Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type






First Advisor

David S. Maehr


The Greater Chassahowitkza Ecosystem black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) population of west-central Florida is likely to be the smallest documented population of the species. It has experienced almost no recruitment since 1997 and exhibits behavior that appears to be a response to human activities. The local diet is dominated by the fruit of saw palmetto and sabal palm, species that exhibit patchy distributions and irregular mast production. These food supplies are often separated by busy highways that have killed 6 bears since 1997, 21% of known individuals. Motion-activated camera surveys suggest that the bear population is declining in this rapidly urbanizing part of Florida; results of the 2002 survey estimated 28 " 18 bears in the GCE, while 2003 estimates recorded 12 " 7 individuals (Lincoln-Petersen). Additionally, blood and hair samples suggest the genetics of this population are extremely depauperate. I recommend a different fire regime in palm-dominated habitats, restoring landscape connectivity to nearby bear populations, and supplementation of the population. Because the threats to this population are manifold and its immediate future is in doubt, a combination of conservation and management tools will be required to prevent extinction of this isolated black bear population.