Note To Our Readers

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2015

Research Enhances Management of Missouri’s Fish, Forest, and Wildlife

To learn and grow in knowledge should be a goal for each of us throughout our lives. Your Department of Conservation is constantly seeking new knowledge in fish, forest, and wildlife management.

The Department’s research staff is exploring new innovations in technical research that will build upon our current scientific foundation to manage Missouri’s natural resources into the future.

Technical research and learning new scientific information is a cornerstone of any successful conservation program. Our world is changing! Invasive plant and animal species, changing land-use patterns, and a growing population are just a few variables that impact our native natural resources. When you combine fish, forest, and wildlife management; protection; and public input with research, you have the highly successful Missouri Model of conservation.

Current research includes evaluating survival, reproduction, habitat use, and movement patterns of whitetail deer and wild turkey. Biologists are capturing and placing tracking devices on deer in northwest Missouri and in the Ozarks. Wild turkeys are being studied and monitored in northeast Missouri. The research information will build a broader database and enable managers to refine science-based decisions on deer and turkey hunting seasons and harvest limits.

A five-year quail research project is underway in southwest Missouri to test the difference between managing grassland landscapes through managed burning and grazing instead of the more traditional approach of annual food plots in producing quail. Department staff are trapping male and female quail on several conservation areas and fitting them with radio collars. Quail are then tracked throughout the year and the data gathered will help determine many aspects of quail life history including survival, breeding status, habitat use, and distance moved.

The article on collared lizards in this issue is an excellent example of how a species has benefitted from research and associated management activities. Science builds upon itself — the more we learn, the more we want to know!

Biologists have learned how to raise hellbenders in captivity, which will help restoration efforts in our Ozark streams, but we need to better understand the factors that are causing hellbenders to decline. As a conservation department, we need to know more about bats and better understand monarch butterflies and specific factors causing their decline. Continuing to build scientific knowledge on prairie ecosystems, forest ecosystems, paddlefish, and sturgeon are just a few ongoing research projects.

Most of Missouri’s streams have been altered and degraded. Many of our state’s wetlands have been converted to other land uses. How do scientists ensure that Missouri’s wetlands maximize benefits for all wetland species and maintain the correct stream flow to maximize benefits for all stream species? These tough and complex research issues represent important projects Department scientists are currently working on for a healthier future for Missouri citizens and the state’s natural resources.

A quality conservation program must have an engaged citizenry. Missourians live in an ever-changing society with new and multiple demands on our time. Together we must stay engaged, share ideas, and look for opportunities to improve conservation in Missouri. Last year research scientists conducted surveys that reached almost 200,000 citizens asking them what they thought about a variety of outdoor issues. Your opinion and thoughts are vitally important to Missouri conservation and the Department of Conservation wants to hear from you!

Department research scientists have a long history of exploring natural resource questions, innovating research and management solutions, and leading the nation in scientific discoveries. The Department’s research staff utilize adaptive learning, creative thinking, embrace technology, and are national leaders in fish, forest, and wildlife research. Building on this world-class research with field management, protection, and citizen engagement will improve Missouri’s natural resources, Missouri citizen’s quality of life, and continue to make Missouri a great place to live.

Tim Ripperger, deputy director

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler