Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 573–580 | Cite as

Urban land cover decreases the occurrence of a wetland endemic mammal and its associated vegetation

  • Chelsey R. Faller
  • Robert A. McCleeryEmail author


Urbanization and other land cover changes have been particularly detrimental to wetlands throughout the planet. One wetland specialist that may be sensitive to land cover changes surrounding wetlands is the round-tailed muskrat (Neofiber alleni; hereafter RTM). The RTM is a wetland obligate rodent that appears to have declined over the last half century and is a species of concern in Florida, where it is a near endemic. To determine if urbanization or other land cover influenced the distribution of RTMs we took a multi-scaled approach to examine the occurrence of RTMs and their associated vegetation in North-Central Florida. We detected RTMs on 19 of 72 sample plots and used a Classification And Regression Tree (CART) to determine that dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) was negatively associated with RTMs and maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) was positively associated with their occurrence on sampling plots. Examining the influence of landscape composition for 2 km surrounding our plots we found that RTM occurrence was negatively related to urban land cover. Further, we found that dogfennel increased and maidencane decreased as urbanization increased in the surrounding landscape. Our research suggests that conservation of RTMs and their associated vegetation should focus on limiting urban sprawl at least within 2 km of wetlands.


Round-tailed muskrat Conservation Hydrology Wetland plant communities Florida Occupancy Land cover 



We thank Terry Doonan and Clinton Smith of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for initiating and supporting this project. We acknowledge Kelly McPherson of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department and Alachua County Forever, Andrea Christman of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Michael Stallings of the Putnam Land Conservancy and Benjamin Dow of Plum Creek Timber for facilitating site access and project logistics. We acknowledge Christa Zweig of the South Florida Water Management District, Matthew Burgess of the University of Florida for their analytical and technical guidance. Finally we thanks all of the student volunteers from the University of Florida without whom this work would not have been possible. This research was funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Conservation Management InstituteVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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