Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. John J. Cox

Second Advisor

Dr. Songlin Fei

Abstract

We evaluated the influence of a landscape dominated by agriculture and an extensive road network on fine-scale movements of black bears (Ursus americanus) in south-central Florida. The objectives of this study were to (1) define landscape functionality including corridor use by the directionality and speed of bear movements, (2) to develop a model reflecting selected habitat characteristics during movements, (3) to identify habitat characteristics selected by bears at road-crossing locations, and (3) to develop and evaluate a predictive model for road-crossing locations based on habitat characteristics. We assessed models using GPS data from 20 adult black bears (9 F, 11 M), including 382 unique road-crossing events by 16 individuals. Directionality of bear movements were influenced by the density of cover and proximity to human infrastructure, and movement speed was influenced by density of cover and proximity to paved roads. We used the Brownian bridge movement model to assess road-crossing behavior. Landscape-level factors like density of cover and density of roads appeared more influential than roadside factors, vegetative or otherwise. Model validation procedures suggested strong predictive ability for the selected road-crossing model. These findings will allow managers to prioritize and implement sound strategies to promote connectivity and reduce road collisions.

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