Population modeling in conservation planning of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit

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Title: Population modeling in conservation planning of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit
Author: LaFever, David Howard
Abstract: Rapid development and urbanization of the Lower Florida Keys in the last 30 years has fragmented the habitat of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri ) and threatened it with extinction . Current threats exist at multiple spatiotemporal scales and include threats due to development , invasive species , and global climate change . On Boca Chica Key , the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (LKMR ) exists as a metapopulation on Naval Air Station -Key West (NASKW ) . I conducted a population viability analysis to determine the metapopulation's risk of extinction under multiple management scenarios by developing a spatially -explicit , stage -structured , stochastic matrix model using the programs RAMAS Metapop and ArcGIS . These management scenarios include clearance of airfield vegetation , habitat conversion , and control of feral cats as an invasive species . Model results provided the Navy with relative risk estimates under these different scenarios . Airfield clearance with habitat conversion increased extinction risk , but when coupled with feral cat control , risk was decreased . Because of the potential of sea -level rise due to human -induced global climate change , and its projected impact on the biodiversity of the Florida Keys , I estimated the impacts of rising sea levels on LKMR across its geographic distribution under scenarios of no , low (0 .3m ) , medium (0 .6m ) , and high (0 .9m ) sea -level rise . I also investigated impacts due to 2 treatments (allowing vegetation to migrate upslope and not allowing migration ) , and 2 land -use planning decisions (protection and abandonment of humandominated areas ) . Not surprisingly , under both treatments and both land -use planning decisions , I found a general trend of decreasing total potential LKMR habitat with increasing sea -level rise . Not allowing migration and protecting human -dominated areas both tended to decrease potential LKMR habitat as compared with allowing migration and abandoning human -dominated areas . In conclusion , conservation strategies at multiple scales need to be implemented in order to reduce threats to LKMR , such as development , invasive species , and global climate change .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /4402
Date: 2006-10-30

Citation

Population modeling in conservation planning of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /4402 .

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