Faunal Survey of Lake Wappapello

From 2002 - 2005, we executed a contract with the US Army Corps of Enginners to survey all vertebrate fauna around Lake Wappapello, a flood control reservoir on the St. Francois River in southeastern Missouri. Several projects emerged from this work, which required many field trips and uncountable hours of working on site. This project tested all personnel involved by demanding work under all kinds of weather conditions for extended periods of time.

The first year of the project saw some of the most severely flooded conditions in the history of the lake. This sign (ironically warning of a "flooded area ahead") is on a dirt road almost two miles from the lake.

Beth Bunchman completed her Master's thesis on this project by assessing mammal activity in areas differentially affected by human presence thoughout the study region. Here Beth, Vicki Hedrick and Beth Hefner smooth a sand pad; sand is mixed with mineral oil to create a smooth, compressable surface, in the center of which is placed a scented bait disk. The tracks of mammals inspecting the disk or passing over the pad are recorded the following morning.

Raul Ramirez evaluated aspects of stream food web ecology for his Master's thesis; here he is shown assembling some of the many nylon mesh enclosures he placed in streams and stocked with experimental fish populations.

In a nod to working under any and all weather conditions, Beth Bunchman and I are shown here installing a turtle sampling trap in the swamp area below the dam. Freezing rain and snow made this a less-than-somewhat pleasant experience.

Several students were involved in various aspects of this project, including Jackie Negro (currently a graduate student at University of Illinois-Springfield) shown here while radio-tracking endangered bats. Jackie also prepared most of mammal study specimens provided to the Corps from this project.

Perhaps the most interesting work was sampling bats as part of this project. For this effort, we were lucky to enlist the assistance of Dr. Tim Carter, then of SIU-Carbondale and currently an assistant professor at Ball State University. Tim's expertise and his patience at training all of us to help him with the sampling made this a particularly unique experience.

... and some days just simply turned out to be longer than others!

And what do you do when your students remember to bring hot dogs but forget to bring the buns? Just eat the dogs out of metal cups!

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