Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Scott E. Hygnstrom. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2011

Copyright 2011 Scott Ryan Groepper


Highly-pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV H5N1) poses risks to wild birds, poultry, and humans. Personnel with the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services, state, and tribal wildlife agencies collected 168,940 samples from migratory birds from 2007 to 2009 to test for presence of HPAIV H5N1. No HPAIV was found, but other subtypes were discovered, including H5 and H7. I estimated prevalence of avian influenza virus by flyway and found prevalence was lowest each year in the Atlantic Flyway (6.7%–8.3%), highest in the Pacific Flyway in 2007 (13.3%) and 2008 (13.4%), and highest in the Mississippi Flyway in 2009 (15.9%). I plotted prevalence monthly and found August–November was optimal time for sampling due to highest prevalence in all flyways. Dabbling ducks had significantly higher prevalence of AIV ( = 14.1%, range = 9.3%–19.4%) than other functional groups across all flyways and study years. My results suggest future surveillance should focus on species from the dabbling duck functional group.

Restoration efforts in Nebraska have contributed to increased populations of resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis) that now are considered a nuisance. In 2004, an early September hunting season was initiated to reduce populations. I analyzed band returns from geese banded in Nebraska to determine if early September hunting seasons affected survival, harvest, and recovery rates. The top model in my survival analysis revealed early September hunting seasons did not reduce survival (S = 0.696) of geese. In addition, models indicated survival was not different between geese inside and outside the early hunting zone (southeast vs. northeast, S = 0.711) and survival did not differ by sex (S = 0.708). Survival differed between the metropolitan areas of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska (S = 0.742 and 0.678, respectively). A combination of urbanization and non-migratory behavior may be leading to higher survival of Canada geese in Nebraska.

Adviser: Scott E. Hygnstrom