak wilt fungus, the two most important pests for log exports. The phase-out of MB has made the fumigant more expensive and makes its availability in the future uncertain. In addition, federal and state air quality regulations restrict MB use and thus have reduced the volume of log exports from the US.In the future, if quarantine and pre-shipment use exemptions for MB for log exports expire or are restricted our log exporters will be left with few options to effectively treat logs for export. Commercially viable alternatives to MB are desperately needed for US log exports to protect a market worth over$2.3 billion annually.Two alternative fumigant products, sulfuryl fluoride (SF) and phosphine (PH3), offer the best available options to provide effective quarantine level control of wood pests with minimal disruption to current industry practices, infrastructure, product quality and economics.This integrated project will combine research on alternative fumigants and engagement with commercial fumigators to perform scaled-up trials, conduct economic analyses and facilitate the use of fumigant alternatives for important wood export commodities.
Wood Science
  
J. Brian Alford (PI), Debra L. Miller (Co-PI), and Meredith Hayes (Investigator), Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (Collaborator)
At Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI) Smoky Madtoms (Noturus baileyi) and Yellowfin Madtoms (N. flavipinnus) are being propagated to restore populations of these endangered species to the wild. However, other rare Noturus species tend to have poor nest/larval survival due, hypothetically, due to guardian males and their protective antimicrobial mucus being absent in the hatchery once nests are brought in from the wild. We are using the common Mountain Madtom (N. eleutherus) as a model by spawning wild-caught adults and experimentally removing guardian males from nests. Our objectives are to (1) quantify egg infection rates by a fungal pathogen & and survivorship of nests with guardian male present versus nests with guardian male absent and (2) demonstrate inhibitory effects of epidermal mucus through microbial assays.
Fisheries
  
J. Brian Alford
This project will survey aquatic invertebrate assemblages and their habitats in 4 streams located in the South Central Plains Level III ecoregion of Louisiana, and draining the Ouachita River basin. At least 29 species of special concern in Louisiana will be sampled for invertebrates, including rare crayfish, mussels, and insects, as well as their instream habitat and riparian habitat. Data from these collections will be used to develop a reference condition (i.e., baseline set of community attributes) that can then be used to generate and validate an index of biotic integrity (IBI) for this ecoregion. Most states have developed region-specific IBIs to assess environmental quality of aquatic ecosystems. However, this work has not been done in Louisiana. One of the first and most important steps towards developing an IBI using natural aquatic community data is to define the reference condition. This study will enable the State of Louisiana to begin this process of biologically-based water quality assessment, one that is much more easily implemented and cost-effective than using traditional numeric concentrations (e.g., TMDLs).
Fisheries
  
Amanda Kaeser, Nidia Panti, Rafael Manzanero, Friends for Conservation and Development Belize, Program for Tropical Ecology and Conservation
In this project, surveys and social psychology models are used to predict women’s participation in natural resources management in The Vaca Forest Reserve.  The results are being applied to develop and implement a new conservation program through a women’s group.  The research has produced 1 PhD dissertation, 1 peer-reviewed manuscript in press, and 3 other manuscripts either in review or development.
Wildlife
  
Marcy Souza, Rick Gerhold, Chika Okafor, Robert Omara, Charles Masembe, Bree Dell, Kathrine McCarty
This project measures perceived and actual risk of zoonotic disease crossovers from wildlife to people in communities adjacent Murchison Falls Naitonal Park.  Reserach collaborators have completed 180 hunter surveys and collected 90 bushmeat samples for DNA and RNA sequencing.
Wildlife
  
John Zobel (PI) and John Coulston (Collaborator)
The USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program is tasked with providing annual carbon stock estimates (and changes) for the nation’s forests.  These estimates rely on the extensive national inventory database from FIA, but the Western States currently lack complete remeasurement data.  This research explored several imputation techniques for populating the missing data, with a mixed-effects modeling framework providing the most promising results.  Model validation and dissemination of results are in their final stages.
Forestry
  
Patrick Keyser, David Buehler, Emma Willcox, D. Simon (NCWRC)
This project is evaluating changes in breeding bird nesting ecology (survival, productivity, habitat selection) as a result of oak woodland and savannah restoration. Focal species for the nesting component are prairie warbler, red-headed woodpecker, field sparrow, and red-eyed vireo. The project also has a long-term (7 years) data set that is being analyzed to identify changes in breeding bird density for a large number of species based on the same canopy reduction and fire treatments. Chrissy Henderson is an MS student and is conducting the research.
Wildlife
  
Patrick Keyser, Charles Kwit, M. Stambaugh (University of Missouri)
This is the companion study to the breeding bird component and evaluates changes in vegetation communities including overstory, midstory, and groundlayer components resulting from three canopy reduction treatments (uncut control, high and low residual) and three fire treatments (spring, fall, unburned control). We are also evaluating changes in fuel loading, both amount and type. Andy Vander Yacht is a PhD student and is conducting this work. Partners include NWTF, USFS-LBL, USFS-DBNF, NCWRC, TWRA, U. Missouri, BLM, and UT.
Wildlife
  
Adam Willcox, Teresa Payne, Kyle Rodgers, Katherine Medlock, Rob Bullard
This research facilitates a process to collaboratively develop a plan to balance endangered species conservation with economic development.
Wildlife
  
Emma V. Willcox and Riley Bernard
Developing an Indiana bat Species Action Plan that will aid managers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) in protecting Indiana bats, while still completing necessary management, maintenance, and recreational activities in Indiana bat habitat.  Specifically,  the project will involve 1) compiling, synthesizing, reviewing, and summarizing all existing information on the status of Indiana bats and their habitat; 2) describing GRSM management activities (e.g.,the prescribed fire, trail and road maintenance, etc.) that negatively affect and benefit Indiana bats; 3) identify actions that are and are not allowed in Indiana bat habitat and/or mitigation measures needed to support species conservation; and, 4) suggest future research needs.
Wildlife
  
Tom Gill (PI), Shigetoshi Eda (Mentor)
Eda’s lab hosted a scientist from Kazakhstan for 3 months. The scientist conducted research projects on Johne’s disease diagnosis. Eda visited universities and a national diagnostic lab in Kazakhstan.
Wildlife
  
Richard Strange, Theodore Henry
This research project measures the effects of manufactured nanoparticles (NPs) on the microbiome in the environmentally relevant, commercially significant, and scientifically important rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The following hypotheses are being tested: 1) dietary NPs influence endogenous microbiota and digestive system physiology in fish leading to negative effects on overall fish health, and 2) NP-induced changes in endogenous microbiota enhance fish susceptibility to infection and incidence of enteric redmouth disease in rainbow trout after exposure to the bacterial pathogen Yersinia ruckeri. The effects of dietary exposure to NPs (metal NPs and carbon NPs) with appropriate bulk controls on the intestinal microbial communities are being determined by global genomic sequencing of the microbial communities and quantitative PCR to target specific microbial species of interest. Changes in abundance of specific microbes of interest are being evaluated among treatments and over time. In the same fish, gene expression profiling are being conducted to identify biomarker genes that respond to alterations in the microbial community composition. A subset of NP treatments will be selected to conduct longer-term exposure (eight weeks) in fish that will subsequently be exposed to Y. ruckeri, and the outcome of this bacterial challenge will be evaluated.
Fisheries
  
Emma V. Willcox, Riley F. Bernard, Gary F. McCracken
Investigating whether torpor, winter cave emergence, and foraging behavior contribute to differences in the susceptibility of 4 target bat species: gray bat (Myotis grisescens), Indiana bat (Myotis Sodalis), eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) and tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) to Pd.
Wildlife
  
Emma V. Willcox and David A. Buehler
Using a newly developed aerial acoustic bat detection technology to improve detection and monitoring of multiple bat species, many of which have declining populations on DoD installations.
Wildlife
  
Neelam C. Poudyal (UTK-FWF); Buddhi Gywali, Maifan Silitonga, Marion Simon, Louie Rivers (Kentucky State University)
Landscape change due to excessive mining can change the provision of forest and other ecosystem, which may eventually threaten the quality of life in nearby communities. One of the regions experiencing significant landscape change due to mountain top removal for mining is the Appalachian Mountain region of east Kentucky. In collaboration with the PIs from Kentucky State University, this projects intends to study whether and how landscape changes due to surface mining relate to residents’ perception of change in social, economic, and ecological indicators of human quality of life. A paper-based survey has been designed and recently implemented in seven surface-mining counties located in eastern Kentucky.
Forestry
  
Neelam C. Poudyal (UTK-FWF), Burton English, Kim Jensen (UTK-ARE)
Landscape change due to excessive mining can change the provision of forest and other ecosystem, which may eventually threaten the quality of life in nearby communities. One of the regions experiencing significant landscape change due to mountain top removal for mining is the Appalachian Mountain region of east Kentucky. In collaboration with the PIs from Kentucky State University, this projects intends to study whether and how landscape changes due to surface mining relate to residents’ perception of change in social, economic, and ecological indicators of human quality of life. A paper-based survey has been designed and recently implemented in seven surface-mining counties located in eastern Kentucky.
Forestry
  
Emma V. Willcox
Understanding the foraging and roosting needs of the imperiled tri-colored bat to allow Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to effectively manage their habitat on agency lands and implement appropriate policy and regulations to govern their conservation.
Wildlife
  
Lisa Muller, Associte Professor
Joe Clark, National Park Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Elk Island National Park (EINP), Alberta, Canada has been managing over-abundant elk populations by translocating animals to sites including the Cumberland Mountains, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina. The initial reintroductions occurred in 2000 and we are analyzing current genetic diversity of the populations.  There may be segregation of elk in Tennessee and North Carolina related to the social structure and separation of groups that originally occurred at EINP.
Wildlife
  
PIs: Matthew Gray and Debra MillerCollaborators: Tom Remaley and Paul Super (NPS)
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) encompasses 210,877 ha, and is a global hotspot for vertebrate biodiversity in the Western Hemisphere. Wetlands within Cades Cove of the GSMNP have experienced reoccurring disease outbreaks from the emerging pathogen, ranavirus.  Our objectives are to: 1) identify the factors responsible for ranavirus emergence, 2) quantify the effects of ranavirus outbreaks on the amphibian community, and 3) quantify the translocation risk of ranavirus from Cades Cove to other GSMNP sites. We are accomplishing these objectives through a combination of mark-recapture sampling, pathogen surveillance, and estimating public visitation at sampling sites.  
Wildlife
  
Patrick Keyser, D. Hancock (University of GA), L. Marks (Auburn University)
Native grasses are a valuable forage but establishment can be difficult and, as a result, some producers are reluctant to incorporate these grasses into their pastures.  This project is taking two practices for establishment, traditional spring planting and dormant-season planting, and implementing them on a series of nine demonstration farms in TN, AL, and GA.  In addition, a third approach to establishment, using a warm-season annual (browntop millet) nurse crop, is being evaluated in a pair of experiments (switchgrass and big bluestem).  The goal is to provide a forage crop during the establishment year without compromising stand establishment.  Johnny Richwine, a PhD student, is conducting the experiments.
Wildlife
  
Neelam C. Poudyal (UTK-FWF), J. M. Bowker (USDA Forest Service), D. B. K. English (USDA Forest Service), Ashley Askew (University of Georgia), Binod Chapagain (UTK-FWF)
As many outdoor recreation activities rely on natural resources such as forests, streams, and snow, climate can have direct and indirect impacts on the outdoor industry. The objective is to develop and test models with selected outdoor activities so that the approach could eventually be replicated to other specific activities. Findings from this study will provide useful insights in the feasibility of using destination-specific data as opposed to origin-specific data in linking recreation participation and climate change. Using recreation survey data from USDA Forest Service’s National Visitor Use Monitoring, a number of trip demand models have been developed to assess the economic value of downhill skiing, and evaluate whether and how climatic conditions on site (e.g. temperature, snow depth, precipitation) impact trip demand.
Forestry
  
Susan Schexnayder and Mark Fly (UT-FWF)
The USDA Forest Service monitors recreational intensity and preference across all its forests using a nationwide program of visitor monitoring and surveying. The Human Dimensions Lab will conduct 350 days of intercept surveying across these two National Forests in 2016-17, collecting data on usage, satisfaction, and economic impacts.
Forestry
  
Tim Young
Project objectives: 1) “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and 2) “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The methods include an analytical capability that accounts for: 1) The economic dimension of vulnerability; 2) The social dimension of vulnerability; and 3) The environmental dimension of vulnerability.  This new methodology will provide a new risk assessment tool for the biomass supply chain.  This will assist  practitioners by improving  their analytical capabilities when examining “risk” and natural hazards in the feedstock supply chain.  This will allow for more meaningful economic spatial analyses in the context of risk.    Most of the project work to-date has focused on Objective 1: “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and Objective 2: “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is being updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The new methods aim at providing new risk assessment tools for the biomass supply chain  practitioners to refine their analytical capabilities when examining natural hazards, and allowing users to create more specific and meaningful local economic analyses in the context of BioSAT (www.biosat.net).Project objectives: 1) “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and 2) “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The methods include an analytical capability that accounts for: 1) The economic dimension of vulnerability; 2) The social dimension of vulnerability; and 3) The environmental dimension of vulnerability.  This new methodology will provide a new risk assessment tool for the biomass supply chain.  This will assist  practitioners by improving  their analytical capabilities when examining “risk” and natural hazards in the feedstock supply chain.  This will allow for more meaningful economic spatial analyses in the context of risk.    Most of the project work to-date has focused on Objective 1: “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and Objective 2: “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is being updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The new methods aim at providing new risk assessment tools for the biomass supply chain  practitioners to refine their analytical capabilities when examining natural hazards, and allowing users to create more specific and meaningful local economic analyses in the context of BioSAT (www.biosat.net).Project objectives: 1) “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and 2) “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The methods include an analytical capability that accounts for: 1) The economic dimension of vulnerability; 2) The social dimension of vulnerability; and 3) The environmental dimension of vulnerability.  This new methodology will provide a new risk assessment tool for the biomass supply chain.  This will assist  practitioners by improving  their analytical capabilities when examining “risk” and natural hazards in the feedstock supply chain.  This will allow for more meaningful economic spatial analyses in the context of risk.    Most of the project work to-date has focused on Objective 1: “Characterize and update data sources for mapping and analysis of a Natural Disaster Vulnerability Index (NDVI) in the context of BioSAT”; and Objective 2: “Develop analytical capabilities accessible through BioSAT’s web-based framework.”  The ARCGIS database is being updated (ArcGIS 10.2.2) with the most current data on natural disasters, e.g., damaging winds, drought, fire, etc.  The new methods aim at providing new risk assessment tools for the biomass supply chain  practitioners to refine their analytical capabilities when examining natural hazards, and allowing users to create more specific and meaningful local economic analyses in the context of BioSAT (www.biosat.net).
Wood Science
  
Deb Miller (PI), Matt Gray (Co-PI), Bill Sutton (Collaborator from Tennessee State University), Becky Hardman (PhD Graduate Student)
The Ozark Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) was listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in October of 2011 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Previous research suggests that pathogens may be negatively impacting populations by contributing to severe debilitating and progressive skin (digits and feet) lesions and mortality.  To date, the pathogens identified as having the most severe impact on amphibian populations worldwide are the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and viruses within the genus Ranavirus, both of which have been detected in Hellbenders and are known threats to other giant salamanders.  Beyond these primary pathogens, opportunistic bacteria are hypothesized to contribute to the digit and foot lesions once host immune systems are weakened by other stressors.  Amphibian skin health is known to be important in defense against pathogens; stressors that change the physiology of the host and ultimately ecosystem of the skin surface can lower host immune response and increase susceptibility to disease. Our study is focused on determining the prevalence of the pathogenic agents Bd and ranaviruses, identifying changes in the skin microbiome among Hellbenders with and without skin lesions, and ultimately identifying factors that contribute to these debilitating skin lesions. For this study, we use non-lethal techniques to collect samples for molecular analysis of cutaneous microbial, fungal, and viral communities.  To date we have collected samples from 87 Ozark Hellbenders and are currently working on analyses.
Wildlife
  
Shigetoshi Eda (PI)
Eda’s lab is preparing and providing antigens and absorbent to BioVet diagnostic company for their production and sales of commercial diagnostic kits for Johne’s disease. The amount is enough to produce 1000 kits, and this contract can be expanded to up to 10 times of the service.
Wildlife
  
PIs: Matthew Gray and Debra MillerCollaborators: Louise Rollins-Smith (Vanderbilt University), Doug Woodhams (UMass-Boston), Lori Williams (NCWRC), Bill Reeves (TWRA), and Tim Herman (Indoor Ecosystems)
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is a recently discovered fungal pathogen that is emerging in Europe. Substantial concern has been raised about the possibility of Bsal’s introduction in North America and the associated risk to native amphibians, especially salamanders where about 50% of species exist worldwide.  In particular, the southern Appalachian Mountains are a global biodiversity hotspot for salamander species.  The objectives of this study will be to estimate the susceptibility of several native amphibian species to Bsal infection and disease.  These data will be used to inform spatial risk models that estimate threat of Bsal emergence in the USA.
Wildlife
  
Shigetoshi Eda (PI) and Jayne Wu (co-PI)
This project aims to develop a low cost, simple to use, highly sensitive and selective point-of-care detection system for pen-side diagnosis of viral infectious diseases in animals, such as influenza A, pseudorabies, swine fever, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. We are developing an on-site diagnostic device for detection of pseudorabies virus infections in feral hogs by utilizing our proprietary ACEK-enhanced capacitive sensor technology.
Wildlife
  
Adam Taylor
Standard methods for treated wood preservative retention analysis pool a large number of small wood samples (cores) to provide an average retention value with no estimate of variability within the charge. Recently a statistical tool for estimating variability has been described, which uses multiple subsamples. If this method were to be adopted, either more cores in total would be required to provide the same volume of wood sample per analysis, or the analysis would need to use less sample volume. This research is developing the latter approach, using commercially-available, reduced-volume x-ray fluorescence (XRF) sample cups for the analysis of wood treated to varying levels of preservative retention.
Wood Science
  
J. Brian Alford
Since 2001, the UT Fisheries Research Lab has been monitoring and restoring native aquatic biota to the NC and TN portions of the Pigeon River following many decades of paper mill pollution. This work continues the goal of recovering the native aquatic fauna in the river to its natural state. We conduct snorkel monitoring for reintroduced fishes (e.g., Gilt Darter) and mussels (e.g., Purple Wartyback) and conduct electrofishing surveys on an annual basis to assess the recovery. Twice per year we translocate fishes from nearby watersheds (but part of the same drainage, French Broad River) to help those species recolonize the Pigeon.
Fisheries
  
Jennifer FranklinCo-PI – Chris Barton, University of Kentucky
Until recently, common mine reclamation practice consisted of heavily compacting soils and planting aggressive and primarily non-native grass and shrub species, and the result has been a series of unproductive, primarily non-native and persistent shrublands.  The goal of this project is to restore native shortleaf pine and hardwood forest on 45 acres of this former mined land in Tennessee and Kentucky.  Restored vegetative communities are designed to provide habitat for bobwhite quail and golden-winged warbler in the early years, and eventually, habitat for Indiana bat and Cerulean warbler. Methods of invasive species removal, soil treatments, and the establishment of native forest trees and understory species are being studied.
Forestry
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