Year of Publication

2008

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. David S. Maehr

Abstract

I studied a small, enigmatic, and imperiled black bear population in south-central Florida from 2004 - 2006. Annual home ranges of males (96.0 km2) were larger than those of females (32.2 km2). Female home ranges were smaller in winter than in summer or fall. At the landscape scale, bears selected forests, scrub, and citrus, but avoided urban areas. At the home range scale, bears selected bay swamp and hardwood hammock, but avoided urban areas and grassland. Bears selected bay swamp in winter, forests and scrub in summer, and forests, scrub, and marsh in fall. The bear’s diverse diet included citrus fruit. Important foods were acorn, saw palmetto fruit, and Florida carpenter ant. The local landscape is dominated by agriculture on private lands, as opposed to large contiguous forests on public land elsewhere in Florida black bear range. Mean patch size of forests was smaller, while edge density, diversity, and evenness were higher in south-central Florida than elsewhere in the state. Diversity of forest habitat may partially account for the persistence of the black bear in this fragmented landscape. Managers should encourage private landowners to adopt practices that promote bear habitat, and focus on habitat diversity, road crossings, and statewide metapopulation structure.

Share

COinS