Year of Publication

2009

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. Songlin Fei

Abstract

Florida is expanding its urban borders into areas of the native habitat. Increased expansion is predicted through the next several decades. Several sections of the state are home to large carnivores, such as Florida panther and black bear, which are important to ecosystem function. Expansion of roads and urban centers will greatly reduce the quality and quantity of carnivore habitat. In this study, I used Euclidean distance analyses and very high frequency (VHF) telemetry points to produce distance categories in which carnivores either have a negative/neutral/positive association with roads and urban centers. The seven black bear populations followed four different trends: 1) Slight avoidance of roads and urban centers, 2) strong avoidance of roads and urban centers, 3) neutrality toward roads and urban centers, and 3) one population with a positive association of roads. Florida panther showed strong avoidance to roads and urban centers. Finally I modeled Florida panther and black bear habitat using Maximum Entropy Species Distribution software and placed future urban expansion and sea level incursions associated with climate change over the habitat to find high priority conservation areas.

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