A Data-Based Conservation Planning Tool for Florida Panthers
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Habitat loss and fragmentation are the greatest threats to the endangered Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi). We developed a data-based habitat model and user-friendly interface so that land managers can objectively evaluate Florida panther habitat. We used a geographic information system (GIS) and the Mahalanobis distance statistic (D 2) to develop a model based on broad-scale landscape characteristics associated with panther home ranges. Variables in our model were Euclidean distance to natural land cover, road density, distance to major roads, human density, amount of natural land cover, amount of semi-natural land cover, amount of permanent or semi-permanent flooded area–open water, and a cost–distance variable. We then developed a Florida Panther Habitat Estimator tool, which automates and replicates the GIS processes used to apply the statistical habitat model. The estimator can be used by persons with moderate GIS skills to quantify effects of land-use changes on panther habitat at local and landscape scales. Example applications of the tool are presented.
KeywordsPuma concolor coryi Florida panther Habitat model Mahalanobis distance
This study was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Geological Survey. We thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service for providing telemetry data. We thank Chris Belden of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for his help and support throughout the study. We also thank Jean Freeney of US Geological Survey, National Biological Information Infrastructure, for her assistance. We thank Chris Belden, Cindy Schultz, and Brad Rieck of the US Fish and Wildlife Service; Darrell Land of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; and a number of anonymous reviewers of our final report for providing helpful suggestions and comments on the habitat model. The use of trade names is for the information and convenience of the reader and does not constitute official endorsement or approval by the University of Tennessee or the US Geological Survey of any product to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. For further information on the Florida Panther Habitat Estimator, users should contact USFWS, 1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960.
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