• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Foreword
 Table of Contents
 Main
 Reference
 Appendix
 Back Cover














Group Title: Closing the gaps in Florida's wildlife habitat conservation system
Title: Closing the gaps in Florida's wildlife habitat conservation system:
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000128/00001
 Material Information
Title: Closing the gaps in Florida's wildlife habitat conservation system: recommendations to meet minimum conservation goals for declining wildlife species and rare plant and animal communities
Physical Description: iii, 239 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida -- Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Cox, James A
Kautz, Randy
MacLaughlin, Maureen
Gilbert, Terry
Publisher: Office of Environmental Services, FG&FWFC
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla
Publication Date: 1994
 Subjects
Subject: Wildlife conservation -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Habitat (Ecology) -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Endangered species -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Wildlife management -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 193-203.
Additional Physical Form: Electronic version available on the World Wide Web as part of the Linking Florida's Natural Heritage Collection.
Statement of Responsibility: James Cox ... et al..
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00000128
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA0283
notis - AKF3808
alephbibnum - 001976962
oclc - 31051383

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
    Foreword
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    Table of Contents
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Full Text






CLOSING THE GAPS IN

FLORIDAS WILDLIFE HABITAT

CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Recommendations to meet minimum conservation goals for
declining wildlife species and rare plant and animal communities.




















James Cox, Randy Kautz, Maureen MacLaughlin, and Terry Gilbert
Office of Environmental Services
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES


1994






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


FOREWORD

When Spanish anchors first dropped into Florida waters
nearly 500 years ago, Florida was essentially one large nature
preserve that also supported a population of about 1,000,000
native Americans. Wildlife at this time roamed freely across
35 million acres in search of food, shelter, and water, while
individual human settlements covered less area than most
modern-day parking lots (and certainly occurred with less
regularity). The state's road system in pre-Columbian times
consisted of narrow foot paths that were used by panthers,
bobcats, and black bears as frequently as by native
Americans, and the few human edifices present quickly gave
way to a surrounding landscape consisting of tall, majestic
trees, most hundreds of years old, and extensive open prairies
and marshes.
Today, many species of wildlife are caught in a state of
siege as the habitats needed to sustain wildlife populations
rapidly disappear. In just the last 50 years more than 8 mil-
lion acres of forest and wetland habitats (about 24% of the
State) were cleared to accommodate an expanding human
population. This area is 16-times larger than our state's
largest national forest and exceeds the total land area found
south of approximately Port Charlotte. As Florida's human
population continues to grow towards an estimated 16 million
residents by the year 2000, increasing demands will be placed
on our remaining natural systems, and wildlife populations
will be forced into smaller and smaller areas as a result.
If wildlife populations are to persist in the face of such
sweeping changes, we must conserve a base of habitat that is
capable of sustaining wildlife populations far into the future.
This habitat base should consist of preservation areas that
are publicly owned and managed primarily for natural
conditions, but it must also include private lands where spe-
cial land-use agreements are arranged that allow natural
resources to be conserved without sacrificing all private uses
of the land.
Florida has succeeded in protecting many habitat areas
through ambitious land acquisition and land-use planning
efforts, but large gaps still exist in the statewide system of
wildlife conservation lands. For example, no existing conser-
vation area is large enough to support a viable population of
Florida panthers or Audubon's crested caracaras.
Furthermore, the habitat base provided to other rare species
by existing conservation areas is dangerously small, and
some species (e.g., Florida black bear, American swallow-
tailed kite, and short-tailed hawk) may be extirpated unless
we enlarge the land base that can be managed on behalf of
wildlife. The gaps in the statewide system of wildlife
conservation areas identified in this report must be closed if
we are to maintain these and other rare species as part of the
Florida landscape.
Although closing the gaps requires perseverance, money,
education, and political and community support from today's
generation of decision makers, the results of these and other
planning efforts will be most important to future generations.
This fact might cause members of the current generation to
feel no sense of urgency. However, the next decade repre-
sents a critical turning point in efforts to conserve habitat for
several rare species. If we fail to act now, the chances of suc-
cessfully maintaining species such as Florida panther,
Audubon's crested caracara, Florida black bear, and others


will diminish greatly. Just as we now blame past generations
for the extinction of the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet,
and ivory-billed woodpecker, future Floridians will ultimate-
ly hold our generation responsible for the manner in which
we conserve the species and natural resources that we inherit-
ed. Perhaps the greatest insult we could ever bear would be
to document the problems that threaten some of Florida's
rarest plants and animals, propose solutions to these
problems, and then fail to act with proper speed and resolve.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many individuals contributed their valuable time towards
the completion of this report. Ken Haddad and Gail
McAuley, Florida Department of Environmental Protection,
assisted in procuring the Landsat imagery used to create a
statewide map of land cover. The quality of the land-cover
map developed from Landsat imagery and used in most
analyses was the result of the dedicated efforts of Greg
Mauldin, Jessie Day, Khaleda Hatim, Doug Holman, and
other personnel currently or formerly employed by the
Florida Department of Transportation. Lance Ham piloted
the helicopter used during the land-cover classification work
and was always willing to go the extra mile needed to com-
plete the analyses within the brief time allowed. Mark
Kopeny assisted in the construction of range maps used in
our abbreviated "gap analysis" (described in Section 6.3.4).
We also owe thanks to staff of the Florida Natural Areas
Inventory and Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission who helped to develop and maintain important
databases describing the occurrence of rare species and natur-
al communities throughout Florida. We are especially grate-
ful to Dr. Allan Egbert and Colonel Robert Brantly for their
support for this project from beginning to end.
Extremely helpful comments on earlier drafts of this
report were provided by a courageous group that persevered
through a somewhat byzantine structure and a mountain of
infelicitous prose. We appreciate the constructive comments
and guidance provided by Brian Barnett, Jim Beever, Jim
Brady, Mike Delany, Kim Dryden, Diane Eggeman, John
Fitzpatrick, Phil Frank, Jeff Gore, Paul Gray, Brad Hartman,
Tom Logan, Dave Maehr, Ken Meyer, Brian Millsap, Paul
Moler, Frank Montalbano, Steve Nesbitt, Katy NeSmith,
Larry Perrin, Mary Ann Poole, Doug Runde, Beth Stys, and
John Wooding.
Finally, Sharon Arnold, Amber Ayers, and John Stys
provided invaluable assistance by helping to prepare the
numerous figures, cumbersome tables, and lengthy text for
final publication. This report is a product of Florida's
Nongame Wildlife Program.






ii FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


TABLE OF CONTENTS

F O R E W O R D .. ..... . ............................. . ........................................................................................... i
A C K N O W LED G EM EN TS ................. ........................ ................................................................................... ...
TA BLE O F CO N TEN TS........................................................................... ......................................ii
EXECUTIVE SUM M ARY ............................................................................................. ................. .......
O RGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW ........................ ........................................................................................... ............2

SECTION 1. SCOPE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM ..................................................... .........................3
SECTION 1.1. COMPONENTS AND VALUE OF FLORIDA'S BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY........................ .3
SECTION 1.2. FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE LOSS OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.....................................4

SECTION 2. PROJECT ABSTRACT AND BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF REPORT SECTIONS .....................................7
SECTION 2.1. OBJECTIVES AND GENERAL APPROACH.............. ............................ ........................7
SECTION 2.2. OVERVIEW OF DATA SETS ...................................................................................................... 7
SECTION 2.3. POPULATION VIABILITY ANALYSIS............................................................... ....................... 7
SECTION 2.4. FOCAL SPECIES ANALYSIS AND DESIGNATION OF STRATEGIC HABITAT
CONSERVATION AREAS............................................. ............................................................ 8
SECTION 2.5. REGIONAL MAPS OF HOT SPOTS OF BIODIVERSITY .......................................... .........................9
SECTION 2.6. USES OF PROJECT MAPS ..................... ....... .. ... ...............................9
SECTION 2.7. AVAILABILITY OF PROJECT MAPS............................................................................ .............................9

SECTION 3. DEVELOPMENT OF GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM DATA SETS....................................11
SECTION 3.1. A STATEWIDE LAND-COVER MAP.......................................................................... ........................ 11
SECTION 3.2. A STATEWIDE MAP OF CONSERVATION LANDS................................................... ......... .......... 11
SECTION 3.3. OTHER GEOGRAPHIC DATA SETS ..................................................................................................16

SECTION 4. DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION ON WILDLIFE SPECIES ................................ ......19
SECTION 4.1. SELECTION OF SPECIES FOR ANALYSIS................................................................... ....................19
SECTION 4.2. DEVELOPMENT OF DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION .............................................. .....................20

SECTION 5. ASSESSING POPULATION VIABILITY ................................................................................23
SECTION 5.1. ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABILITY...................................... ............................ ......................23
SECTION 5.2. INBREEDING AND INBREEDING DEPRESSION ........................................................ .....................29
SECTION 5.3. GUIDELINES FOR ESTABLISHING MINIMUM LEVELS OF SECURITY ........................................31

SECTION 6. IDENTIFICATION OF GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SYSTEM.....................33
SECTION 6.1. THEORY PERTINENT TO THE IDENTIFICATION AND DESIGN OF CONSERVATION AREAS ..33
SECTION 6.2. ANALYSES OF INDIVIDUAL FOCAL SPECIES AND DEVELOPMENT OF SPECIES
CONSERVATION PLANS .................................... ................................................................35
Section 6.2.1. Am erican Crocodile .................................................................... ..................... .........................35
Section 6.2.2. Am erican Oystercatcher.................... ............................................................................................. 36
Section 6.2.3. American Swallow-tailed Kite................ ............................................................................37
Section 6.2.4. Atlantic and Gulf Salt Marsh Snakes.............. .....................................................................38
Section 6.2.5. Audubon's Crested Caracara.............. ......................................................................................... 39
Section 6.2.6. Beach M ice.................... ............................. ..............................................44
Section 6.2.7. Black-whiskered Vireo........... ........................................................... ........................ 46
Section 6.2.8. B obcat ............................. ..................................................................................................................47
Section 6.2.9. Bog Frog ............................................. ........................................................................................ 47
Section 6.2.10. Cuban Snowy Plover....................... ...................................48
Section 6.2.11. Florida Black Bear ........................................................................................ 50
Section 6.2.12. Florida Burrowing Owl................ .............................................................................63
Section 6.2.13. Florida Grasshopper Sparrow ................................................................................................64
Section 6.2.14. Florida Panther....................................................................................... ............................ ............. 64
Section 6.2.15. Florida Sandhill Crane ............................. ............................................................. 72
Section 6.2.16. Florida Scrub Jay.................................................................................................. 76
Section 6.2.17. Florida Scrub Lizard ................................................. ......................................................... 84
Section 6.2.18. Fox Squirrels ............................................. . ......................................................... 85
Section 6.2.19. Gopher Tortoise ............. ....................... .......................................................... 86
Section 6.2.20. Lim pkin................................ ....................................................................................... . ........... 86
Section 6.2.21. Mangrove Cuckoo................... ..................................................................92
Section 6.2.22. M bottled Duck ... .......... .................... . ..................................................... ....... 93






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM iii


Section 6.2.23. Pine Barrens Treefrog..........................................................................................................................95
Section 6.2.24. Piping Plover ...................... .................................................................................................................96
Section 6.2.25. Red-cockaded Woodpecker.......................................................................... .................................96
Section 6.2.26. Seaside Sparrows.................................................................................................. 101
Section 6.2.27. Short-tailed Hawk..............................................................................................................................103
Section 6.2.28. Snail K ite ............................................................................................... ...................................... 104
Section 6.2.29. Southeastern American Kestrel ....................................................................... ............................105
Section 6.2.30. Southern Bald Eagle.................................................................................................................10
Section 6.2.31. White-crowned Pigeon ...................................................................................... ..........................111
Section 6.2.32. W ild T urkey ....................................................................................................................................... 114
Section 6.2.33. W ilson's Plover ............................................................................................................................... 14
SECTION 6.3. HABITAT CONSERVATION AREAS FOR OTHER ELEMENTS OF BIODIVERSITY.................115
Section 6.3.1. Areas Supporting Globally Rare Plant Species ............................... .................... 115
Section 6.3.2. Bat Maternity and Winter Roosting Caves....................... .................................. .....................119
Section 6.3.3. Coastal Communities...................................................................................... .....................................120
Section 6.3.4. G ap A nalysis........................................ .......................................................................................... 121
Section 6.3.5. Pine Rocklands ...................... ..............................................................................................................124
Section 6.3.6. Prairie Birds.........................................................................................................................................127
Section 6.3.7. Sandhill Communities ......................................................................................... ..........................128
Section 6.3.8. Scrub Communities ...................................................................................... .................................129
Section 6.3.9. Tropical Hardwood Hammock Communities................................ ..........................................132
Section 6.3.10. Wetlands Important to Wading Birds......................... .... ................. ........................ 134

SECTION 7. CLOSING THE GAPS: AN AGGREGATE MAP OF IMPORTANT HABITAT
AREAS IN FLORIDA...............................................................................................................................137
SECTION 7.1. STRATEGIC HABITAT CONSERVATION AREAS IN FLORIDA ......................................... ... 137
SECTION 7.2. COMPARISON OF AGGREGATE MAP OF STRATEGIC HABITAT CONSERVATION AREAS
WITH OTHER MAPS OF NATURAL RESOURCES ...................... ............... ..............................142

SECTION 8. IDENTIFYING REGIONAL HOT SPOTS............................................................................................147
SECTION 8.1. MAPS OF REGIONAL HOT SPOTS............................................. ............................................. 147
Section 8.1.1. Apalachee Region................................................................................................................................149
Section 8.1.2. Central Florida Region ...................................................................................... ............................153
Section 8.1.3. East Central Florida Region .............................................................................. ............................157
Section 8.1.4. North Central Florida Region ............................................................................ ............................ 161
Section 8.1.5. Northeast Florida Region........................................................................... ....................................165
Section 8.1.6. South Florida Region..................................................................................................................... 169
Section 8.1.7. Southwest Florida Region ................................................................................. ............................173
Section 8.1.8. Tampa Bay Region ..................... .........................................................................................................177
Section 8.1.9. Treasure Coast Region....................................................................................... ............................ 181
Section 8.1.10. West Florida Region.......................................................................................... .......................... 85
Section 8.1.11. Withlacoochee Region....................................................................................... ..........................189
SECTION 8.2. TECHNIQUES FOR PROTECTING VALUABLE NATURAL RESOURCES..................................191

LITERATURE CITATIONS..................................................................................................................................................193
A P P E N D IC E S ............................................................................... .....................................................................................204






























COLOR LEGEND
EXISTING CONS AREAS
*SHCA'S

200 km


Figure 1. Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for Florida.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report describes habitat areas in Florida that should
be conserved if key components of the state's biological
diversity are to be maintained. The project employed a com-
puterized Geographic Information System to manipulate geo-
graphic data sets and create distribution maps for selected
species of wildlife, threatened species of plants, and rare
plant communities. The geographic data sets used in the pro-
ject included a statewide land-cover map derived from
Landsat satellite imagery; over 25,000 geographically refer-
enced points documenting known occurrences of rare ani-
mals, plants, and communities; digitized maps of public and
private lands devoted to some extent to conservation; a digi-
tized general soils map; a digitized map of the statewide road
network; a digitized map of selected private lands; and a
digitized map of county boundaries.
Drawing from techniques recently developed in the
fields of wildlife management and conservation biology, the
Geographic Information System was used to assess the
degree of security provided to rare species by the current sys-
tem of conservation lands and to identify important habitat
areas not currently protected. The lands recommended in the
report for additional protection are referred to as Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas and are displayed in Figure 1.
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas depict lands needed to
meet minimum conservation goals for the following:
30 species of wildlife inadequately protected by the
current system of conservation lands,
high quality sandhill sites,
high quality scrub sites,
high quality pine rocklands sites,
high quality examples of tropical hardwood
hammocks,
bat maternity caves and winter roost caves,
wetlands important to the breeding success of eight
species of wading birds, and
lands important to the long-term survival of 105
globally rare species of plants.
The Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas encompass
4.82 million acres, or approximately 13% of the land area of
Florida. These lands are essential to providing some of
state's rarest animals, plants, and natural communities with
the land base necessary to sustain populations into the future.
The existing system of conservation lands in Florida covers
6.95 million acres, or 20% of the land area of the state. Thus,
if all of the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas were pro-
tected, approximately 11.7 million acres, or about 33% of the
land area of Florida, would fall into some type of
conservation land use.
It seems unlikely that all lands within the identified
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas will ever come under
State ownership, even if all landowners were willing to sell.
Since 1974, the State has spent an average of $1,182 per acre
to purchase land for recreation, conservation, and historical
preservation. At this rate, $5.7 billion would be needed to
purchase all 4.82 million acres within the Strategic Habitat
Conservation Areas, much more than the $3.2 billion autho-
rized under Preservation 2000. Fortunately, many of the
lands within the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas are in
low intensity land uses, such as silviculture and rangeland,
that are compatible with the habitat conservation needs of


many species. In fact, the management of wildlife habitat on
many private lands has been excellent, and conservation
measures should focus on maintaining existing land uses on
private lands through positive incentives such as tax breaks,
conservation easements, or cooperative agreements with
landowners. These techniques have the potential to provide
adequate protection without the need for fee-simple
acquisition by the State.
During the course of this project, a large database of
known locations of many animals, plants, and natural com-
munities was assembled. A separate set of maps, referred to
as Regional Biodiversity Hot Spots maps, was created to
display as much of this information as possible within each
of the 11 Regional Planning Council regions of Florida.
The Regional Biodiversity Hot Spots maps display the
following information:
areas where large numbers of 52 selected species
co-occur,
areas supporting rare plant and wildlife communities,
over 25,000 known locations of rare plants, animals,
and natural communities,
county boundaries and conservation land boundaries,
and
coastal areas that support key components of
biological diversity.
Each regional map is accompanied with a description
of the biological resources occurring in key areas within
each region. The purpose of the Regional Biodiversity Hot
Spots maps is to convey more detailed information on the
known locations of as many components of biological
diversity as possible, regardless of whether or not they fall
within proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas, to
help meet the need for conservation information at regional
and local levels.
The maps appearing in this report are intended to
provide guidance to decision makers involved in public land
acquisition, land use planning, development regulation, and
other land conservation efforts. The maps represent our best
estimate of those Florida lands that require some form of
conservation to ensure that biodiversity is maintained for
future generations. However, these maps represent only a
snapshot of Florida's conservation needs at one time. For
example, the vegetation map used to create species distribu-
tion maps was based on satellite imagery dated 1985-1989;
the species occurrence information is current through 1991-
1993, depending on the species; and the database of public
land boundaries extends only through 1992. As a conse-
quence, some areas identified for protection may already be
in public ownership or may no longer support the habitat
features or species predicted to occur there, and the maps
should not be incorporated into law or rule as inviolate zones
in which no development may occur. Rather, the maps
should be used as a layer of information when decisions are
made concerning land acquisition, land-use planning, and
development regulation.
New data are continually being added to the project data-
base as new parcels of land come into public ownership, new
records of the locations of rare species become available, and
more up-to-date vegetation maps are created. As a result, the
latest versions of the project maps actually reside in the com-
puter. Before using the maps in this report for detailed man-
agement decisions, users should contact the Office of






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Environmental Services, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida,
32399-1600, for the latest information. The maps presented in
this report are available in hard copy at a variety of scales and
in digital formats for use in computer mapping packages.

ORGANIZATIONAL OVERVIEW

This document is intended for use by a broad audience of
decision makers, concerned citizens, land-use planners, land
managers, biologists, and others. We have organized the
report to suit these varied interests while also providing appro-
priate technical information for those who seek more detail.
Because of the complexity and scope of some of the analyses
performed, the report is not organized in the format of
"Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion" traditionally
used in technical journals and reports. Instead, we chose to
subdivide the report into coherent sections that each may con-
tain distinctive methods, results, and discussion elements.
Literature citations and appendices follow the individual sec-
tions. The Appendices contain lengthy tables and more
detailed information that is abbreviated elsewhere in the
report. Appendix 1 is especially important to note since it
contains the scientific names of all plant and animal taxa men-
tioned in the text.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SECTION 1. SCOPE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM


SECTION 1.1. COMPONENTS AND
VALUE OF FLORIDA'S
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Florida is widely recognized as one of
North America's most important reservoirs
of biological diversity. Millsap et al. (1990)
reported that 668 terrestrial and freshwater
vertebrate taxa occur regularly in Florida.
This list includes 75 mammals, 283 birds
(excluding some migratory species), 127 rep-
tiles, 57 amphibians, and 126 fishes. About
115 (17%) of these are not found elsewhere
in the United States (Muller et al. 1989).
Florida also contains approximately 3,500
species of vascular plants, of which about
8% are endemic (Ward 1979, Muller et al.
1989). The total number of invertebrate
species inhabiting Florida is not known, but
at least 410 invertebrates are thought to be
endemic (Muller et al. 1989). The existence
of so many endemic species in Florida con-
fers upon us a weighty responsibility: our
conservation and management activities are
of global importance in efforts to conserve
the diversity of life on earth.
The diversity of life in Florida has been
shaped by many events. Over geological
time, changing sea levels isolated popula-
tions of plants and animals on sandy scrub
islands and allowed them to evolve into
unique life forms. Florida also represents a
transitional area between the tropical West
Indies and temperate North America, and the
state contains faunal and floral elements of
both. The diversity of life in Florida has
been maintained to some degree by the fact
that vast wetlands, a hot climate, and sandy
soils made Florida unattractive to many early
settlers. Rates of settlement lagged behind
other eastern states (Tebeau 1971), and today
Florida still has many large forested tracts
that support several wide-ranging verte-
brates. The only population of panthers
(Figure 2) remaining in the eastern U.S. is
restricted to remote areas of southwest
Florida. Black bears (Figure 3) have been
eliminated from much of their former range
in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and other
southeastern states (Pelton 1985), but size-
able populations are found in several areas of
Florida. Forest clearing and wetland
alterations have eliminated American
swallow-tailed kites (Figure 4) from most of
their former range, but Florida's large tracts
of forested wetlands support the most impor-
tant populations of this elegant species
remaining in North America (Meyer and
Collopy 1990).


Figure 2. Florida supports the only population of panthers remaining in the eastern U.S.


Figure 3. Populations of black bear have been eliminated from large portions of their former
range in the southeastern U.S.


Figure 4. Florida represents one of the la:
swallow-tailed kite found in North America.


ongholds for populations of the American






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Florida is also biologically diverse in terms of the number
of recognized plant communities. The Florida Natural Areas
Inventory (1990) describes 81 natural communities that occur
in Florida, 13 of which are endemic (Muller et al. 1989).
Examples of rare or endemic Florida communities are coastal
strand, mangrove swamp, tropical hardwood hammock, pine
rocklands, scrub, sandhill, and coral reef (Muller et al. 1989).
Human activities have caused all of these communities to
decline or to become significantly degraded in quality, and,
just as several plants and animals are in jeopardy of extinction
in Florida, so too are these native communities at risk of dis-
appearing forever.
The importance of maintaining the varied elements that
make up Florida's biological diversity can be measured along
many scales. Norse et al. (1986) proposed that protecting nat-
ural diversity is important because: (1) foods, medicines, and
other products from living organisms are essential to human
existence; (2) human welfare requires basic ecosystem ser-
vices such as clean soil, water, and air; flood control; water
purification; and amelioration of climatic conditions; (3)
plants, animals, and natural landscapes have beneficial effects
on human health and well-being; and (4) humans are ethically
bound to provide responsible stewardship over the planet
they dominate.
The potential for future discoveries from native species
cannot be overstated, though it is often overlooked and always
undervalued economically. Approximately 1,500 new com-
pounds are discovered each year from wild plants, and about
300 of these have potential use in medicine. A relative of the
rare Florida yew, for example, produces a special group of
compounds that offers the greatest hope of any new discovery
in the treatment of certain cancers (Land Acquisition Advisory
Council 1991). The Lake Placid scrub mint, an endangered
plant found only in a small area of the Lake Wales Ridge in
Polk and Highlands counties, was recently found to have a
previously unknown compound with potent insect repellant
properties (Eisner et al. 1990). Blood of the endangered West
Indian manatee has poor clotting capabilities, which may aid
in research on hemophilia (Wilson 1988).
A diverse natural environment also plays an important
economic role that can be portrayed in terms that are perhaps
more easily grasped. More than 67% of Florida's residents
participated in "nonconsumptive" natural resource activities
such as bird watching, nature study, canoeing, and hiking in
1985. Each participant spent an average of $221 on food,
lodging, transportation, field guides, binoculars, bird seed, and
other items. Combining these figures, nature enthusiasts con-
tributed $1.3 billion to Florida's economy while enjoying the
state's natural diversity (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1987a). Likewise, Florida residents participating in "con-
sumptive" activities (e.g., hunting and fishing) contributed
about $3.8 billion to the state's economy in 1985. If con-
sumptive and nonconsumptive activities are combined, recre-
ational activities associated with Florida's diverse natural her-
itage contributed $5.2 billion to the state's economy in 1985.
At the time, this was the second largest "industry" in Florida,
and every indication is that this "industry" has expanded con-
siderably in the years since 1985 (Duda 1987). Continued
recreational opportunities such as these rely on a well func-
tioning environment made up of myriad diverse elements.
Widespread support for protecting Florida's environment
has been documented repeatedly in various opinion polls


(Duda 1987). About 80% of the state's residents believe that
development in fragile areas containing rare species should be
prohibited (Duda 1987), and at least 60% of Floridians believe
that spending on the environment should be increased.
Quoting from a report by deHaven-Smith and Gatlin (1985):
"Overall, the Florida public is strongly supportive of the
state's efforts to protect the environment and quality of
life. The majority of respondents say that the natural
environment is deteriorating and that land-use regula-
tions should be strengthened. Respondents overwhelm-
ingly support stronger laws to prevent pollution and
protect fish and wildlife ..."
Such statements help to describe the sentiments of
Floridians in quantitative terms, but perhaps the most impor-
tant reason for maintaining native wildlife and natural habitats
rests along a dimension that has no price tag. The conserva-
tion of natural areas and wildlife populations provides us with
many unparalleled experiences: the sight of a bald eagle soar-
ing above rivers and lakes; the mysterious night sounds of
barred owls and limpkins that slip from swamps and sloughs;
the pursuit offish and game in remote wilderness areas; the
fresh, clean smell of pinewoods on a spring morning or the
sharp, pungent aroma of a rosemary scrub. These and other
experiences found only in the natural world quench a deep-
seated human thirst for natural aesthetics and renew our links
with the world around us. Although it is difficult to quantify
the extreme importance of these natural experiences, especial-
ly to future generations, a loss of such opportunities will likely
entail a very dear price.

SECTION 1.2. FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE
LOSS OF BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Florida is a bustling urban and agricultural state with a
human population fast approaching 14 million (Duda 1987).
The unspoiled splendor discovered by early Europeans exists
only in scattered patches, and evidence of people can be found
at every turn. In addition to our resident population, Florida's
sandy beaches, sparkling waters, and subtropical climate
attract 39 million visitors each year (Duda 1987). These visi-
tors use airports, roads, shopping centers, restaurants, and
many other facilities that displace natural areas. The growth
of Florida's resident and tourist populations has led to a dra-
matic destruction of forest and wetland areas. According to
data available from the U.S. Forest Service (Kautz 1993),
today's Floridian sees a landscape that is 30% agricultural,
13% urban, and only about 57% in some type of forested or
seminaturall" land cover (Kautz 1993). However, only a por-
tion of this latter category might be considered "natural" since
most of our remaining forest and prairie lands are subjected to
some form of human disturbance.
Human habitation has taken its toll on several natural
communities and wildlife populations that were not very com-
mon to begin with in Florida. Coastal strand (Figure 5), a
community dominated by herbaceous vegetation growing on
and amid sand dunes, originally occurred as a narrow, contin-
uous strip along the high energy shorelines of both coasts.
Johnson and Barbour (1990) estimate that coastal develop-
ment and other factors have reduced the coverage of this com-
munity type by more than 50%, leaving only about 5,260 ha
(13,000 acres) statewide (Kautz et al. 1993). Pine rocklands
(Figure 6) are a rare association of slash pines and tropical






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Perhaps even more disturbing is the fate of formerly
common forest types such as those dominated by longleaf
pine (Figure 9). The longleaf pine forest known as a "sand-
hill" community once covered much of the panhandle and the
northern two-thirds of the peninsula (Davis 1967). Sandhill
communities support a rich vertebrate fauna that includes
species such as gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker,
fox squirrel, pocket gopher, pine snake, and gopher frog.
Sandhill communities once occupied 2.78 million ha (6.89
million acres) or 20% of the original Florida landscape (Davis
1967). Today only 344,530 ha (851,000 acres) of sandhill
remain in all of Florida (Kautz et al. 1993), and only about
38% of this acreage is found in current public land. Perhaps
the most decisive figure that demonstrates the widespread
loss of natural areas is that our once common sandhill com-
munities have been reduced to several disparate patches
covering less than 10% of their former area.
Figure 5. The coastal strand communities associated with high-energy As the foregoing discussion suggests, the primary prob-
beaches have been eliminated from 50% of its range. lem confronting Florida's varied wildlife and plant communi-
ties is a precipitous loss of habitat. Due to the unparalleled
growth of the state's human population, we now face a
situation where only a few thousand acres remain of several
important natural communities. If we are to maintain the
current diversity of plant and animal life found in Florida,
our system of conservation areas must be capable of support-
ing thousands of species on only a fraction of the original
land base.
In addition to outright habitat loss, other problems stem
from the fragmentation of our remaining patches of natural
habitat. Habitat fragmentation refers to the tendency for
remaining patches of habitat to become reduced in size and






Figure 6. About 21,000 acres of the rare Pine Rockland community remain in
southern Florida.
plants found on limestone outcrops in Broward, Dade, and
Monroe counties. This community formerly covered about
154,650 ha (382,000 acres) (Davis 1967), but development
has reduced the total area to fewer than 8,500 ha (21,000
acres) today. Tropical hardwood hammock (Figure 7), anoth-
er rare community found on limestone outcrops in extreme
South Florida, is presently estimated to cover only 6,070 ha
(15,000 acres) (Kautz et al. 1993). This community contains
some of the rarest plants and animals found in all of the
United States (Layne 1974, Snyder et al. 1990).
Great concern has developed over the future of the once
common scrub communities of Florida. These communities
(Figure 8) are nearly endemic to Florida and occur on ancient
sand dunes found along Florida's central ridges and just
inland of both coasts (Myers 1990). Scrub communities sup-
port some of Florida's rarest and most distinctive plants and
animals. Whereas scrub formerly covered approximately
417,000 ha (1.03 million acres) of Florida (Davis 1967), only
170,850 ha (422,000 acres) remain today (Kautz et al. 1993).
More than 82% of the scrub habitat found along Florida's
central ridge the heartland of biodiversity for this commu- Figure 7. About 15,000 acres of the rare Tropical Hardwood Hammock
nity type has been lost to residential and agricultural community remain in southern Florida.
development (J. Fitzpatrick, pers. comm.).






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


increasingly isolated from one another as land is cleared. This
creates problems since some species range widely and require
large tracts of habitat to survive. As patch sizes fall below the
minimum area needed to sustain a breeding pair, a species will
likely disappear in areas that otherwise have appropriate vege-
tative conditions. Red-cockaded woodpeckers, for example,
require 80-160 ha (200-400 acres) of older growth pine forests
to support breeding pairs; isolated patches of old-growth pine
forests much smaller than 80 ha (200 acres) will rarely contain
red-cockaded woodpeckers.
Yet another effect of habitat fragmentation stems from
the fact that as habitat is lost, the remaining patches tend to
become increasingly distant from one another. If patches of
appropriate habitat are sufficiently large to support a breeding
pair yet are so far apart that individuals cannot move easily
from one patch to another and intermix with other members of
the species, then the presence of the species across all remain-
ing patches becomes increasingly unlikely. A breeding group
of red-cockaded woodpeckers requires 80-160 ha (200-400
acres) of habitat, but sustainable populations of red-cockaded
woodpeckers require at least 20-30 territories in close proxim-
ity to one another. Isolated patches of red-cockaded habitat
that are much smaller than 1,210-3,240 ha (3,000-8,000 acres)
may not support populations for extended lengths of time (see
Baker 1983).
Small habitat fragments also tend to have a greater
percentage of "edge habitat" when compared with larger habi-
tat fragments (see Shafer 1990). Some of the deleterious fea-
tures commonly associated with edge habitats near urban and
residential areas are decreased survival and reproduction
owing to increased predation, collisions with vehicles, and
nest parasitism (Ambuel and Temple 1983, Harris 1984), as
well as fundamental changes in habitat owing to changes in
species composition (Janzen 1983) and habitat management
procedures (Doren et al. 1987).
Another problem affecting Florida's biodiversity is land
management practices on the remaining areas with forest


cover. About 35% of Florida's remaining forest cover
(including wetland forests) is in short rotation, commercial
pine plantations (Bechtold et al. 1990). While this manage-
ment practice is still suitable for some wildlife species, it also
eliminates many plant and animal species that are normally
associated with natural pine forests (Harris et al. 1974, Umber
and Harris 1974, Repenning and Labisky 1985, McComb et
al. 1986).
Similarly, vast expanses of Florida's remnant natural wet-
lands have radically altered hydroperiods owing to past drain-
ing or flood-control practices, particularly in the Everglades
and the Upper St. Johns River. Wading birds have abandoned
many of their former breeding sites within these large wetland
systems (Runde et al. 1991). Other natural wetlands have
been altered by polluted runoff originating from intensively
developed urban and agricultural lands. Still other natural
habitats in Florida have been invaded by exotic plants (e.g.,
melaleuca, Australian pine, Brazilian pepper, water hyacinth,
and hydrilla) that often force out native plant species and
eliminate appropriate habitat conditions for many native
animal species (Dalrymple 1988).
Although present conditions may seem grim, the future
will be much worse unless we engage in a renewed commit-
ment to the conservation, management, and restoration of
habitat areas. Within the foreseeable future, we may be left
with only a few thousand disparate acres of some of the
world's rarest community types. If we are to maintain
Florida's diverse biological richness in the face of the sweep-
ing changes taking place, our system of public lands and
conservation areas must be capable of supporting at least
4,000 known species of plants and animals, and hundreds or
thousands of little known invertebrates. In this report, we
identify some of the most valuable tracts of wildlife habitat
that remain in Florida, and we propose methods for protecting
these important areas.


Figure 8. Some of Florida's rarest plants and animals are associated with the Figure 9. Sandhill communities once occupied nearly 7 million acres in
endemic oak scrub (pictured here) and sand pine scrub communities. Florida. Today only 0.8 million acres remain.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SECTION 2. PROJECT ABSTRACT AND BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF REPORT SECTIONS


SECTION 2.1. OBJECTIVES AND GENERAL APPROACH

The objective of this report is to identify lands in Florida
that, at a minimum, must be conserved and managed in order
to ensure the long-term survival of key components of
Florida's biological diversity. This objective was pursued by
(1) identifying habitat areas that are essential to the survival
of rare and declining species not adequately protected by the
current system of conservation areas; (2) identifying areas
important to several globally endangered species of plants
and rare animal and plant communities; and (3) identifying
regional areas of high biological diversity ("hot spots") to
assist in local land-use planning.
The analyses are framed by three fundamental assumptions:

1. Although some private land owners may be excellent
land stewards, private ownership cannot guarantee that
important natural resources will be maintained even to the
next generation. Therefore, some degree of public man-
agement of important habitat areas is required to ensure
that meaningful protection is provided the biological
resources found within those areas. The level of public
management may be complete (as would result through
acquisition of the area), or it may be limited (as would
result from securing conservation easements or other land-
use agreements).

2. Selecting new lands for public management will
depend on the extent to which the various components of
biodiversity are protected by the current system of conser-
vation areas. Conservation efforts should target those
components that currently are least adequately protected.

3. The areas identified as requiring some level of protec-
tion must be sufficiently large, must be well distributed
across a broad geographic area, and must possess other
acceptable landscape and habitat characteristics so as to
provide species and communities with acceptable chances
of survival over very long periods of time.

Given the tremendous variety of species and natural
communities that occurs in Florida, the task of assembling
information on all components of biological diversity is
impossible. To accomplish as much as possible in a
reasonably short time frame, our analyses proceeded in the
following manner:

1. We identified a set of 44 focal species to serve as
"umbrella" or "indicator" species of biological diversity in
Florida and assembled as much information as possible on
the locations of these key species.

2. We assessed the level of security provided these
focal species by the current system of conservation areas,
and we proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for
30 species lacking adequate representation in current
conservation areas. The proposed conservation areas out-
lined for each species were based on the most recent
information available on conservation area planning. We
also considered how protection of an area for a single


species might also protect larger communities and multi-
species assemblages.

3. In addition to the 44 focal species, we assembled as
much information as possible on the locations of other key
components of biological diversity, including rare plants,
invertebrates, and natural communities. We used this
information to identify additional Strategic Habitat
Conservation Areas to add to the minimum conservation
measures outlined for focal species.

4. We developed regional maps displaying information on
the distribution of rare plants, animals, and natural com-
munities. These maps highlight many additional areas of
potential importance and can be used to expand upon the
minimum habitat conservation recommendations proposed
as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas.

Of course, the focal species selected for detailed analyses
are not perfect indicators of the minimum conservation areas
needed by all species and all communities in Florida (Ryti
1992, Mills et al. 1993). Furthermore, the collection of as
much information as we could find does not ensure that we
have all the information we need. Many species exist whose
basic taxonomy, distributions, and life-history requirements
have not yet been determined. Nevertheless, we believe that
our data-driven approach has identified lands that, if con-
served, will meet the minimum long-term conservation needs
of a majority of Florida's rare species and natural communities.

SECTION 2.2. OVERVIEW OF DATA SETS

This project involved the use of many types of geograph-
ically referenced data to derive a final set of maps of impor-
tant lands in Florida. The computerized mapping capability
of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology was
the only tool capable of handling these data efficiently.
GIS was used to manipulate and analyze three principle data
sets: (1) land cover and vegetation data, (2) public land
boundaries, and (3) documented occurrences of species
and communities.
The presence or absence of most species is closely relat-
ed to land cover, vegetation type, and soil conditions. A map
of land cover and vegetation was created using 1985-1989
Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, and information on soils
was obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(1991). Public land boundaries either were digitized by hand
from available paper maps or were obtained in digital form
from other sources. Occurrence records for rare species and
communities were obtained from the Florida Natural Areas
Inventory, the Florida Nongame Wildlife Program, the
Florida breeding bird atlas project (Kale et al. 1992), species
experts, the scientific literature, and several other sources.

SECTION 2.3. POPULATION VIABILITY ANALYSIS

We considered the threats of environmental variability,
catastrophic events, and, to a lesser extent, inbreeding depres-
sion in determining the security offered wildlife species by
the current system of conservation areas. An analysis of







FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


population viability led to the conclusion that 10 populations,
each consisting of at least 200 individuals, would provide a
minimally acceptable level of security (i.e., be "viable")
against the threats posed by a fluctuating environment and
inbreeding depression. This minimal level of security also
requires that the 10 populations be distributed over a broad
geographic area to protect against catastrophic events that can
decimate entire populations restricted to a single area.

SECTION 2.4. FOCAL SPECIES ANALYSIS
AND DESIGNATION OF STRATEGIC HABITAT
CONSERVATION AREAS

Of the 542 taxa of terrestrial vertebrates listed by Millsap
et al. (1990) as occurring regularly in Florida, 44 were select-
ed for in-depth analyses (Table 1). Another 120 vertebrate
taxa were analyzed either as part of multi-species assemblages
or as part of a "gap" analysis described in Section 6.3. The 44
"focal species" were selected based on their utility as indica-
tors of natural communities or because they require suitable
habitat conditions covering large areas. Statewide habitat and
distribution maps were created for each of the 44 focal species
using data on known locations of occurrence, information on
the land cover and vegetation types used by each species, and
published or well documented information on the life-history
requirements of the species.
Of the 44 species analyzed as focal species, only 40 were
considered suitable candidates for an assessment of the current


level of security provided by existing conservation areas.
The four species whose security could not be assessed were
American oystercatcher, Florida burrowing owl, piping
plover, and Wilson's plover. Habitat distributions or popula-
tion requirements for these species could not be accurately
determined (although some general recommendations are
offered). The three shorebirds were included later in a sepa-
rate analysis of important coastal areas (Section 6.3.3).
For the 40 species whose security could be assessed,
security was estimated using the species' habitat and distribu-
tion maps, public land boundaries, and literature-based density
estimates. Focal species estimated as having fewer than 10
protected populations consisting of at least 200 individuals
were considered to lack an adequate base of habitat in the cur-
rent system of conservation areas in Florida. Of the 40 focal
species subjected to this analysis, 30 were found not to have
this minimum level of protection on public lands. The 30
species lacking adequate representation were subjected to
detailed analyses to identify new lands that must be conserved
to satisfy their long-term conservation requirements. The
individual maps of under-represented species were then
merged into a single statewide map showing those areas of
greatest concern (Figure 1).
Several other important aspects of biological diversity
were also added to the statewide map (Table 1). Conservation
areas were identified for rare communities (e.g., scrub, tropi-
cal hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands), rare plants, wading
birds, and bat caves. Areas important to the conservation of


Table 1. List of focal species and other components of biological diversity used to identify important habitat areas remaining in Florida.
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas were developed for the taxa shown in bold. Scientific names appear in Appendix 1.


FOCAL SPECIES

Amphibians and Reptiles

American crocodile
Bog frog
Florida scrub lizard
Gopher tortoise
Pine barrens treefrog
Salt marsh snake
Atlantic salt marsh snake
Gulf salt marsh snake

Birds

American oystercatcher
American swallow-tailed kite
Audubon's crested caracara
Black-whiskered vireo
Cuban snowy plover
Florida burrowing owl
Florida grasshopper sparrow
Florida sandhill crane
Florida scrub jay
Limpkin
Mangrove cuckoo
Mottled duck
Piping plover
Red-cockaded woodpecker


Seaside sparrows
Cape Sable seaside sparrow
Louisiana seaside sparrow
Smyrna seaside sparrow
Scott's seaside sparrow
Wakulla seaside sparrow
Short-tailed hawk
Snail kite
Southeastern American kestrel
Southern bald eagle
White-crowned pigeon
Wild turkey
Wilson's plover

Mammals

Beach mice
Anastasia Island beach mouse
Choctawhatchee beach mouse
Perdido Key beach mouse
Santa Rosa beach mouse
Southeastern beach mouse

Bobcat
Florida black bear
Florida panther
Fox squirrel
Big Cypress fox squirrel
Sherman's fox squirrel
Southeastern fox squirrel


OTHER COMPONENTS OF
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY

Analysis of 105 globally rare plant species
Bat maternity and winter roosting caves
Southeastern bat
Gray bat
Coastal communities
Gap analysis of 120 species
Pine rocklands
Prairie bird communities
Sandhill communities
Scrub communities
Tropical hardwood hammock communi-
ties
Wetlands important to wading birds
Great egret
Little blue heron
Reddish egret
Roseate spoonbill
Snowy egret
Tricolored heron
White ibis
Wood stork






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


these components of biological diversity are also shown as
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas in Figure 1.

SECTION 2.5. REGIONAL MAPS OF HOT SPOTS
OF BIODIVERSITY

The data sets incorporated into the GIS used in this pro-
ject provide valuable information on the distribution of natur-
al resources throughout Florida. Such information would be
of significant value to local land-use planning and in efforts
to expand upon the minimum conservation requirements out-
lined here. However, since many private and public entities
lack the computer equipment needed to process and store
geographic data sets in a meaningful manner, we created
regional maps showing three important features stored in the
GIS. First, the individual habitat maps created for 44 focal
species and rare natural communities were added together to
highlight areas within each region where potential habitat
conditions for many species occurred. Second, records
processed by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, the Florida
Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, and other sources
were displayed to provide information on the location of
other natural resources in each region. Third, boundaries of
public lands were displayed to show the relationship between
natural resources in each region and the distribution of exist-
ing public ownerships. Although these regional maps may
appear to be complex, they portray much of the information
stored in the GIS in a manageable fashion.

SECTION 2.6. USES OF PROJECT MAPS

Project maps are intended to help guide land acquisition,
land conservation, land-use planning, and regulatory programs
at many levels. The maps represent our best estimate of those
Florida lands that require some form of conservation to ensure
that biodiversity is maintained for future generations.
The reader should be aware that the maps represent only
a snapshot of Florida's conservation needs at one point in
time. The data on which the maps are based are already out-
dated, and they will become increasingly out of date as time
goes by. For example, the satellite imagery used for vegeta-
tion mapping and habitat modeling was collected between
1985 and 1989. Undoubtedly, some natural areas we identi-
fied as needing protection have been destroyed during the
time it has taken to collect and analyze the data and publish
the results.
The temporal nature of the maps has two effects. First,
because some areas identified as needing protection may no
longer support the habitat features or species expected to
occur there, these maps should not be incorporated into law or
rule as inviolate zones in which no development may occur.
Rather, the maps should be used as a layer of information in
the making of decisions concerning land acquisition, land-use
planning, and development regulation. Second, as time goes
by, new parcels of land come into public ownership, new data
become available on the locations of rare species, and the
character of the Florida landscape changes. As a result, pro-
ject maps are continually being updated with new information,
and the latest version of the maps actually resides in the com-
puter at the Office of Environmental Services. Therefore,
before using the maps in this report for detailed management
decisions, users should contact the Office of Environmental


Services at the address below for the latest information on
lands currently recommended for protection.

SECTION 2.7. AVAILABILITY OF PROJECT MAPS

In addition to the maps presented in this report, project
results are available as hard copy maps at a variety of scales
and in digital formats for use in computer mapping packages.
For more information on the availability of data sets, contact
the Office of Environmental Services, Florida Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission, 620 S. Meridian St.,
Tallahassee, FL, 32399-1600.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


MANGROVE SWAMP
BOTTOMLAND HARDWOOD
OPEN WATER
GRASS AND AG LANDS
SHRUB AND BRUSH
EXOTIC PLANT COMMS.
BARREN LAND


200 km


Figure 10 A landcover map of Flonda developed from Landst Thematr Mappr data.

Table 2. Cover types mapped for Flonda based on Landsat Thematic Mapper data collected from 1985-89.


COVER TYPE ACREAGE COVER TYPE ACREAGE


Natural Upland Communates Cypress Swamp 1,636,808
Hardwood Swamp 1,908.891
Coastal Strand 13,280 Bay Swamp 157,216
Dry Prame 1.385,952 Shrub Swamp 672,789
Plneland 6,542,570 Mangrove Swamp 546.416
Sand Pine Scrub 239,728 Bottomland Hardwood Forest 89,744
Sandhill 850.859
Xenc Oak Scrub 182,170 Disturbed Land Cover
Mixed Hardwood-Pine 549.672
Upland Hardwood Forest 2.302,249 Grass and Agnculture 6.266.804
Tropical Hardwood Hammock 15,253 Shrub and Brush 4,078,013
Barren and Urban 4,146,322
Natural Wetland Communitie Exotic Plant 40,266

Coastal Salt Marsh 485.320 Open Water 4,279,763
Freshwater Marsh 2,706,786






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SECTION 3. DEVELOPMENT OF GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM DATA SETS


SECTION 3.1. A STATEWIDE LAND-COVER MAP

This project relied on data and computer technology
capable of conducting fine-scale geographic analysis. One of
the primary geographic data sets utilized was an up-to-date
map of land cover (Kautz et al. 1993). The land-cover map
(Figure 10) was developed from Landsat satellite data col-
lected from 1985-1989. A brief description of techniques
used to construct this map is presented here; more detailed
information is found in Kautz et al. (1993).
Landsat satellite imagery was chosen because of the
large area to be covered and the speed with which satellite
imagery could be obtained and processed. Landsat Thematic
Mapper (TM) data are collected using a predefined grid work
of "pixels" (or picture elements). Each pixel is 30 m square.
These 0.09-ha (0.25-acre) cells represent the theoretical limits
of resolution of Landsat TM data, but the true limits of reso-
lution are somewhat larger.
A total of 22 land-cover types was processed for these
analyses. These cover types (Table 2) correspond to other
land-cover classifications developed for Florida (e.g., Davis
1967, Hartman 1978, Soil Conservation Service (undated),
Florida Natural Areas Inventory 1990) and allow for high lev-
els of accuracy. The cover types include 17 "natural" vegeta-
tion types, 1 class for water, and 4 additional classes that are
most often associated with "disturbed" areas. We use quota-
tion marks when referring to the "natural" and "disturbed"
cover types presented in Table 2. Some "natural" cover types
(e.g., commercial pine forests) may be heavily disturbed,
while some "disturbed" areas occur naturally (e.g., sand
beaches may be classified as barren land). More thorough
descriptions of each land-cover type appear in Appendix 2.
Landsat TM data were processed using ATLAS Remote
Imaging System (Version 1.13) software, developed by Delta
Data Systems, Inc. (131 Third St., Picayune, MS 39466).
The Florida Department of Transportation performed these
analyses under contract to the Florida Game and Fresh Water
Fish Commission. Raw satellite data were obtained from the
Florida Department of Natural Resources. Because of the
complexity of the analyses and the tremendous size of the
data sets, Landsat TM data were processed by multi-county
regions over a 3.5-year period. All or portions of 17 separate
Landsat scenes were used with dates ranging from 1985 for
the Florida Keys to 1989 for portions of the panhandle (Kautz
et al. 1993). Landsat imagery was georeferenced to the
Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system for use as a
data layer in the GIS.
Landsat imagery for each region was divided into small-
er subscenes, and an unsupervised classification routine was
performed for each subscene (Kautz et al. 1993). This classi-
fication was compared with aerial photography and ancillary
data from a variety of sources to produce a preliminary land-
cover map for each area. A total of 454 areas covering 1.10
million ha (2.72 million acres, or 8% of the land area of
Florida) was inspected using a helicopter equipped with a
Loran-C unit. Inaccuracies observed in these field inspec-
tions were corrected in the production of a final land-cover
map for each subscenc, and then each subscene was com-
pared with neighboring subscenes to correct errors occurring
across subscene boundaries.


Kautz et al. (1993) did not formally analyze the accuracy
of the land-cover map, but, based on field reports received
since the map was last edited, overall accuracy appears to be
around 80-90%. However, the accuracy varies by cover type.
Oak scrub land cover, for example, proved difficult to distin-
guish from the shrub and brush land cover, and sand pine
scrub was sometimes confused with pineland cover. The
accuracy of scrub identification was improved by digitizing
scrub sites surveyed by Christman (1988), and comments
from map users indicate that most inaccuracies that remain
are largely errors of omission (i.e., the scrub class contains
scrub, but not all patches of scrub were detected). Accurately
mapping sandhill cover also presented problems. Sandhill
sites with open stands of longleaf pine, minimal understory
vegetation, and dense ground cover were readily identified
with satellite imagery. Other areas that might be classified as
sandhill contained denser understories of oaks or densely
stocked pine plantations growing on sandhill sites. Many
such areas were classified as mixed pine-hardwood or
pineland land cover. Bay swamp was also difficult to distin-
guish from mixed hardwood swamp. We have not received
extensive comments concerning the accuracy of the sandhill
and bay swamp classes, but most errors are probably errors
of omission.
A tally of all cover types mapped (Table 2) shows that
vegetated uplands covered 4.89 million ha (12.1 million
acres, or 35%), wetlands covered 3.32 million ha (8.2 million
acres, or 24%), and "disturbed" cover types covered 5.88 mil-
lion ha (14.54 million acres, or 42%) of Florida around 1985-
1989. Pinelands were the most abundant upland vegetation
type, covering 2.65 million ha (6.54 million acres, or 19%)
and distributed primarily in the northern third of the peninsu-
la and throughout the panhandle (Figure 10). Freshwater
marsh and wet prairies were the most abundant wetland vege-
tation type, covering 1.10 million ha (2.72 million acres, or
8%) and occurring mostly in south Florida.

SECTION 3.2. A STATEWIDE MAP OF
CONSERVATION LANDS

Public lands capable of providing long-term protection
for rare species include national parks, forests, wildlife
refuges, and portions of military lands; state preserves,
reserves, parks, and forests; state-owned wildlife manage-
ment areas; water management district lands; county-owned
nature preserves; and certain private lands owned by groups
such as The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society,
Florida Audubon Society, and other conservation entities.
Our definition of "conservation lands" includes these various
public and private lands, but it does not include lands owned
by native Americans. While lands owned by native
Americans may contain important wildlife resources, there
are few legally binding agreements through which the impor-
tant resources might be protected.
At the time that these analyses were initiated, there was
no comprehensive set of conservation land boundaries avail-
able for Florida. We developed our map of conservation
lands using four major sources: Florida Atlas and Gazetteer
(DeLorme Mapping Company 1989), Florida Department of
Transportation county highway maps, county plat maps






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure I1. The distribution of current conservation areas in Florida.


(dated 1987-1990, Florida Plats, 1289 Bowan Blvd.,
Clermont, Florida), and boundaries processed by the Florida
Natural Areas Inventory. The DeLorme and Florida
Department of Transportation county highway maps depict
boundaries of many public lands at scales of 1:150,000 and
1:126,720, respectively. Plat maps depict property owner-
ships referenced to the township-range-section system used
for property descriptions. Plat maps were obtained for 54
Florida counties, and the boundaries of additional lands shown
to be in public ownership were transferred by hand to county
highway maps and then digitized. Boundaries obtained from
the Florida Natural Areas Inventory were digitized from
1:24,000 topographic maps.
Our map of conservation lands (Figure 11) includes 1,210
parcels ranging in size from about 1 ha (2.5 acres) to 453,490
ha (1,120,120 acres). Staying abreast of recent land purchases
and obtaining accurate boundary maps are daunting tasks that
preclude all conservation areas from appearing in the data set.
We estimate that the map of public land boundaries includes
> 98% of the area in conservation lands in Florida.


The mean size of the conservation areas is 5,835 ha
(16,217 acres), but the median size is only 170 ha (524 acres).
The size distribution of protected areas is shown in Figure 12.
The total area of conservation lands included in our map is
2.81 million ha (6.95 million acres), excluding large water
bodies, or roughly 20% of the land area of the state. The
largest conservation areas in Florida are owned and managed
by the federal government and include Everglades National
Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ocala National Forest,
Osceola National Forest, Apalachicola National Forest, Avon
Park Air Force Range, and Eglin Air Force Base. The largest
state-owned parcels are the Everglades Water Conservation
Areas, Blackwater State Forest, Withlacoochee State Forest,
Camp Blanding Military Reservation, Cecil Webb Wildlife
Management Area, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and J.
W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area. Table 3 shows the
distribution of acreage on conservation areas by several broad
groups of ownership. Federal lands cover nearly twice as
much area as state-owned lands, and the average size of feder-
al parcels is about 13-times as large as the average size of
state-owned parcels.


L

~i~ ~
r







CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


CONSERVATION ACREAGE


1.0

0.9-

0.8-

0.7-

0.6-

0.5-

0.4-

0.3-

0.2-

0.1-


100


10000


-30

-25

-20

-15

-10

-5


1000000


ACRES
Figure 12. Size distribution of current conservation areas in Florida. The right-hand column ("Count") provides the number of managed areas within each
size category. The left-hand column ("Proportion per Standard Unit") shows the proportion of classes falling in each bar divided by sample standard devia-
tion. This axis enables easier comparisons to other histograms based on different scales.




Table 3. Comparison of the areas of existing conservation lands by various ownership categories. The mean and median for each category
were calculated based on all areas presented in Figure 11.


PARCEL SIZE (ha)


MEAN


41,830
3,023
484


Federal
State
Private/local


MEDIAN


1,620
240
17


5,835 170


SUM


1,854,110
927,607
33,252

2,814,969


All Lands







FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Table 4. Percentages of existing conservation lands by individual Florida counties. Counties are arranged in ascending order.


COUNTY NAME


Desoto
Hardee
Hendry
Glades
Lafayette
Flagler
Gilchrist
Calhoun
Suwannee
St. Lucie
Nassau
Madison
Hamilton
Pinellas
Okeechobee
Jackson
Escambia
Seminole
Holmes
Hillsborough
Manatee
St. Johns
Gadsden
Martin
Washington
Union
Alachua
Bay
Jefferson
Polk
Gulf
Bradford
Putnam
Osceola


PERCENT
CONSERVATION LAND


0.1%
0.1%
0.2%
0.2%
0.5%
0.6%
0.6%
0.8%
1.2%
1.4%
1.4%
1.7%
1.8%
1.9%
2.6%
2.9%
3.3%
3.4%
3.5%
3.5%
3.7%
3.8%
3.8%
4.3%
4.6%
5.3%
5.4%
6.4%
7.6%
8.2%
8.4%
8.4%
8.6%
8.8%


COUNTY NAME


PERCENT
CONSERVATION LAND


Highland
Pasco
Volusia
Taylor
Orange
Sarasota
Levy
Dixie
Duval
Franklin
Lake
Columbia
Lee
Clay
Indian River
Citrus
Sumter
Hernando
Palm Beach
Charlotte
Walton
Santa Rosa
Brevard
Baker
Leon
Marion
Collier
Okaloosa
Dade
Liberty
Broward
Wakulla
Monroe


9.4%
10.4%
10.6%
10.9%
11.2%
11.6%
11.8%
12.3%
13.4%
14.9%
15.4%
16.6%
17.1%
18.4%
19.3%
19.9%
21.8%
21.9%
23.4%
23.6%
24.7%
26.8%
27.0%
28.1%
30.0%
30.5%
46.1%
48.7%
56.2%
59.0%
63.1%
65.5%
79.1%


The distribution of conservation areas among counties is
very uneven. Eight counties (DeSoto, Hardee, Hendry,
Glades, Lafayette, Flagler, Gilchrist, and Calhoun) have < 1%
of their total land area in some type of conservation area
(Table 4). About half of the counties in Florida have < 10%
of their total acreage in conservation areas, while the
statewide average is 15.2%. In sharp contrast, 5 counties
(Monroe, Wakulla, Broward, Liberty, and Dade) have > 50%
of their total area in conservation areas. The statewide median
for the proportion of conservation lands within individual
counties is 8.6%. Figure 13 shows Florida counties catego-
rized by the proportional acreage of conservation area that
they contain.
An overlay of conservation land boundaries on the
Landsat cover map produces an estimate of the area of various
plant communities currently protected in Florida (Table 5).
At present, conservation lands hold 46.2% of Florida's
remaining wetlands, but only 19.6% of Florida's remaining
"natural" upland plant communities. Only 4.2% of the
area on conservation lands falls into one of the "disturbed"
cover types.


Based on percentages, the best represented upland cover
type on conservation lands is sand pine scrub with about 75%
of its remaining acreage within conservation lands (primarily
on the Ocala National Forest). Of Florida's remaining xeric
communities, only 38.2% of the sandhill land cover and
41.3% of the xeric oak scrub land cover are in public owner-
ship. However, the quality of these protected xeric communi-
ties varies widely. Over half of the coastal strand and tropical
hardwood hammock mapped by Kautz et al. (1993) occurs on
conservation lands. Forests dominated by hardwoods (i.e., the
upland hardwood forest and mixed pine-hardwood classes)
appear to be among the least represented in comparison to
their acreage statewide (Table 5). In addition, only 16.6% of
the 561,113 ha (1,385,950 acres) of dry prairie remaining in
Florida is found in current conservation lands.
Among wetland cover types, mangrove swamps are the
best represented in current conservation areas (79% of
statewide total). Also well represented are freshwater marshes
(62.3%), coastal salt marshes (60.0%), and shrub swamps
(58.5%). The quality of many of these protected wetlands
varies widely (Bildstein et al. 1991). The least represented wet-
land types are forested wetlands such as mixed hardwood






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


COLOR LEGEND
< 10% OF AREA
10-20% OF AREA
_-3 OF AREA
0%OF AREA
OFAREA

2m a


Figure 13. onda counties categooried by the propornal acrage of cona aion area that they contain


S -. The map of land-cover map was developed
r r ,, ,


LAND COVER
TYPE

Upland Plant Communties
Pmelands
Upland Hardwood Forests
Dry Praine
Sandhill

Xeric Oak Scrub
Tropical Hardwood Hammock
Coastal Strand
Uplands Subtotal

Wetland Plant Communities
Freshwater Marsh
Mixed Hardwood Swamp
Cypress Swamp
Shrub Swamp
Mangrove Swamp
Coastal Salt Marsh
Bay Swamp
Bottomland Hardwood Forest
Wetlands Subtotal

Plant Community Subtotal

Disturbed Land Cover

Shrub & Brush Land
Exotic Plant Communities
Disturbed Land Subtotal

Natural and DisturbedSubtotal

Open Water

Totals


CONSERVATION
AREAS (ha)


440,220
178,960
93,145
150,650
26,482
72,792
30,460
3,088
2,699
998,496


701,783
168,477
198,140
159,345
193,602
117,892
14,894
17,549
1,533,564

2,493.941


53,281
77,219
112,269
2,021
244.790

2,814,969

471,294

3,286,263


TOTAL PERCENTIN
AREA (ha) CONSERVATION LANDS


2,648,814
932,085
561.114
344.477
222,539
97,056
73,753
6,175
5,377
4,891,390


1,095,865
772,830
662,675
272,384
221,221
196,486
63,650
36,334
3,321.445

8.212,835


2,537,160
1,678,673
1,651,017
16.302
5,883,160

14.074,845

1,732,697

15,807,542






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


acreage respectively, on conservation lands.
The relatively poor representation of
upland cover types on conservation lands in
comparison to wetland cover types stems
from many factors. Uplands certainly pro-
vide better areas for residential and agricul-
tural development and are thus the first
areas to be developed, but there has also
been an emphasis historically on wetland
protection through both land acquisition
and regulation.

SECTION 3.3. OTHER GEOGRAPHIC
DATA SETS

County boundaries used in all GIS
analyses were digitized from 1:24,000
scale U.S. Geological Survey 7.5-minute
quadrangle maps. A comparison of land-
cover types by county and conservation
areas within counties is provided in
Appendix 3. Various types of socioeco-
nomic information were also linked to
county boundary files using data from the
Florida Statistical Abstract (Shermyen et al.
1991). These data include estimated
population sizes, estimated number of
occupied homes, median income, etc.
(Shermyen et al. 1991).
A digital copy of the STATSGO gen-
eralized soils map (Figure 14) of Florida
(U.S. Department of Agriculture 1991) was
used to refine some of the land-cover class-
es and assist in estimating important habitat
areas. The pineland land-cover class, for
example, simply represents lands dominat-
ed by pines regardless of the species or soil
type present. When soils from the STATS-
GO map are combined with the pineland
cover type, the pineland cover type can be
reclassified into more specific categories
based on whether the underlying soil
conditions are relatively mesophytic or
xerophytic (Figure 15).
Vector files depicting federal, state,
and county roads maintained by the Florida
Department of Transportation were
obtained (Figure 16). The Florida
r .. ,., I1 .

maps. The road network files aid in the
identification of specific localities more
precisely, and we also used the road infor-
mation in our analyses of suitable habitat
-. r i i r -fie,

areas defined by roads based on their size.
Preventing future transportation projects
from further subdividing some of the larger
roadless areas shown in Figure 17 may be


Fip1rertita FeiynrerrfeieSTATSGOgareuirudroiis m, .1(U Seeieesiot Aneclturr 1991).


XERIC PINELANDS
MESIC PINELANDS


Figure 15. Pineland land cover reclassified based on xeric and mesic soil types.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


COUNTY ROADS
STATE ROADS
FEDERAL ROADS


Figure 16. Vctors depicting fedel, stae, and county rads matained by the loida Department of Transportaton


COLOR LEGEND
M s0 HA
501,000 HA
M1.00-5,000 HA
I> 5,000 HA

200 km


Figur 17 Polygons bounded by roads (Fgur 16) we reclas.sied bsed on he ad Mea hey contained






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 18 Prvate lad prcels larger than 130 ha (320 acre) were digirzed for all but 18 counties usg plat directors



important to the conservation and management of some of the
rare species analyzed here.
We created a map of privately owned parcels larger than
'1. 7-1990
r i 1r. ,_ The
boundaries of individual parcels were transferred onto


ld-neai the
.lo-rd eer .ratio te iiqes. r...


land-conservation techniques.







CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM 19



SECTION 4. DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION ON WILDLIFE SPECIES

SECTION 4.1. SELECTION OF SPECIES FOR ANALYSIS While the inclusion of additional taxa as "focal species"
would be desirable and future analyses are planned, it is
Forty-four vertebrate taxa (Table 6) were selected for our impossible to analyze all 542 terrestrial and wetland verte-
most detailed analyses. The term "focal species" is used to brate species found in Florida in a meaningful manner. In
describe this group. Soul6 and Simberloff (1986) and Noss fact, such a herculean task is largely unnecessary since many
(1991) discuss the importance of focussing on the autecology species are not declining or currently at risk of extinction. In
of rare species when developing conservation strategies, addition, if focal species are carefully selected, they may
However, a narrow focus on focal species will obviously umbrella the habitat needs of many other species.
overlook habitat needed by other species (Ryti 1992).

Table 6. List of focal species used in analyses and their status in Florida (E=endangered, T=threatened, SSC=species of special concern,
D=declining, G=game, F=furbearer). Scientific names appear in Appendix I.


WIDE- HABITAT
SPECIES RANGING STATUS INDICATOR


Amphibians and Reptiles
American crocodile
Bog frog
Florida scrub lizard
Gopher tortoise
Pine barrens treefrog
Atlantic salt marsh snake
Gulf salt marsh snake
Birds
American oystercatcher
American swallow-tailed kite
Audubon's crested caracara
Black-whiskered vireo
Cape Sable seaside sparrow
Cuban snowy plover
Florida burrowing owl
Florida grasshopper sparrow
Florida sandhill crane
Florida scrub jay
Limpkin
Louisiana seaside sparrow
Mangrove cuckoo
Mottled duck
Piping plover
Red-cockaded woodpecker
Scott's seaside sparrow
Short-tailed hawk
Snail kite
Smyrna seaside sparrow
Southeastern American kestrel
Southern bald eagle
White-crowned pigeon
Wakulla seaside sparrow
Wild turkey
Wilson's plover
Mammals
Anastasia Island beach mouse
Bobcat
Big Cypress fox squirrel
Choctawhatchee beach mouse
Florida panther
Florida black bear
Perdido Key beach mouse
Santa Rosa beach mouse
Sherman's fox squirrel
Southeastern fox squirrel
Southeastern beach mouse


Mangrove
Seepage bogs
Scrub
Sandhill, scrub
Seepage bogs
Coastal salt marsh
Coastal salt marsh


Forested wetlands

Mangrove and hammock
Coastal and freshwater marshes

Dry prairie
Dry prairie
Freshwater marsh
Oak scrub
Wetlands
Coastal marshes
Mangrove
Wetlands

Old growth pine
Coastal marshes
Forested wetlands
Freshwater marshes
Coastal marshes
Sandhill

Mangrove, tr. hammock
Coastal marshes



Coastal strand


Coastal strand


Coastal strand
Coastal strand
Sandhill and open pinelands
Sandhill and open pinelands
Coastal strand






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 19. Occunc records processed by the onda Natural Are Inventory


Several criteria were used to select focal species. A pri-
mary consideration was whether habitat requirements for the
species could be described using the land-cover map and other
geographic data sets. In many cases, the land-cover map is
simply too coarse to use for identifying lands that constitute
appropriate habitat for certain species. However, when com-
bined with information from field surveys, published occur-
rence records, and maps of soils, roads, and other geographic
features, the land-cover map provides a much better descrip-
tion of potential habitat.




Florida panther, Florida black bear, bobcat, and wild turkey.
Protection provided for these species could also benefit
other species with smaller home range sizes and similar
habitat requirements.
A third consideration was whether a species was closely
I I ', -
, S ., ,
rare communities. Focal species selected for this reason
included Florida scrub jay and scrub lizard (scrub communm-
. 1 I s h I
I I i 4 .I, I II -

grove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo (mangrove commu-
nities), snail kite, sandhill crane, Florida grasshopper sparrow,
and burrowing owl (prairies and freshwater marshes), and sea-
side sparrows and salt marsh snakes (coastal marshes).
A final group of birds was also included as focal species
because they are hsted as endangered or threatened in Florida
(Wood 1992), exhibited declining populations or special habi-


This group included southern bald eagle, short-tailed hawk,


Audubon's crested caracara, southeastern American kestrel,
Cuban snowy plover, Wilson's plover, American swallow-
tailed kite, and American oystercatcher. The relatively larger
proportion of birds chosen as focal species reflects a greater
knowledge of the distributions and habitat requirements of this
group. Birds are also useful in identifying habitat features
important to other species (Scott et al. 1993).

SECTION 4.2. DEVELOPMENT OF
DISTRIBUTION INFORMATION

Data documenting the known occurrences of focal species
came from several sources. The Florida Natural Areas
Inventory maintains a database of over 16,000 geographically
referenced points that document the occurrences of 387
species of plants, 467 species of animals, and 81 natural com-
munities. A copy of the Florida Natural Areas Inventory data-
base (Figure 19) was obtained in 1992 and last updated in
January 1993 The Florida Game and Freshwater Fish
Commission's Nongame Wildlife Program maintains a
species observation database that includes geographically ref-
erenced points documenting the occurrences of a variety of
wildlife species, including wading bird rookeries, southern
bald eagle nests, short-tailed hawk territories, crested caracara
territories, and shorebird nesting colonies. A copy of this
database (Figure 20) was obtained in January 1992. Various
researchers were also contacted for occurrence information on
selected species. Location data (in the form of georeferenced
pots) were obtained for snail kite (J. Rodgers), American
swallow-tailed kite (Meyer and Collopy 1990), grasshopper
sparrow (M Delany, R. DeLotelle), red-cockaded woodpecker
(J Beever, R. DeLotelle, K. Dryden, T. Engstrom, J. Garrison,
D. Jansen, C. Smith), Florida panther (D. Maehr), white-
crowned pigeon (T. Bancroft), Florida scrub jay (J. Beever,
K. Dryden), black bear (J. Wooding), and sandhill crane
(J Beever, K. Dryden, N. Dwyer).






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 20. Occurence records processed by the Fonda Gme ad Fresh Water Fsh Commission

The occurrence data described above are stored in a .I u .. I.i. ..1.: ,...i r...... r i i
"point" format whereby the records consist of latitude and ., . . I i--' -. -. .' i
longitude coordinates for known occurrence records. Point A Voronol tessellation of the Florida Natural Areas Inventory
data help to describe species' distributions and identify spe- data set is shown in Figure 21. Since polygons surrounding
cific areas of potential concern, but they provide little infor- points with distant neighboring points have a larger area, the
mation on the surrounding habitat features
important to the animals in question. Points
also do not describe slight changes in the
location of a feature over time (e.g., reloca-
tion of a nest within a larger territory).
To compensate for these deficiencies,
we generated circles of a given radius around
many of the point data sets. For example,
bald eagles forage within a 3-km or larger
area around nests (U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service 1987b). By extending a 3-km zone
around all eagle nest sites and then isolating
the open water and wetland areas found with-
in this zone, we identify the actual habitat
features that might be important to maintain-
ing bald eagles in an area.
Information on specific territory size and
foraging areas was not available for some of
the species considered here. Where informa-
tion was lacking, we used "small" and


records that might be important to the species
in question. A small radius was arbitrarily
set at 250 m (covers 20 ha or 48 acres), and a
large radius was arbitrarily set at 1 km (cov-
ers 314 ha or 775 acres). The use of either a
small or large radius is described in the


heated areas with concentrations of points.
Voronoi tessellation (TYDAC 1991) creates Fgure 21. Tessellation occurrence records Irocesd by the orinda Natur Areas Inventory.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


pie, shows the previous figure reclassified into 3
categories based on the size (or area) of the poly-
gons defined by the Voronoi tessellation. This
technique shows where concentrations of Florida
Natural Areas Inventory data points occur based on
a repeatable, quantitative technique.


er type of occurrence record. Atlas data reference
breeding locations for different birds to blocks that
cover one-sixth of a 7.5-minute quadrangle map,
an area of about 3,080 ha (7,600 acres). By isolat-
ing specific land-cover types within atlas blocks
where a species was recorded, we can refine our
maps showing potential habitat for the species.
Atlas data are used primarily for wide-ranging
species that might move over an area as large as an
atlas block, or for species that can be tied to specif-
ic land-cover types within atlas blocks. Figure 23,
for example, shows the boundaries of atlas blocks
in which American swallow-tailed kites nested in
f. ,i i- i li ,* i j ;

each block, we highlighted the mixed hardwood
swamp, cypress swamp, hardwood hammocks,
and other cover types commonly used by this
species for nesting and foraging (Meyer and
Collopy 1990). This technique provides a much
more accurate habitat distribution map than would
be possible using either the land-cover map or atlas
blocks alone.
P. Moler (unpubl.) transcribed museum records
(which often include location information) for
many species of amphibians and reptiles. This
database was obtained in January 1993. The town-
ship, section, and range information included in
this database was used to restrict habitat models for
many amphibians and reptiles to the 260 ha (640
acre) area defined by a section.
Focal species such as Florida panther and
I.. I',5 ., r. .... I .*

points and blocks. Potential habitat maps were
developed for these and other selected species
using habitat models within areas where the
species were known to occur. Data used to estab-


species. Habitat models generally involved identi-
fying broad regions where species occur, highlight-


tance (e.g., habitat patch sizes, proximity to known
population centers, and the density of roads and
urban areas).


COLOR LEGEND
E 200HA
< 2o00 HA

100 km


Fgure 22 Reclasficaton of the polygons crated in Figure 21 baed on ara.


Figure 23. Boundares of breeding bird atlas blks m which Amecan swallow-tailed
sites nested in Leon Wakula, and efferson cunies. The mixed hardwood swamp,
cypress swap, upland hardwd hamn k, and oer apprpnate lnd-cover types e
highlighted within each atlas bock






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SECTION 5. ASSESSING POPULATION VIABILITY


Minimizing the threat of extinction is the primary con-
cern in conservation planning and rare species management.
Although populations may go extinct for several reasons
(Soul6 and Simberloff 1986), environmental variability
(including catastrophic events) and inbreeding depression are
usually listed as the primary threats to vertebrate populations
(Shaffer 1987). Although most recent evaluations (Lande
and Barrowclough 1987, Lande 1988) conclude that environ-
mental variability poses the more immediate threat, the popu-
lar conservation literature tends to stress inbreeding prob-
lems. Thus, we believe that some discussion of inbreeding
and genetics is important in order to explain why we treat it
as a secondary problem. In addition, the fact that environ-
mental variability represents the primary threat to small pop-
ulations does not mean that genetical problems should be
totally ignored over the very long time periods envisioned for
most conservation goals. Genetic composition has an influ-
ence on the survival and productivity of individuals in a pop-
ulation (Ralls et al. 1979, O'Brien and Evermann 1988).

SECTION 5.1. ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABILITY

The variation in fecundity and survival that occurs over
time poses a significant threat to small populations. The
chance occurrence of several "bad" environmental years in
quick succession, or a catastrophic event such as a major
disease or storm, can drive even fairly large populations to
the point that they have little chance of recovery. Variation
in demographic parameters such as sex ratios and age
distributions may also affect the persistence of extremely
small populations.
We used computer simulations (Shaffer 1987) to evalu-
ate the influence of environmental variability on population
persistence in 11 focal species. A computer model
(Appendix 4) was constructed that followed females over
time and simulated year-to-year changes in fecundity and sur-
vival over a 200-year period. The specific values of survival
and fecundity experienced by individuals in a population in a
given year were drawn at random from a pseudo-normal
distribution. The simulations also included an infrequent
"catastrophic" year where survival and/or reproduction were
markedly lowered for all individuals in the population.
Catastrophic events appeared with a frequency of 15-25 years
(depending on the species in question) and were determined
by drawing from a uniform distribution. The specific values
used, and whether a catastrophe influenced survival,
fecundity, or both, varied among species (Appendix 4).
Population sizes ranging from 10-350 individuals were
used to initiate simulations, and 200 trials were conducted for
each set of unique conditions (Harris et al. 1987). The distri-
bution of extinction times resulting from this model was
approximately log-normal, which precludes an informative
use of means and standard deviations. We therefore report
population viability as the proportion of the 200 trials where
the population persisted for at least 200 years (Goodman
1987a). A population was considered effectively "extinct"
when only 1 female remained.
Sufficient demographic data were found for 11 species
(Appendix 4) for use in our generalized population model.
Since there was variation in many of the population parame-


ters obtained from literature searches, we used a range of
"unfavorable," "moderate," and "favorable" parameters to
assess how such variation affected estimates of population
persistence. "Unfavorable" parameters approached the lower
range of estimated values for survival and fecundity found in
literature searches, while "favorable" parameters approached
the higher levels of fecundity and survival. "Moderate"
parameters fell somewhere in between. Appendix 4
contains the range of values used for these abbreviated
sensitivity analyses.
Figures 24a-k show the relationships between initial total
population size (converted to include males) and the pseudo
probability of extinction. For example, model populations of
red-cockaded woodpeckers (Figure 24a) appear to have very
good chances of persisting for 200 years under favorable
conditions given an initial population size of roughly 200
individuals. Even at lower levels of fecundity and survival
(the "unfavorable" model), model populations with about
200 individuals have > 75% chances of persisting for 200
years. Species with relatively high minimum thresholds for
persistence are fox squirrel, Cuban snowy plover, red-cock-
aded woodpecker, and gopher tortoise. Under favorable
environmental conditions, these species require populations
of about 200-300 to provide good chances of long-term
survival. Florida panther, black bear, bobcat, wild turkey,
southern bald eagle, and sandhill crane, on the other hand,
appear to have lower minimum thresholds. Smaller popula-
tions (e.g, 100-150) of these species facing favorable envi-
ronmental conditions appear to have good chances of long-
term survival.
The general relationship between population size and
population persistence (Figures 24a-k) is nonlinear, which
indicates that substantial increases in population size may
produce only slight increases in estimated persistence times.
A model population of 200 red-cockaded woodpeckers
appears to have almost as good a chance of surviving as a
population of 300 red-cockaded woodpeckers under moderate
conditions. This result, which is characteristic of other mod-
els (e.g., Goodman 1987a, 1987b, Shaffer 1987), stems from
the roles that catastrophes and environmental calamities play
in determining population persistence. The impacts of cata-
strophic events will of course depend on the autecology of
the species in question and the nature of the catastrophe.
When Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina coast in
1989, it destroyed habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers
across a large area, but the storm probably had less of an
impact on bobcat habitat in the same area. The effects of epi-
demics may also vary depending on whether the species is
spatially clustered (e.g., Florida scrub jay) or spatially dis-
persed (e.g., Florida black bear). Shaffer (1987) and Beier
(1993) provide additional discussions on how catastrophic
and environmental perturbations vary among species.
As indicated in Figures 24a-k, population models are
very sensitive to the specific population parameters used. If
one were to define a viable population of fox squirrels
(Figure 24g) as a population having > 90% chances of surviv-
ing for 200 years, then the requisite number of individuals
needed to satisfy this condition ranges from 200-400+
depending on the demographic values used. This result
provides a very strong indication of the importance of






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model 1 =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


Figure 24a.


RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER


SeMO

@


o





80 160


240


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
- MODEL
320


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE



FLORIDA SANDHILL CRANE




@ @ 0


@ 0


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
I 6 I 0 MODELS
0 30 60 90 120


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE


Figure 24b.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model 1 =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


Figure 24c.


FLORIDA SCRUB JAY


S
S
0


0


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
I MODEL


0 50


Figure 24d.


200


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE



BALD EAGLE


a
a
-i


A---a


MODEL
MODEL
MODEL
MODEL4


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE


41 0






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model 1 =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


Figure 24e.


WILD TURKEY


@ 0


OS


@ MODEL
MODEL
J MODELS


50 100


200


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE




SNOWY PLOVER


80



0O~
S



0


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
J MODELS


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE


Figure 24f.


I






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model 1 =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


FOX SQUIRREL


0


@ 0


Figure 24g.



1.0


0 80 160


240


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
1 MODELS
320


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE



BLACK BEAR


0~~


40 80 120 1


@ MODEL
@ MODEL
I MODELS


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE


Figure 24h.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model I =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


Figure 24i.


BOBCAT


0


0~.


0 80 160


* MODEL
MODEL
* MODEL


240


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE




FLORIDA PANTHER


S@MODEL1
*



*







@ MODEL
@ MODEL
S 0 40 60 MODEL 00
0 20 40 60 80 100


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE


Figure 24j.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 24 (a-k). Relationship between initial population size and the chances of persisting for 200 years for model populations of 11 focal species (Model I =
favorable environmental conditions; Model 2 = moderate environmental conditions; Model 3 = unfavorable environmental conditions).


Figure 24k.


GOPHER TORTOISE



@

0
0@
@

@

@ @


@ 0
g o o,


0 70 140


210


MODEL
@ MODEL
I MODEL
280


appropriate population and habitat management in preserving
rare species. Populations of 200 or 400 fox squirrels facing
poor management conditions (i.e., lowered survival and
fecundity) have about equal likelihood of becoming extinct.
The population of 400 requires a much larger patch of habi-
tat, but protection of even a very large patch does not guar-
antee greater security. On the other hand, a population of
200 fox squirrels placed under favorable management condi-
tions (i.e., higher survival and fecundity) has a much better
chance of persistence and requires roughly half the habitat
base needed to support a population of 400 under unfavorable
conditions. In simple terms, there is no guarantee that con-
servation efforts emphasizing the protection of very large
populations and habitat areas will be effective if populations
are not provided with appropriate management after habitat
areas are protected. An investment in population and habitat
management thus may sometimes outweigh an investment in
protecting additional land.

SECTION 5.2. INBREEDING AND INBREEDING
DEPRESSION

The term inbreeding has developed a bad connotation in
the popular conservation literature in recent years.
Inbreeding occurs in all populations, and low levels of
inbreeding are actually correlated with higher productivity in
at least one population of birds (van Noordwijk and Scharloo
1981). The concern in wildlife conservation and manage-
ment is thus not whether inbreeding occurs, but whether it
reaches such levels that it significantly lowers survival and
reproduction, which, in turn, could reduce the chances of


population survival. The term inbreeding depression is used
to distinguish between inbreeding and the deleterious effects
that might arise from high levels of inbreeding.
Unfortunately, the level of inbreeding required to induce
inbreeding depression varies tremendously among species
(Ballou and Rails 1982), and the data needed to estimate such
effects accurately may take several decades to collect
(Koenig 1988). Indeed, some species appear to tolerate fairly
high levels of inbreeding very well (Walter 1990).
The genetic size of all vertebrate populations (i.e., the
diversity of alleles in the population) is very different from
the censused size of populations (i.e., the number of individu-
als that can be counted). For example, since juveniles in
many long-lived species do not breed, simply counting all the
individuals that make up a population does not provide a
good estimate for the size of the breeding population that
actually contributes genes to the next cohort of young. As a
result of the social structure of populations and dispersal
characteristics, the size of genetic populations may also be
spatially restricted to a degree that may seem surprising. For
example, the white-footed mouse occurs in a variety of habi-
tat types and is common throughout much of North America,
but the size of genetic subpopulations is estimated at 80-110
individuals occupying only a few score acres (Howard 1949).
The size of genetic subpopulations of Florida scrub jays may
be only 20-40 individuals (J. Fitzpatrick, pers. comm.).
Calculations of effective population size and effective
neighborhood size (Wright 1969, Crow and Kimura 1970) are
needed to translate estimates of censused population size into
estimates of the genetical population size and extent. Such
calculations adjust for the variation in age, survival, and


0.8


0.6


0.4


0.2


- -


INITIAL POPULATION SIZE






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


0.0 I I I I
10 80 150 220 290 360 430 500


EFFECTIVE POPULATION SIZE

Figure 25. Relationship between the level of inbreeding and effective population size for three lengths of time (as measured by the number of generations).
The upper line is the inbreeding statistic over 50 generations; the middle line is the inbreeding statistic over 100 generations; and the bottom line is the
inbreeding statistic over 200 generations. Different generation lengths are shown because the level of inbreeding is influenced by both the size of a population
and the time period of concern.


fecundity of individuals that make up a population, as well as
the fact that the distance between the site of birth and the
site(s) of reproduction is always limited.
As a result of the various population characteristics incor-
porated into estimates of effective population and effective
neighborhood sizes, the rate at which inbreeding decreases in
relation to effective population size is nonlinear and flattens
out sharply approaching larger effective population sizes
(Figure 25). For example, if a protected population has an
effective population size of 150, it may take a doubling of the
population size to reduce the rate of inbreeding by only 10%.
The importance of slight changes in the rate of inbreeding to
the survival of populations is poorly known (Ralls et al.
1979, Ralls et al. 1988), and simply enlarging populations to
guard against inbreeding may not actually alter the level of
inbreeding appreciably.
Franklin (1980) recommended that an effective popula-
tion size of 50 individuals would have acceptably low levels
of inbreeding over the course of many generations. This esti-
mate was based on the observations of stock breeders, but it is
only a ballpark figure that should not be strictly applied
(Lande and Barrowclough 1987). It is difficult to estimate
effective population sizes in wild populations accurately in the
absence of long-term studies (Futuyma 1979, Koenig 1988),
and even when long-term data exist the specific techniques
used to estimate effective population sizes may produce very
different results. The proposition that conservation efforts
should focus on protecting effective populations of about 50
individuals has been widely used (Cox et al. 1987, Reed et al.
1988, Hellgren and Vaughn 1989), but it would be wrong to
suggest that effective populations smaller than 50 individuals
are doomed to extinction.


Recommendations for protecting effective population
sizes much larger than 50 have also been proposed (Franklin
1980, Lande and Barrowclough 1987), but there are additional
problems associated with these recommendations (Lande and
Barrowclough 1987, Simberloff 1988). Lande and
Barrowclough (1987) conclude that effective population sizes
totalling "several hundred" should be the goal of conservation
efforts, but they also conclude that this large population can
be effectively managed on a system of multiple preserves.
The general effect of maintaining populations on multiple pre-
serves is to increase the genetic variation across all popula-
tions at the possible expense of lowered genetic variation
within subpopulations (Lande and Barrowclough 1987,
Leberg 1991).
We conclude that effective population sizes in the range
of 50 individuals are sufficiently large to withstand genetic
deterioration for extended periods and represent a reasonable
goal for conservation of a single population. Populations of
this general size satisfy many of the minimum sizes proposed
to offset the potentially deleterious effects of inbreeding
depression (Franklin 1980, Lande and Barrowclough 1987),
and if several preserves containing effective population sizes
of around 50 are established, as discussed below, the level of
genetic diversity preserved throughout all populations
becomes extremely high (Chesser 1981, Chesser and Ryman
1986, Lacy 1987, Lande and Barrowclough 1987).
However, due to the over-riding importance of environ-
mental variability in determining population persistence, any
genetics-based recommendations should serve only as a very
general guideline and must not be blindly followed.
Populations with effective population sizes smaller than 50
often play a very crucial role in safe-guarding against certain






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Table 7. Demographic parameters and effective population size estimations for selected species. Survival and reproduction ranges were determined from lit-
erature searches (see Appendix 5). Variation in estimated parameters were used to assess the sensitivity of the estimates to imprecise demographic data.
Approximate generation length estimates (in years) are also provided. The equivalent population size represents the number of breeding individuals needed to
establish an effective population size of approximately 50.



ANNUAL ANNUAL GENERATION EQUIVALENT
SPECIES SURVIVAL FECUNDITY LENGTH(yr) POPULATION SIZE



Black Bear 0.87+ 0.9 10+ 75-130
Fox Squirrel 0.73+ 2.3 3 105-150
Sandhill Crane 0.90+ 0.5 8 100-135
Bobcat 0.68+ 2.3+ 4 160-190
Gopher Tortoise* 0.90+ 6.0+ 20 90+
Red-cockaded Woodpecker* 0.75+ 0.9+ 4-5 110+
Scrub Jay* 0.80+ 2.0+ 7-8 110+
Cuban snowy plover 0.73+ 1.5+ 3-4 130-170
Florida Panther* 0.86+ 1.5+ 3-4 100-150
Bald Eagle 0.90+ 0.8+ 3-4 100-150


* Estimations based on data published in Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick (1984), Cox et al. (1987), Reed et al. (1988), and Seal et al. (1989).


environmental threats. In addition, populations with effective
populations smaller than 50 will persist for long periods of
time (Walter 1990), and management activities can offset the
loss of genetic variation that might occur in extremely small
populations (Chesser 1981, Chesser and Ryman 1986, Lande
and Barrowclough 1987, Leberg 1991).
Estimates for breeding population sizes that correspond
to effective population sizes of 50 are presented in Table 7
for several species considered here. These estimates are
based on the technique described in Reed et al. (1988) and
demographic data presented in Appendix 4. The estimated
effective population sizes range from 20-45% of the censused
population sizes (Table 7) and are within the range of values
presented for other vertebrate species (Ralls et al. 1988,
Harris and Allendorf 1989). For other vertebrates not ana-
lyzed here, an effective population size of 50 translates into a
censused population of about 100-250 individuals (Ballou
et al. 1989).

SECTION 5.3. GUIDELINES FOR ESTABLISHING
MINIMUM LEVELS OF SECURITY

As might be expected, the foregoing analyses of popula-
tion viability point to some uncertainties and inconclusive
results. There are simply no equations or models that can
generate a convenient number that guarantees the continued
existence of wildlife populations. Indeed, rarely are there
sufficient data to drive the few crude models that exist, much
less more elaborate models that take into account even more
complex features of natural populations. Thus, to declare
certain populations "viable" and other populations "nonvi-
able" could be a serious mistake.
Our evaluations of the threats of extinction lead us to
propose some general guidelines for evaluating the relative
security of certain rare species. For many of the species ana-


lyzed here, we propose three very broad categories of viabili-
ty for individual populations:

Imperiled Population: census population size estimated to
be smaller than 100. Single populations of this size face a
risk of extinction even under favorable management con-
ditions. Populations of this size also may lose a signifi-
cant portion of their genetic variability over the course of
several generations.

Insecure Population: census population size estimated to
be 100-200. Single populations of this size may be sus-
ceptible to annual environmental perturbations over an
extended period and may lose a portion of their genetic
variability over many generations. The prosperity of pop-
ulations of this size will rely heavily on appropriate man-
agement regimes.

Potentially Secure Population: census population size
estimated to be larger than 200. If habitat and population
management are appropriate, the security of populations
of this size will likely depend on the frequency and nature
of catastrophic events rather than other environmental and
genetical threats.

We will use these guidelines (in part) in Section 6 to esti-
mate the level of protection offered to different species by the
current system of conservation areas in Florida. We also rec-
ognize the fundamental importance of establishing multiple
copies of protected populations to prevent "bad" environmen-
tal conditions or infrequent catastrophic events from affecting
all protected populations simultaneously. The establishment
of multiple populations might also preserve a large portion of
the genetic variation that occurs across a broad landscape.
Several articles discuss the importance of establishing multi-






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


pie populations (Soul6 and Simberloff 1986, Goodman 1987b,
Shaffer 1987, Lande and Barrowclough 1987, Harrison and
Quinn 1989), but in simple terms multiplicity is analogous to
placing your eggs in several different baskets.
To satisfy requirements for multiplicity, we propose that
the presence of 10 potentially secure populations also be used
to evaluate the relative security of populations of rare species.
Even if the chances of persistence for a single population are
around 30% rather than 80%, the establishment of 10 indepen-
dent populations could provide a > 90% chance of at least one
(Figure 26) of the populations persisting (Quinn and Hastings
1987). The conservation of 10 potentially secure populations
will also satisfy the recommendations developed by Lande
and Barrowclough (1987) of protecting effective populations
sizes totalling in the hundreds. This protective strategy will
conserve > 95% of the extant genetic variation across all pop-
ulations over the course of scores of generations (Ballou et al.
1989). This protective strategy may also enable a portion of
the genetic variation to be maintained within individual popu-
lations (e.g., Manlove et al. 1979, Chesser et al. 1982,
Osterhoff et al. 1983). The presence of 10 populations of 200
individuals represents a sound conservation strategy where a
minimum goal of protecting a viable collection of wild popu-
lations is sought within an increasingly humanized landscape.
These general guidelines must not be applied blindly to
all species. For example, the interaction of large numbers of
individuals at many different breeding sites may be an impor-
tant feature of the population biology of species such as wad-
ing birds (Bildstein et al. 1991), and such features preclude
the use of the proposed guideline. However, we believe the
guideline represents a legitimate goal for several species,


100 r


especially since it seems unlikely that more accurate estimates
of acceptable security will be developed by the next genera-
tion of research, except perhaps on a species-by-species basis.
On the other hand, there are definite consequences in delaying
conservation efforts until new procedures or better estimates
become available. As human populations continue to grow,
many of the larger blocks of habitat remaining in Florida will
likely be eliminated within the next few years.
Proper habitat and population management is critical to
guaranteeing that this or any other type of conservation strate-
gy will work. Beneficial management techniques increase
average survival and fecundity within populations, and even
slight increases in survival and fecundity will greatly enhance
the chances that populations persist over time. The fate of all
protected populations ultimately rests on how well they are
managed, and an investment in the management of protected
populations may sometimes outweigh an investment in the
conservation of additional habitat.
The general guidelines may also be modified in certain
cases based on more precise estimates of population viability
or the amount of habitat available, or that can be restored, out-
side of existing conservation areas. Populations smaller than
the minimum standards set forth here are certainly "viable"
over extremely long periods of time (Walter 1990). However,
their viability will require much more careful monitoring,
greater habitat and population management, and, ultimately,
more luck than if the manageable populations were larger and
more numerous. The minimum desired goal of 10 populations
of at least 200 reflects a careful weighing of the information
available on population viability and the various costs and
constraints facing all conservation efforts.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


NUMBER OF POPULATIONS
Figure 26. Relationship between the number of managed populations and population persistence. Several different values for estimated chances of persistence
are shown. For example, the lowest curve represents the situation where each population has a 15% chance of survival. Two such populations would have
about a 28% chance of at least one population surviving, and 10 populations would have > 80% chance of at least one population surviving. The starting point
on the Y axis indicates the estimated chance of survival for a single population (eg., 15%, 20%, 25%, and 30%).






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SECTION 6. IDENTIFICATION OF GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
SYSTEMS
General guidelines for population sizes and numbers developed in this section focus on the autecology of ea
needed to provide security against extinction (Section 5) species and on attaining acceptable levels of security u
allow us to evaluate the effectiveness of current conservation the habitat available. Foremost in our considerations ii
areas in providing adequate protection for Florida's many developing minimum habitat conservation recommend
rare species. Of interest, based on our stated targets, is was the need to maintain existing populations and the
whether a minimum of 10 conservation areas exists with ecological processes most important to these population
sufficient habitat to support potentially secure populations of Protecting every individual within a population may nc
200 or more individuals. We use this evaluation as a filter to primary concern (except in the case of extremely rare
help determine which species are in the greatest need of species), nor is it critically important at this stage to co
additional habitat conservation measures. As stated in habitat areas well outside the region where core popular
Section 2.1, one of our primary assumptions is that habitat functions are played out.
conservation efforts should focus on those species that are Our approach of designing conservation plans that
least adequately protected by the current system of conserva- the protection of core populations at the expense of soi
tion areas. Also important is the distribution of protected individuals can perhaps be demonstrated by an extreme
populations across the known range of the taxon in question example. When a green-tailed towhee showed up in F
and locations of patches of potential habitat outside of current in 1989 (Florida Ornithological Society 1992), the eve
conservation areas. not lead to a call to establish a new conservation area f
No comprehensive surveys exist for most species of very rare bird (from a Florida perspective). Nobody pi
wildlife on conservation areas throughout the state, much posed a network of corridors or stepping-stone preserve
less on private lands. In fact, species such as Florida black that other green-tailed towhees could find their way to
bear and Florida panther can be very difficult to census over Florida in the future. The circumstances that led to the
very large areas. Thus, we are forced to estimate population arrival of this individual in Florida constituted an extre
sizes in current conservation areas indirectly using two pieces "outlier." Attempts to separate unusual dispersal even
of information: (1) an estimate of the amount of habitat occurrence records from those events that are more ess
available within conservation areas, and (2) an estimate of the to population persistence may be difficult because the
density of individuals in relation to appropriate habitat condi- ical literature often highlights the unusual (Endler 197:
tions. Samson et al. (1985) proposed the term "habitat However, we attempt to stress the processes most imp
capacity" be used to describe this type of estimate since it to core population dynamics throughout this section by
makes assumptions about densities of species in relation to sidering the dispersal capabilities of individual species
potential habitat maps. Although there are some drawbacks concentrations of occurrence records and potential hab
to this approach (Samson et al. 1985, Vemer et al. 1986), One of the most important reasons for focussing o
such an analysis is needed to help determine how to allocate population areas is the potential monetary cost behind
the limited monetary resources available for land conserva- conservation efforts. As Harris (1985) notes, we can n
tion in Florida. buy and protect everything. Land-acquisition spending1
When estimating population sizes based on indirect mea- Florida may amount to $3.2 billion over the next decac
sures, it is important to rely on known occurrences rather than Based on the average cost of around $2,919 per ha (2.4
completely unreferenced estimations of suitable habitat acres) expended by the Conservation and Recreation L
(Verner et al. 1986). Point and polygonal data documenting Program prior to 1992 (Anon. 1992), we might expect
known occurrences were used in conjunction with habitat land-acquisition efforts to secure an additional 1,096,2
models to estimate the distribution of available habitat. The (2.7 million acres). While this may seem like a signifi
use of documented occurrence information restricted the area amount of land, it will increase the acreage of conserve
over which models were applied but greatly improved their lands in Florida by only about 28%, taking the statewi
accuracy. The specific combinations of data sets and GIS from about 2.8 million ha (7.0 million acres) to 4.0 mil
operations are discussed separately for each species. (10.0 million acres). If we are to conserve and manage


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SECTION 6.1. THEORY PERTINENT TO THE
IDENTIFICATION AND DESIGN OF
CONSERVATION AREAS

When the potential habitat within existing conservation
areas fell short of the amount needed to support 10 popula-
tions of roughly 200 individuals, conservation plans were
developed to increase the habitat that effectively could be
managed for the species in question. Development of such
plans leads to an area of conservation biology with conflict-
ing opinions. Is it best to establish a single large or several
small preserves? When and where will corridors be needed
to help facilitate population interchange? We outline our
planning philosophy below. The habitat conservation plans


4,000+ species on a habitat base of about 4.0 million ha, land
conservation efforts must efficiently, as well as meaningfully,
enhance the chances of population persistence.
Some researchers focus conservation efforts towards
species rich areas (Scott et al. 1993), and a criticism that
might be leveled at the focal species habitat conservation
plans developed below is that the plans may not adequately
treat communities, ecosystems, or higher-level aggregates of
species (Noss 1991, Ryti 1992). We attempt to address this
criticism in three ways. First, most of the species selected for
analysis have large home range requirements. Habitat protec-
tion strategies developed for these species may umbrella the
habitat requirements of other species with narrow habitat
requirements and smaller home range sizes (Eisenberg 1980,
East 1981; but see Gilbert 1980, Ryti 1991). Second, a num-






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


ber of protective options is presented for each focal species
lacking adequate habitat in current conservation areas. We
then stress habitat conservation options that benefit other
species or features. That is, habitat conservation strategies
proposed for each species are developed in relation to other
species and information in our database, and, as shown in var-
ious tables presented in the discussions of individual focal
species, the habitat conservation plans developed here may
provide benefits to a much larger group of species. Third, in
Section 6.3 we discuss and incorporate information developed
for several rare community types (e.g., tropical hardwood
hammocks, sandhill, pine rocklands, coastal areas, and xeric
oak scrub), rare plant species, and higher-level assemblages of
rare wildlife species.
We also point out that conservation strategies based on
ecosystems, communities, and species richness (e.g., Scott et
al. 1993) are not without their own sets of serious problems
(Simberloff and Abele 1976, Graves and Gotelli 1983,
Zimmerman and Bierregaard 1986). For example, a widely
distributed archipelago of 50 patches of sandhill habitat, each
about 100 acres in size, might effectively protect 95% of the
species that make up this community. However, this preserve
strategy will not adequately protect viable populations of
species such as indigo snake, red-cockaded woodpecker, or
fox squirrel since individual conservation areas for these
species must be a minimum of several thousand acres before
they will be very effective over long periods of time.
Wildlife corridors, preserves arranged as stepping stones,
and other strategies that emphasize the geographical place-
ment of conservation areas have become increasingly popular
tools in efforts to combat habitat fragmentation (Harris 1984,
Harris 1985, Noss and Harris 1986). Assessing the effective-
ness of such geographical arrangements is more complex than
sometimes realized (Simberloff and Cox 1987, Soul6 and
Gilpin 1991, Simberloff et al. 1992), and the benefits provided
by corridors or stepping stone preserves, independent of habi-
tat, may also be provided by large preserves (Soul6 and Gilpin
1991, Simberloff et al. 1992). Soul6 and Gilpin (1991) ana-
lyzed corridor capability and suggested that "corridors,
regardless of how effective they may be, can never replace
large reserves for the protection of ecosystems and species."
A few examples provide some indication of the compli-
cated assessments that corridor placement may entail.
Corridors of appropriate habitat have been shown to be impor-
tant in several instances. Maehr (1990) described the use of a
corridor by Florida panthers in southwest Florida, while Beier
(1993) described the importance of panther corridors in south-
ern California in allowing immigration to occur into an area
supporting a small population. J. Wooding (pers. comm.)
described movement of black bears through a potential corri-
dor in northeast Florida. A large block of black bear habitat in
Volusia, St. Johns, and Flagler counties lies in close proximity
to the large block of black bear habitat found on the Ocala
National Forest. In 1989, two black bears were recorded mov-
ing between these two large blocks of habitat using an area
near Crescent Lake.
In other cases, the value of corridors has not been firmly
established. Thomas et al. (1990) found that dispersing spot-
ted owls did not frequently use the corridors left behind after
logging. More importantly, forest corridors were surrounded
by large open spaces, which provided suitable habitat condi-
tions for great horned owls, a predator of spotted owls.


Mortality among dispersing spotted owls was very high in
areas where thin corridors were provided. The fact that corri-
dors may enhance populations of certain predators and pro-
duce high rates of mortality has been noted in several studies
(Soul6 and Gilpin 1991, Simberloff et al. 1992).
Noon (1992) tested corridor use by small vertebrates and
found that < 30% of the individuals used the corridors under
study. The remaining individuals dispersed into the hostile
surrounding habitats and died. This raises a question: if cor-
ridors provided safe conduit for only 30% of the dispersing
individuals, is there another conservation strategy that might
protect 50% of the dispersing individuals and be of potentially
higher value? The conservation of large blocks of habitat sur-
rounding an area may in some cases provide better protection
for whole populations.
We take steps to maximize the benefits from geographical
placement of proposed conservation areas and minimize the
potential drawbacks. First, we stipulate that conservation
areas designed to foster movement must lie within frequently
reported dispersal distances for the species in question. We
compiled information on dispersal distances from published
reports, and we selected the minimum distances that would
encompass approximately 70% of the published dispersal dis-
tances for each species. For example, the observation of a sin-
gle juvenile black bear moving 120 km (Maehr et al. 1988)
does not mean that a 120-km habitat corridor will permit bears
to move frequently between patches of habitat. Fewer than
5% of the reported dispersal events for black bears are > 100
km, and most (ca. 70%) are < 60 km (Alt 1979, Rogers 1987,
Maehr et al. 1988, Wooding and Hardisky 1988).
Furthermore, the distances across which a black bear dispers-
es, establishes a territory, and successfully reproduces is cer-
tainly much smaller than the distance over which all black
bears simply disperse. Dispersal events are often random in
direction; individuals dispersing long distances often have
lower rates of survival than individuals dispersing shorter dis-
tances; and reproduction for dispersing individuals may be
lower (Endler 1972).
Second, we also considered the size of the populations
when evaluating the potential benefits of the geographical
placement of conservation areas. Connecting a larger popula-
tion to a much smaller population would help to sustain the
smaller population (Beier 1993), and connecting two small
populations might provide each with higher chances of sur-
vival than either population has if isolated (Goodman 1983).
However, the benefits of connecting two very small or two
very large populations are less clear. In cases where two very
small populations are connected by virtue of a corridor or
some stepping-stone arrangement of conservation areas, no
amount of interchange can totally alleviate the potential prob-
lem of inbreeding depression (Chesser 1981). A single large
population of 40 will have a slightly lower level of inbreeding
than two populations of 20 individuals, but the importance of
this lower level of inbreeding may not be significant over
many generations. With respect to connecting two large
populations, Soul6 and Gilpin (1991) note that it may be
unnecessary to consider the capabilities of corridors to facili-
tate movement when the corridor will link two presumably
viable populations.
Third, we consider carefully whether a focal species is
likely to use conservation areas designed to foster movement
based on literature information, where available. Black bears






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


appear to rely on forested wetlands as they disperse
(Weaver et al. 1990), but they may also move without refer-
ence to land-cover features once outside of familiar territory
(Maehr et al. 1988). Black bears likely require broader
habitat areas rather than thin corridors if connecting distant
populations is a goal. Florida panthers may use forested
habitats that are about 10 km long and only 1 km wide as
movement corridors (Maehr 1990). On the other hand,
many birds, insects, and mammals may be able to traverse
broad areas without corridors or appropriate habitat in the
interstitial area.
Finally, we required that corridors, stepping stones,
and other types of linkages do more than simply foster
movement. Areas that constitute valuable habitat and also
facilitate movement among conservation areas represent
better investments than those protected simply to help
animals move.
Several researchers (Simberloff and Abele 1976, Gilpin
1987, Goodman 1987a) point to the potential benefits of
establishing many small preserves rather than a few very
large preserves. Our method of incorporating this recom-
mendation is to focus attention on providing a broad geo-
graphic distribution and multiple conservation areas that
support potentially secure populations. We rely on the
analyses of population viability to determine when it might
be better to bolster a local population by extending the
boundaries of a preserve, or protect nearby patches or
corridors of habitat to facilitate movement, versus the
importance of enhancing the geographic distribution and
number of protected populations with new isolated
conservation areas.
Noss (1983) argues that a regional landscape perspec-
tive is needed to produce effective conservation strategies,
and we agree with this. The external threat posed to pro-
tected areas is very real (Janzen 1983, Janzen 1986,
Laurance 1991), and changes to surrounding areas in
Florida have substantially influenced survival and reproduc-
tive characteristics within protected populations (Humphrey
and Barbour 1979, Spalding 1991, Dwyer and Tanner
1992). However, we wonder how effective a strictly land-
scape perspective can be since it is impossible to define the
extent of landscape parameters that might influence a man-
aged population or to anticipate all the future changes that
might occur. The full range of landscape-level threats
includes rising sea levels, climate change, encroachment of
exotic species (Loope 1992), mercury contamination
(Spalding 1991), altered hydrology (Bildstein et al. 1991),
and many others. It also may be difficult to define the land-
scape requirements of some (possibly many) animal species
(Dueser et al. 1988).

SECTION 6.2 ANALYSES OF INDIVIDUAL FOCAL
SPECIES AND DEVELOPMENT OF SPECIES
CONSERVATION PLANS

This section presents the techniques, data sets, and
analyses used to create habitat distribution maps for focal
species. These maps were used to assess the quantity of
habitat provided each species by the current system of con-
servation areas in Florida. When the habitat found in cur-
rent conservation areas fell short of the minimum quantity
deemed acceptable (i.e., sufficient habitat to sustain at least


10 populations of 200 or more individuals), the habitat dis-
tribution maps were used in combination with other infor-
mation to identify important habitat areas lying outside of
existing conservation areas. In Section 7.1, the important
habitat areas identified for individual species are merged
with the important habitat areas identified for rare commu-
nities and plants to produce a single map showing some of
the most important lands outside existing conservation areas
in Florida.
The habitat areas identified for each species are called
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas due to their impor-
tance in providing some of Florida's rarest species with the
base of habitat needed for long-term persistence. However,
owing to the constantly changing nature of the Florida land-
scape, the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas should be
considered as general guidelines for new habitat conserva-
tion initiatives. Some of the areas highlighted may have
been converted to shopping malls, orange groves, or four-
lane highways since the land-cover map was created. Still
other areas may have been brought into public ownership
since the boundaries of public lands were processed.
Further updates are planned.

Section 6.2.1. American Crocodile
The habitat distribution map for the American crocodile
was developed by isolating the mangrove, coastal salt
marsh, and freshwater marsh cover types within the known
breeding range of the species (Moler 1992b). This area
includes the mainland shoreline of southern Biscayne Bay
(Turkey Point), west to Cape Sable, the bay-side shoreline
of North Key Largo, and islands in Florida Bay (Moler
1992b). Records of nesting locations collected by P. Moler
and F. Mazzotti and processed by the Florida Natural Areas
Inventory were also used to identify important nesting loca-
tions more specifically. No recent breeding records exist
for either the lower Florida keys or the west Gulf coast area,
although crocodiles are occasionally seen in these areas
(Moler 1992b).
The population of American crocodiles in Florida con-
sists of fewer than 500 individuals and only approximately 30
breeding females (Moler 1992b). This small population also
has an extremely limited geographic distribution, making it
vulnerable to catastrophic events. The combination of small
population size and limited geographic distribution makes it
imperative that no further reduction in habitat quantity or
quality be allowed (Moler 1992b). The habitat distribution
map developed for this species is shown in Figure 27. All
habitat areas that fall outside of current conservation lands
are proposed as a Strategic Habitat Conservation Area for this
species. The proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Area
consists of wetlands where regulatory provisions could be
applied to maintain appropriate habitat.
In addition to conservation of the wetland areas shown
in Figure 27, two other management activities could assist
in the management of this small population. The greatest
known source of mortality is collisions with vehicles along
U.S. Highway 1, which runs through the heart of the docu-
mented breeding range (Moler 1992b). Steps to correct this
problem are desperately needed. Moler (1992b) recom-
mends the construction of box culverts with sufficient clear-
ance to allow for their utilization by crocodiles. Another
management recommendation is to reduce human recre-






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


national activities in some of the areas
inhabited by American crocodiles
(Moler 1992b).

Section 6.2.2. American Oystercatcher
The habitat distribution map devel-
oped for the American oystercatcher was
based on nesting areas recorded by the
Nongame Wildlife Program and the
Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and
records collected for the Atlas of Florida
Breeding Birds (Kale et al. 1992). These
data were used to restrict the area within
which additional habitat analyses were
performed using the land-cover map.
Habitat analyses were performed for all
atlas blocks where oystercatchers were
reported as "probable" or "confirmed"
breeders. For the two point data sets (see
Section 3.3), we radiated out 500 m to esti-
mate a larger area within which oyster-
catchers might find appropriate habitat
conditions. Within these narrowly defined
areas, we isolated the coastal strand and
coastal salt marsh cover types and then
radiated out a distance of 60 m (2 pixels)
from the edges of these cover types. The
barren land cover and coastal salt marsh
that fell within this area was combined
with all the coastal strand cover type as an
estimate of appropriate habitat areas. The
choice of a 60 m distance was somewhat
arbitrary, but this procedure was deemed
necessary to help identify open sand
beaches and the fringes of salt marshes
that might constitute appropriate habitat
for this species.
The potential habitat areas produced
through these procedures are difficult to
see at a statewide scale. Figure 28 thus
shows the data sets used to construct the
map of potential habitat. There are three
population centers for American oyster-
catchers along the Gulf coast of Florida
and a more or less sparse but continuous
distribution of occurrence records along
the Atlantic coast. The coastal strand, salt
marsh fringe, and barren land (i.e., beach-
es) in and around Apalachicola Bay,
C i J. i ii. i i . C j -

centers for the Gulf coast populations.
Large concentrations of oystercatchers also
occur around Levy, Dixie, and Citrus
counties in late summer (J. Cox, pers.
obs.), but there is little information on the


specific areas in these counties.
Estimating the security of oyster-
catcher populations in current conservation
areas was difficult due to a lack of density


r naPRnvre LAanS
?t a
201


Figure 27. Habitat distribution map and Straegic Habitat Conservation Areas for the Amerian
crocodile.


OCCURRENCE RECORDS
POTENTIAL HABITAT
ATLAS RECORDS


Figure 28 Habitat disibution map ad occurence data for he Amenca oystercatcher


C,~
J
P






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


FI: T. I T.- ._ -: .1. TT


Figur 29 Habilat dasinbuilon map for the American swallow-tadd kile


estimations Paul and Below (1991) provide the following
estimates of population size for specific regions of the State:
50 at Apalachicola Bay, 60 at Citrus County, 125 at Tampa
Bay, and 60 at Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon.
Population sizes for other areas are not known.
Despite the limited knowledge of statewide population
sizes, we conclude that the American oystercatcher lacks the
habitat base needed for long-term security, and we offer some
general recommendations. The proportion of habitat estimat-
ed to occur within conservation lands is 45% of the total
habitat estimated to occur statewide. Given the declines
reported for populations throughout the state (DeGrange
1978, Millsap et al. 1990), protection of additional habitat
areas seems warranted The panhandle coast has the highest
percentage (65%) of habitat within current conservation areas
when various regions of the state are compared. Tampa Bay
and coastal Pinellas and Manatee counties, Indian River and
southern ;revard counties, and central and northern Volusia
County appear to have substantially smaller percentages (<
20%) of the available habitat base in some type of formal
conservation status. Habitat conservation efforts may be
needed to maintain oystercatcher populations in these
regions, but more specific survey information is needed
before specific conservation plans can be developed. Many
of the oystercatchers found south of approximately Cedar
Key nest on spoil islands (Paul and Below 1991), and appro-
priate nesting conditions on these islands could not be identi-
fied using the land-cover map Maintenance of suitable habi-
tat conditions (Landin 1991) on these areas is important in
perpetuating the broad geographic distribution of the species
in Florida


Section 6.2.3. Amercan Swallow-tailed Kite
The habitat distribution map for the Amencan
swallow-tailed kite was created using a variety of
data sets Precise nesting locations were obtained
from Meyer and Collopy (1990) and more recent
inventories performed in southwest Flonda by K.
Meyer (pers. comm.). We created a large-radius
1-km zone (Meyer and Collopy 1990) around
nesting locations to delineate core habitat areas.
Forested wetlands, upland hardwood forests,
freshwater marshes, mangrove swamps, dry


S habitat areas Breeding bird atlas records (Kale et
al. 1992) were also used to identify areas where
S swallow-tailed kites potentially breed and forage.
Within atlas blocks, we isolated the forested wet-
lands, upland hardwood forests, freshwater marsh-
es, and pinelands that might be used as nesting
sites We also obtained information on roost sites
(Meyer and Collopy 1990) that support large num-
S bers of swallow-tailed kites during fall migration
/ (Millsap 1987).
S Habitat for the American swallow-tailed kite
S remains widely distributed throughout much of
Florida (Figure 29). Hendry, Colher, Lee, Glades,
and Charlotte counties in southwest Florida con-
tain several large patches of habitat and represent
a core population center for this species in Florida
(Meyer and Collopy 1990). The pinelands and
praine land cover in Hendry and Glades counties
represent particularly important habitat areas since nests
located in pine areas are generally more productive than nests
located in other habitats (K Meyer, pers. comm.).
Hammocks and forested wetlands in Levy and Dixie counties
near the lower Suwannee River also represent large areas of
suitable habitat. Taylor, Wakulla, and Jefferson counties also
have several large patches of habitat along forested wetlands
associated with the Aucilla, Wacissa, St. Marks, and
Econfina rivers. Other potentially important areas occur
along the Apalachicola River in Franklin, Calhoun, Gulf, and
Liberty counties, and the St. Johns River valley in Flagler,
Putnam, and St. Johns counties
Based on a detailed study of nesting locations throughout
Florida, Meyer and Collopy (1990) estimated Florida's
a t . ... I I , i i hat
,hi....... i .,-.iii ,

potential habitat exist in current conservation areas, which
implies a total population of approximately 113-238 pairs on
conservation areas. Therefore, this species is far from having
the minimum habitat base recommended for long-term secu-
rity in Florida Given the fact that Florida supports the
largest extant population of swallow-tailed kites in North
America (Meyer and Collopy 1990), conservation of addi-
tional habitat areas for the American swallow-tailed kite is
especially important to nation-wide efforts to maintain
this species.
Meyer and Collopy (1990) identified 12 areas in Florida
that are critically important to maintaining core populations
of swallow-tailed kites. We digitized the boundaries of these






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


areas and isolated the suitable habitat fea-
tures occurring on private lands. These
areas form a large portion of the Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas proposed for
the American swallow-tailed kite (Figure
30). Another important element in conser-
vation efforts for the American swallow-


large portion (ca. 50%) of the North
American population of kites may gather at
a few key sites in Florida in late summer
(Millsap 1987). Major roost sites were
identified based on information provided by
K. Meyer (Meyer and Collopy 1990). A 3-
km radius circle was generated around the
largest roost sites containing > 100 individ-
uals and included in the map of Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas developed for
this species. American swallow-tailed kites
may forage at distances > 20 km from
known rost sites (K. Meyer, pers. comm.),
and conservation of large habitat areas sur-
rounding the larger roost sites is needed to
sustain these important aggregations.
The total habitat area defined by the
proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation


Conservation of these habitat areas will


Conservation of appropriate habitat condi-
tions within these zones can include several
types of land uses, including some commer-
cial timber operations. Furthermore, most
of the areas identified are also part
of the Strategic Habitat Conservation
Areas identified for Florida black bear,
Florida panther, wading birds, and other
rare species.

Section 6.2.4. Atlantic Salt Marsh Snake
and GulfSalt Marsh Snake
The Atlantic and Gulf salt marsh
snakes are considered "endangered" and
"rare," respectively, by the Florida
Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants
and Animals (Moler 1992a). We estimated
the habitat available to each population by
isolating the salt marsh and mangrove cover
types within the documented distributions
of each subspecies. Distributions were
determined using point data stored by the
Florida Natural Areas Inventory and muse-
um specimens processed by P. Moler. We
also created a 150-m zone (5 pixels) around
the land-cover types mentioned above and
incorporated the freshwater marsh occurring
within this zone. The 150-m distance is
somewhat arbitrary, but it serves to high-
light areas with transitional marshes that


AM. SWALLOW-TAILED KiE
EXISTING CONS. AREAS
STRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS

2M km


Figure 30 Propoad Stratege Habitat Consrvon Ares for the Ameran swallow-tailed kie


Figure 31. Habitat distribution map for he Atlantc salt marsh snake The Strategic Habita
Conseaton rea prop d for this sa ces consists of ail habitat ras outside the hounda of
exisg ......-on e -ao ,






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


POTENTIAL HABITAT
OCCURRENCE RECORDS


Figure 32. Habitat disbuton map for the Gulf salt m h snake. The Strategtc Habitat Conseation Area proposed for this seces consists of the habitat
remaining in aas 3 (Pensacola Bay), 4 (St. Joseph Bay), and 5 (St Andrws Bay)


the land-cover map treats as freshwater marsh. Such transi-
tional marshes may support salt marsh snakes (Kochman and
Christman 1992a).
The Atlantic salt marsh snake likely consists of a single
population that is limited to a narrow geographic area in
Volusia County (Figure 31). We estimate there to be approx-
imately 4,730 ha (11,700 acres) of appropriate habitat within
the known range of the taxon. Only 1,400 ha (3,500 acres),
or 30% of the available habitat, is within the Canaveral
National Seashore. The small quantity of available habitat
and narrow geographic distribution make conservation of the
remaining habitat of paramount importance. The habitat
remaining to the north (as far as Daytona) of current conser-
vation areas was mapped as a Strategic Habitat Conservation
Area for this species. Favorable administration of regulations
pertaining to these wetlands would provide an adequate mea-

I ~ ,Ih i - I i ,

Rey 1991).
The Gulf salt marsh snake extends from Corpus Christi
to east of Cedar Key (Kochman and Christman 1992b), and
habitat for this species is much better represented on conser-
vation lands in Florida than habitat of the Atlantic salt marsh
snake. The largest block of potential habitat (Figure 32)
found in current conservation areas occurs throughout the Big
Bend region stretching from Levy County (Cedar Key) to
Gulf County (St. Vincent Island). This broad expanse of
habitat includes a diversity of national wildlife refuges, state
wildlife management areas, and state park and recreation
areas. The largest blocks of unprotected habitat within this
area are south of Panacea in Wakulla County (Area 1, Figure
32) and east of the Aucilla River in Taylor and Jefferson
counties (Area 2, Figure 32).
Although this broad habitat area supports a large popula-
tion of the Gulf salt marsh snake in the Big Bend region, sev-
eral areas in the western panhandle (west of St. Vincent
Island) are critical to maintaining a broad geographic distrib-


ution of populations. Occupied habitat in the western pan-
handle occurs near Big Lagoon (Area 3, Figure 32) and St.
Joseph Bay (Area 4, Figure 32), and a large block of potential
habitat exists near Panama City (Area 5, Figure 32). These
disjunct habitat areas in the panhandle are proposed as
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for this taxon to ensure
that the current distribution is maintained. Again, regulations



Section 6.2.5. Audubon's Crested Caracara
St.. .~ 5. I.' .I- t.11. I 5 5 I S-- t1. .
atlas records (Kale et al. 1992), a recent survey of caracara
territories (Millsap 1991), and data points stored by the
Florida Natural Areas Inventory.
We generated a 1-km zone around the territory centers
mapped by Millsap (1991) and Florida Natural Areas
Inventory. Crested caracaras cover larger areas than the
315 ha (780 acres) defined by this zone, but the circle is
intended to define central territory areas, not total territory
size. Within these central areas we isolated dry prairie, hard-
wood hammock, freshwater marsh, shrub and brush, and
grass and agriculture land cover that might be used by
caracaras (Layne 1978a).
Within breeding bird atlas blocks where crested
caracaras were recorded, we isolated dry prairie and freshwa-
ter marsh land cover. While improved pasture also consti-
tutes important habitat for Audubon's crested caracara, the
land-cover map does not adequately distinguish between veg-
etable crops, improved pastures, and certain other types of
agricultural land uses. The inclusion of the grass and agricul-
ture land-cover data over an area as large as an atlas block
over estimates the potential habitat available. Our technique
is conservative in that it relies on the identifiable native habi-
tat available within each block. We combined the habitat
maps based on territory sites and atlas blocks into a single
map of potential caracara habitat,






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


The map of potential habitat for
Audubon's crested caracara (Figure 33)
shows several large blocks of potential
habitat in south central Florida. The total


essentially to a 10-county area extending
from the southern edge of Lake
Okeechobee to approximately the northern
edge of Lake Tohopekaliga. The largest
blocks of potential habitat occur in Glades,
Osceola, and Okeechobee counties.
Layne's (1978a) estimate for the size
of Florida's breeding population of
Audubon's crested caracaras is fewer than
200 breeding pairs A comparison of
mapped territories with existing
conservation lands shows that no existing
conservation area currently holds more
than four territories, and only 20 territories
are known to occur on established
conservation areas in Florida. This
species obviously lacks adequate represen-
tation on Flonda's current system of
conservation areas.
To develop conservation strategies for
this species, we used two valuation indices.
First, we identified concentrations of teri-
tones mapped by Millsap (1991) and the
Florida Natural Areas Inventory by creat-
ing a Voronoi diagram from these point
data sets. Polygons smaller than 4,050 ha
(10,000 acres) were assigned a score of 2
(indicating a higher density of territories)
and polygons larger than 4,050 ha (10,000
acres) were assigned a score of 1 (indicat-
ing a lower density of territories). The
resulting map is shown in Figure 34.
For a second index, we considered the


Large landownerships do not necessarily
represent caracara "habitat," but large
landownerships tend to contain habitat and
landscape features sought by caracaras
(Layne 1978a). We cross tabulated our ini-
tial map of crested caracara habitat by our
!aa't o u

parcels with at least 100 ha (250 acres) but
not more than 1,000 ha (2,470 acres) of
potential habitat, were assigned a score of
I. Private, single-ownership parcels with
more than 1,000 ha (2,470 acres) of poten-
tial habitat were assigned a score of 2. The
resulting map is shown as Figure 35.
When these two maps were overlaid
and restricted to the areas of potential habi-
tat (Figure 36), the highest scoring habitat
areas were found in Okeechobee,
Highlands, and Glades counties Glades
and Highlands counties have the largest


T
CORDSS







Figure 33 Habiat dstbution map for Audubn's crested cracra

































deeInn.ed uing a Voronol tressllaon






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 35 Large landownershps classified by the quantity of caracaa habitat.
> l0 ha.


OWNERSHIP CLASSES
















I lands contain <1,00wo ha (2,470 acres); class 2 areas contain
















SLOWEST SCORE (1)
LOW SCORE (2)
GH SCORE (3)
GHEST SCORE (4)
IIG^ S SCR 5 4n


Figure 36 Combinaton of Figure 34 ad Figure 35 to sore the potential value of crsted caaca habitat.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


SPECIES OVERLAP

I SPECIES
SPECIES
SPECIES
SPECIES
9 1CIES
SPECIES



















i SO 50



















m 1-s


Figure 38. Combined gap analysis maps for 120 species esited to the potential habitat aas for Audubon's Wested aaca (e Secon 6.3.4).






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 39. Poposed Strategic Habtat Conservaton
crsted _racm a






Table 8. Rare species recorded within the Strategic
Areas proposed for Audubon's crested caracara W
benefit from the proposed habitat conservation a
more specific habitat assessments.


Birds Amphibians

Great egret Gopher frog
Snowy egret Gopher tono
Little blue heron Eastern indi
Tricolored heron South Florid
Wood stork
Southern bald eagle Planit
Shorntailed hawk
Crested carac Scrub holly
Florida sandhdl crane Florida gold.
Florida burrowing owl Fonda gay-
Flondascrubjay Carter's wa
Flonda grasshopper sparrow Paper-like n

Mammals ,, ,
Edison's rs
Shemans fox squirrel Scrub bay
Hairy joint
Bntton's be


contiguous area of estimated high-value habitat for crest-
ed caracara. The more valuable areas shown here cover
about 311,740 ha (770,000 acres) and are dominated by


S16% and 7% of the remaining area, respectively.
Ion Important blocks of habitat also exist along the
Kissimmee River in Highlands, Polk, Okeechobee, and
Osceola counties, and in southern Orange, northern
Osceola, and west central Brevard counties.
Another method of evaluating potential caracara con-
servation areas is to relate habitat areas to other informa-


private lands to some of the other focal species analyzed
here. A composite map of habitat for other bird species
that inhabit the open prairies of central Florida was pre-
pared (Section 6.3.6) by adding together the potential
habitat maps of individual species (see Section 6.3.6).
S ., ., . i '. .
was then restricted to the habitat areas for crested
caracaras occurring on pnvate lands (Figure 37). Areas
highlighted by this evaluation occur in Glades,
Highlands, Osceola, and Polk counties, and the technique
Areas for Audubon emphasizes the importance of crested caracara habitat
near Lake Kissimmee (Area 1, Figure 37).
Another evaluation was made using a map depicting
the distribution of species richness (i.e., gap analysis; see
Section 6.3.4) in Florida When a statewide map of
species richness is limited to habitat areas for Audubon's
crested caracara, specific areas within central Glades and
southern Osceola counties are highlighted (Figure 38).
Habitat Conseraion These areas will likely benefit a number of other rare
whether these species i :. i i I- ..... i i F'. .- .
areas will depend on . .
primary focus of conservation efforts since they will pro-
vide multiple benefits.
Lack of demographic data makes it difficult to define
and Repiles precise habitat-conservation goals for Audubon's crested



o snake tones has a good chance of long-term survival. Based on
a rainbow snake this recommendation and the analyses of areas important
to caracaras and other rare species (Figures 36, 37, and
38), Figure 39 outlines a proposed Strategic Habitat
Conservation Area that encompasses 100 territories and
contains the important habitat areas on private lands in
en aster Glades, Highlands, Osceola, and Polk counties. Other
feather rare species recorded in these areas are listed in Table 8.
ea Whether all of these species benefit from the proposed
habitat conservation areas will depend on more specific
S habitat assessments.
ymm Given the very small size of the caracara population
supported by the current system of conservation areas in
eed Florida, new conservation initiatives must move quickly
ir-grass to retain extensive tracts of native prairie and improved
rangeland in Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Osceola,
DeSoto, Charlotte, and Hendry counties. One of the most
pressing threats is the conversion of improved rangeland
and native prairie lands to citrus production. In just the
last few years, permits were granted to develop citrus






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


groves on over a million acres of land of great impor-
tance to the conservation of caracara habitat (see
Section 6.2.14).

Section 6.2.6. Beach Mice
Determining the remaining habitat areas impor-
tant to several taxa of beach mice could not be per-
formed using the land-cover map exclusively. The
coastal strand land-cover class coincides with areas
where various taxa of beach mice occur, but not all
coastal strand constitutes appropriate beach mouse
habitat. Other factors such as the presence of exotic
species of rodents, damage by recent storms, human
recreation, and the presence of feral cats and natural
predators may produce inhospitable conditions in




I F. .t. a ,- i ..., I.-. -. r. 1 .



these reports, the coastal strand land cover was isolat-
ed. A 120-m zone was created surrounding this subset
of coastal strand land cover, and the xeric oak scrub,
dry prame, and barren land cover within this zone was
also incorporated as potential habitat. No effort was
made to identify the habitat areas for extinct or extir-
pated populations (Humphrey 1992a, 1992b).


Figure 40 (a-d). opposed Staegic Habiat Conseration Areas for subspecies of
beach mice.








ANASTASIA BEACH MOUSE
SSRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS
EXISTING CONS- AREAS

20 1-


Figur 40a. Ansasa Islnd beach mouse


COLOR LEGEND
EXISTING CONSERVATION AREAS
PROPOSED CONSERVATION AREAS


20 km
Fige 40b. Chntawhatch beach mouse.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SOUTHEASTERN BEACH
STRArEGIC HABITAT
EXISTING CONS. AR

ml0 k


Fgure 40c. Southeastern beach mouse.




















coLon U NE n
a \
MEX-SIN CONSERVAT-N AREAS
Popos CONSE ON AREAS
to- --


Figure 40d St Andrews bach moue


Estimates of population sie and density exist for
several taxa of beach mice, but these estimates vary
widely by season and area. Humphrey and Frank (1992)
reported densities ranging from 2-90/ha for the
Anastasia Island beach mouse. Blair (1951) estimated
densities of the Santa Rosa beach mouse to range from
0.8-4.3/ha. Crooked Island East (Bay County) was esti-
H MOUSE mated to contain about 150 St. Andrews beach mice in
T AREAS 1986, while St. Joseph Peninsula State Park was estimat-
EAS ed to have a population of about 500 St. Andrews beach
S.- gr ., ,, .l- l l. r Ii . :I.1

lowing estimates of population szes for the
Choctawhatchee beach mouse: 180 at Topsail Hill (6.5
km of beach), and 360 on Shell Island (9.4 km of beach).
Densities of the southeastern beach mouse (Extine and
Stout 1987) are reported to range from 8-64 per ha.
Although there is great variation in the estimated
sizes and densities of different populations, we estimate
that no taxon of beach mouse currently has the mini-
mum quantity of habitat needed for long-term security.
The Santa Rosa and southeastern beach mice have the
most extensive coverage of potential habitat, but even if
population densities are at the upper range of those pre-
sented, the habitat available to these taxa on existing
conservation areas is not sufficient to support at least 10
populations of 200.
Given the scarcity of beach mouse habitat, more
precise estimates for population viability might be use-
ful m devising habitat conservation plans for different
taxa. However, viability is difficult to estimate accu-
rately due to a paucity of demographic data and the dra-
matic population fluctuations characteristic of beach
mice populations (Blair 1951, Extine and Stout 1987,
Hill 1989). Burke et al. (1991) analyzed population via-
bility in the Stephens' kangaroo rat whose populations
undergo fluctuations analogous to those found in beach
I- I' h, , i-I l . ., I .. ......- I

ed to provide adequate security. This estimate is likely
somewhat high since it does not consider the security


and Hastings (1987) and data provided in Burke et al.
(1991), we estimate that 10 populations of 400 kanga-
roo rats would have > 99% chances of survival for the
minimum time penod recommended by Burke et al.
(1991). This estimation requires the perhaps question-
able assumption that smaller habitat areas are
unaffected to the degree that larger habitat areas are by
feral cats, exotic rodents, and other extrinsic problems.
Since no population currently has the minimum
level of protection necessary for long-term conserva-
tion, we consider all potential habitat on private lands to
represent Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for dif-
ferent taxa of beach mice. Strategic Habitat


Island, and southeastern beach mice. In some cases, the
areas mapped as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas
may be in public ownership as a result of recent land-
acquisition efforts.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Management activities within these areas and existing


the threat posed by cats (Humphrey and Frank 1992, Gore and
Schaefer 1993) and to a lesser degree other natural predators
and exotic rodents (Humphrey and Barbour 1979, 1981).
These external threats will likely be most severe on smaller
proposed or established conservation areas surrounded by
human habitation (Holler 1992a, 1992b, Gore and Schaefer
1993). Gore and Schaefer (1993) provided evidence of the
problems facing small beach mice populations found in close
proximity to human populations. A population of Santa Rosa
beach mice is restricted to a narrow band (approximately 150
m wide) of habitat that is bounded by residential development
and a major highway. This population has shown steady
declines because of predation by feral cats (Gore and Schaefer
1993). Large tracts of habitat are needed to provide sufficient
protection against the many threats that might be created by
surrounding land uses.
We also hasten to point out the importance of maintaining
many replicate populations, as well as large habitat areas, to
guard against the potentially devastating impacts of large
storm systems (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1986a).
Reintroduction into areas of suitable habitat
is another means of potentially expanding
the geographic range of populations.
Reintroduction efforts have been initiated at
Guana River State Park (Anastasia Island
beach mouse), Perdido Key State Recreation
Area (Perdido Key beach mouse), and
Grayton Beach State Recreation Area
(Choctawhatchee beach mouse).

Section 6.2.7. Black-whiskered Vireo
The map of potential habitat for the
black-whiskered vireo was developed using
breeding bird atlas records (Kale et al. 1992)
and the Landsat land-cover map Within
atlas blocks where black-whiskered vireos
were recorded, mangrove swamp land cover
was isolated and a zone extending out 100 m
from the edges of patches of mangroves was
created. Within this zone, upland hardwood


Owre (1978) and Stevenson and Anderson
(1992) describe the occurrence of black-
whiskered vireos in hammocks adjacent to
mangrove areas. Since these patches of
appropriate land cover are too small to see at
a statewide scale, Figure 41 shows the breed-
ing bird atlas records used to create the map
of potential habitat.
Potential habitat for the black-whiskered
vireo is most extensive in south Florida
(Figure 41) with approximately 85% of the
estimated habitat occurring in Everglades
National Park. However, populations also
extend as far north as southern Volusia
County on the east coast and Tampa Bay on
the west coast (Figure 41), and these norther- Figue41 H
ly populations appear to be disjunct from the


Everglades population. Concentrations of appropriate habitat
patches occur around Charlotte Harbor, Tampa Bay, Indian
River Lagoon, and Mosquito Lagoon. The conservation of
habitat within these northerly populations could be important


help to conserve habitat for other rare species associated with
mangrove land cover (see Millsap et al. 1990).
Densities of black-whiskered vireos have not been deter-
mined for many habitat areas in Florida, but a coarse estimate

,H .... .. ,,. ,. .. ..- .. 1.
.i ii.* i1. I r , I _

another eight conservation areas have sufficient habitat to sup-



viduals, and 12 conservation areas with sufficient habitat to
support 50-200 individuals.
These estimates lead us to conclude tentatively that black-
whiskered vireos lack the minimum level of habitat protection
desired, primarily because protected blocks of habitat











POTENTIAL HABITAT
ATLAS RECORDS


abitat disnhbuton map and breding bird a, records for the black-whiskered vle


1-1. Wr






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figur 42 Proposed Strategic Habitat Conserw


land cover that can probably be protected
through regulatory mechanisms.

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO Section 6.2.8 Bobcat
ESTRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS The habitat distribution map for bobcat
*EXISTING CONS. AREAS was created by selecting large blocks of "nat-
ural" land cover and the "disturbed" category
---- of shrub and brush. McCord and Cardoza
200 km: . i,.- i ,

tain types of agricultural lands. All "natural"
upland cover types were deemed suitable, and
the wetland cover types included cypress
swamp, hardwood swamp, bay swamp, and
bottomland hardwood.
We isolated contiguous patches of these
cover types and then eliminated patches
smaller than 100 ha (250 acres). This size cri-
terion represents an estimate of the average
home range size of female bobcats in the
southeast (Hall and Newsome 1976, McCord
and Cardoza 1982). The habitat selection
process was performed throughout the state
since bobcats are believed to be fairly ubiqui-
tous outside of major urban areas. Although
this habitat distribution map does not reflect
important differences in local habitat condi-
tions that might influence the density of bob-
cats, it does reflect the tolerance of the species
for a wide range of habitat conditions
(McCord and Cardoza 1982).
Using an estimated density of 0.2/km2
(McCord and Cardoza 1982) and the distribu-
ton of habitat in current conservation areas,
we estimate that conservation areas do not
on Area for bilck-wh asked vireo.
Si l il f fI .'' ...... i i i


currently do not cover a broad area relative to the total range
of the species. Thus, a large portion of the habitat available
within existing conservation areas may be subject to a single
catastrophic event (e.g., a hurricane). In addition, the rapid
spread of both brown-headed and shiny cowbirds into the
. l. .. i .p i m .

regulation and thus can receive protection without requiring
fee-simple acquisition
We isolated the potential habitat outside of existing con-
servation areas and eliminated patches smaller than 5 ha (an
estimated home range size). Bancroft et al. (in prep ) showed
a positive correlation of black-whiskered vireos and area of


tion. The largest blocks of habitat satisfying this condition
occurred in the Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor,
Indian River, and Biscayne Bay. These patches are proposed
as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the black-
whiskered vireo (Figure 42). The total area covered by these


servation areas with sufficient habitat to sup-
port populations > 200, and another 26 conservation areas


servation areas does not meet the minimum standards estab-
lished, there exists a large base of habitat for bobcats.



sons, no specific habitat conservation plans were developed
for this species.

Section 6.2.9. Bog Frog
Bog frogs are known only from 23 streams in and around
Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. Three of the
records consist of single individuals and probably do not rep-
resent stable populations (Moler 1992c). Population sizes for
the remaining populations are unknown.
The limited geographic distribution of bog frog popula-
tions makes it critical to conserve the habitat remaining with-
in the range of the species (Moler 1992c). Only three streams
outside current conservation areas contain significant popula-
tions. We propose the potential habitat areas within these
drainages as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the bog


~"1P






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


BLACKWATER STATE FOREST

hB, 2O0-!FT CONTOUR


GLIN AIR FORCE BASE



Ftgue 43 Pepod Strategic Habita Conrenation Aa for he bog frog

frog (Figure 43). The proposed conservation areas were
created by digitizing the 120-foot contour line around
ach r ntaing populations f bog frog from a
T _I .? k..


water snake.
Three primary threats confront bog frogs within cur-
rogt and proposed conservation areas (Moler 1992c)



habitat conservation area. Siltation and run-off from
nearby roads (Interstate 10 and county roads) may have
also had an impact. Additional stream impoundments
should not be allowed within the proposed Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas, and management of storm
water rnoff is needed for impermeable surfaces sur-
rounding the proposed conservation area. A third threat
comes from habitat succession, which has reduced bog
frog habitat on both public and private lands. Succession
should be controlled through periodic burning.

Section 6.2.10 Cuban Snowy Plover
The habitat distribution map developed for Cuban
snowy plover (Figure 44) was based on records in the
Atlas of Florida Breeding Birds (Kale et al. 1992),
Florida Natural Areas Inventory data, and information
presented in Gore and Chase (1989). We isolated the
coastal strand located within a small-radius circle (250
m) of point data describing Cuban snowy plover nesting
locations. This created a 20 ha (48 acre) core habitat Figur
area within which the coastal strand land-cover type in R
was isolated.


POTENTIAL HABITAT


44 Habitat-distribution map ad ccuence records for the Cuban snowy plover






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Within breeding bird atlas blocks Fie 45 (a-b). Proposed Srategic Habitat Conservation Area for Cuba snowy plover
where Cuban snowy plovers were record-
ed, we isolated the coastal strand land
cover and barren land cover that occurred
within 60 m of coastal strand. Since some
tidal flats are also occasionally used, we
also isolated the barren land occurring
within 60 m of the salt marsh land cover.
Figure 44 shows a sparse distribution
of nesting areas restricted exclusively to
the Gulf Coast. Coastal areas in the pan-
handle contain the greatest amount of
appropriate habitat. Gore and Chase
(1989) estimate > 70% of the Florida popu- NO .nso no
nation occurs here. Another noteworthy R n se aewA
concentration of habitat is found in south- Em s.AE
ern Pasco and northern Pinellas counties. s
Florda's snowy plover population consists
of 150-200 breeding pairs, and most are
now restricted to areas within public lands
where there is little human disturbance.
Based on the criteria developed here for
minimum levels of acceptable security, this
species is not adequately represented in
current conservation areas. Paul and Figure45a. nonia panhandle
Below (1991) list the Cuban snowy plover
as the most endangered bird of the Florida coastline.




threat posed to Cuban snowy plovers by storms, predators,
and human activities (Gore and Chase 1989), a primary con-


a number of new habitat clusters regardless of their size. A
greater number of habitat clusters could offset the impacts of
environmental catastrophes affecting any one cluster in a
given year. The fact that Cuban snowy plovers disperse
great distances (Page et al. 1983) would also enable move-
ment among clusters to occur at a high frequency. However,
very small clusters adjacent to urban areas may not provide
sufficient security against predators such as raccoons, cats,
dogs, foxes, gulls, and crows.
The acquisition of Cuban snowy plover habitat in
Walton County recently protected one of the largest breeding
populations on private lands in Florida, Additional private
lands along Highway 30A (Walton County), Philips Inlet SNOWY PLOVER
(Bay County), and Palm Point (Gulf County) each support < ESTRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS
10 breeding pairs (Gore and Chase 1989), but these small *EXISING CONS. ARAS
populations may provide big advantages in years when popu-


breeding population. These unprotected areas receive some
incidental protection through coastal zone regulations, but
more definite conservation measures should be permanently
established for these sites. Owing to the scarcity of habitat
on private lands and the importance of geographically dis-
tinct areas in plover conservation efforts, we propose the
habitat areas found on private lands as Strategic Habitat Figure 45b. South and enal Gulf cast
Conservation Areas (Figures 45a and 45b).






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Conservation of populations of snowy plovers in Florida
would also be enhanced significantly by restricting recreation-
al activities near nesting areas in current conservation lands.
The Division of Recreation and Parks, Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, is considering limiting human
access to snowy plover nesting areas on Caladesi Island State
Recreation Area, Three Rooker Bar State Recreation Area,
and Honeymoon Island State Park during the nesting season.
This is a laudable effort that should likely provide great bene-
fits to this species. O'Meara and Gore (1988) provide man-
agement guidelines for least terns that apply to some degree to
areas supporting snowy plovers.
Programs that expand the habitat available for snowy
plovers in central and south Florida are important since they
could enhance the geographic distribution of Florida's breed-
ing population. Habitat restoration might be considered in
some areas where dredge spoils are frequently deposited.
However, restoration of spoil islands is not adequate mitiga-
tion for the destruction of currently occupied habitat areas.
Areas where habitat restoration and management might be
effective are around coastal Pinellas and Pasco counties where
a small number of snowy plovers currently breeds. Habitat
restoration on spoil islands in this area might encourage nest-
ing in new areas. Restoration of dune vegetation on dredged
spoils around Charlotte Harbor and Marco Island in southwest
Florida could also be of value to Cuban snowy plovers.
Important wintering habitat areas are not well known for
Cuban snowy plovers, though large numbers are reported
from several areas in Florida. Better information of this type
needs to be collected in a systematic fashion. Cooperative
management agreements with neighboring states (particularly
Alabama) where Cuban snowy plovers breed would also
be beneficial.

Section 6.2. 1. Florida Black Bear
An initial map of potential black bear habitat was created
by isolating the large, contiguous patches of appropriate habi-
tat remaining in Florida. We merged the pineland, oak scrub,
sand pine scrub, mixed hardwood-pine, upland hardwood for-
est, cypress swamp, mixed hardwood swamp, bay swamp, and
bottomland hardwood classes into a single class categorized
as "primary" black bear habitat (Wooding and Hardisky 1988,
Maehr and Wooding 1992). Individual contiguous patches of
primary black bear habitat were identified, and patches small-
er than 0.15 km2 (37 acres) were eliminated. Mykytka and
Pelton (1989) found that habitat patches > 0.15 kmL were
important components of black bear habitat in the Osceola
National Forest.
A 1-km zone was created around each of these large (>
0.15 km2) patches, and small (< 0.15 km2) patches of primary
land cover eliminated in the previous step were reincorporat-
ed. This procedure enabled small patches in close proximity
to larger habitat patches to be included as habitat areas.
A second class of black bear habitat was also established
that included the dry prairie, sandhill, tropical hardwood ham-
mock, shrub swamp, and shrub and brush classes. These land-
cover types may be used frequently by black bears, but use of
such areas depends to some degree on nearby land cover. For
example, Wooding and Hardisky (1988) found that black
bears avoided sandhill land cover on the Ocala National
Forest. A single large patch of sandhill land cover is probably
not as valuable as sandhill land cover found in close proximity


to the other land-cover types used more frequently. The
patches of secondary habitat found within 1 km of large
patches (> 0.15 km-) of primary land cover were included in
the map of potential habitat.
A third category of black bear habitat was created through
an analysis of the mangrove land cover. Recent studies have
found that black bears frequently use mangrove swamps in
southwest Florida (D. Maehr pers. comm.). We isolated the
mangrove land cover within 5 km of primary and secondary
land cover (as defined above). The edges of the mangrove
land cover were isolated and a zone extending 300 m into the
mangrove cover was created. The mangrove land cover along
this 300-m zone was incorporated as appropriate habitat. We
also eliminated the mangrove areas lying close to open gulf
waters by creating a 90-m zone along the edge of open gulf
waters. The mangrove land cover satisfying all previous con-
ditions, but falling within this zone near water, was eliminated.
Densities of black bears in the southeastern United States
fall in the range of 0.05-0.10 breeding individuals per km2
(Carlock 1984, Wooding and Hardisky 1988, Hellgren and
Vaughn 1989). A potentially secure population of black bears
(as defined in Section 5) would require a habitat base of
approximately 2,000-4,000 km2 (490,000-980,000 acres).
Whether the quantity of habitat sought for black bear habitat
conservation areas lies towards the lower end or upper end of
this range depends upon qualitative aspects of each area, as
well as the type of management proposed for the area. Black
bear habitat areas of these general sizes would provide suffi-
cient habitat to support populations that would not experience
high rates of inbreeding. These populations could also with-
stand substantial year-to-year fluctuations in environmental
conditions. The provision of 10 such habitat conservation
areas distributed across a broad geographic area would
protect genetic diversity, provide security against
catastrophic events, and further limit the effects of seasonal
environmental variation.
A comparison of the map of potential black bear habitat
with existing conservation areas produced an estimate of suffi-
cient habitat to support two potentially secure, three insecure,
and eight imperiled populations. A density of 0.05 breeding
individuals per km2 (Carlock 1984, Hellgren and Vaughn
1989, Wooding and Hardisky 1988) was used to estimate
habitat capacity. As noted by Maehr and Wooding (1992),
current conservation areas in Florida do not provide the
habitat base needed for the long-term survival of black
bear populations.
The chances of establishing 10 black bear habitat conser-
vation areas, each about 2,000-4,000 km2 (490,000-980,000
acres) in size, are remote since each of the four largest conser-
vation areas in Florida currently provides only 810-1,620 km2
(200,000-400,000 acres) of potential habitat. Nonetheless, a
goal of establishing 10 black bear conservation areas of these
general sizes might be sought within the total geographic
range of the Florida black bear in the southeastern coastal
plain of the U. S.
Because of the limited chances of establishing new and
independent habitat conservation areas capable of sustaining
200 individuals, we limited our most detailed analyses to five
conservation areas that currently provide at least 20 km2
(50,000 acres) of potential habitat and are known to support
stable black bear populations. These areas are the Big
Cypress National Preserve (and other contiguous conservation






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 46. Large conservation areas in Florida with stable black bear population

areas), Ocala National Forest, Osceola National Forest,
Apalachicola National Forest (and other contiguous conser-
vation areas), and Eglin Air Force Base (Figure 46). We use
information on black bear dispersal and movement
characteristics to consider additional habitat protection
options available outside these conservation areas. A discus-
sion of other habitat areas where black bears occur follows
this detailed analysis.
To assess qualitative aspects of the habitat areas in and
around these larger conservation areas, we developed a sec-
ond map of potential black bear habitat that included qualita-
tive scores for patches of habitat identified in the first analy-
sis. The first index score related to the specific land cover
classes within each patch of potential habitat. Studies of
black bear habitat use in Florida have shown a general prefer-
ence for sand pine scrub, oak scrub, upland hardwood forest,
and various forested wetlands (Maehr and Wooding 1992).
We assigned sand pine scrub, oak scrub, mixed hardwood-
pine, upland hardwood forest, cypress swamp, hardwood
swamp, bay swamp, and bottomland hardwood forest a score
of 3. Pineland, mangrove swamp, and shrub and brush land
cover also may be important at different times of the year
depending on food availability, and these areas were assigned
a score of 2. The remaining "natural" cover types (e.g., sand-
hill, dry prairie, freshwater marsh, shrub swamp) within the
habitat areas identified in the initial habitat map were
assigned a score of 1.
Habitat areas were also scored using features other than
land cover. A second score of potential black bear habitat
was developed using the proximity of habitat areas to a con-


servation area with at least 20 km2 (50,000
acres) of potential blhck bear habitat (without
reference to whether the area currently supports
black bears). This scoring was developed
based on dispersal characteristics of black
bears and the realization that it will be difficult
to establish new conservation areas that are
large enough to sustain black bears for long
periods of time. Black bear conservation efforts
must build upon the existing system of
conservation areas.
Black bears may move great distances,
occasionally dispersing > 140 km (Rogers 1987,
Maehr et al. 1988). However, < 30% of the dis-
persal events recorded for black bears are > 60
km (Alt 1979, Rogers 1987, Maehr et al. 1988,
Wooding and Hardisky 1988) and fewer than
2% are > 100 km. Potential habitat within 10
km of a large conservation area was assigned a
score of 3, potential habitat within 20 km
assigned a score of 2, and potential habitat with-
in 30 km was assigned a score of 1. Note that
two large conservation areas within 60 km of
/ one another could be connected by the
patches of habitat with an index score of 1. We
thus use 60 km to define the limits of "frequent"
dispersal among
conservation areas.
Black bear distributions and use of specific
s. areas may also be influenced by vehicular traf-
fic volumes and thus the density of roads
(Pelton 1985, Wooding and Brady 1987, Brady
and Pelton 1989). We established a score for potential habi-
tat areas based on patches created by the road network in
Florida (Figure 16). Three categories of patch quality were
scored based on the size and land-cover composition of habi-
tat areas within roadless patches (see Section 3.3). A road-
less patch < 10 km2 (2,500 acres), which corresponds with
the estimated home range of a female, was assigned a score
of 0; a roadless patch > 10 km2 (2,500 acres) but consisting
of < 25% of the "primary" black bear cover types defined
above was assigned a score of 1; and a roadless patch > 10
km2 (2,500 acres) and consisting of at least 25% of the pri-
mary cover types was assigned a score of 2.
A final scoring of habitat areas was based on the diversi-
ty of cover types observed in an area. Numerous authors
(Pelton 1985, Mollohan and LeCount 1989, Maehr and
Wooding 1992) have described the importance of habitat
diversity to black bear management efforts. We measured
the diversity of four broad land-cover types using a neighbor-
hood analysis (TYDAC 1991) that assigned scores to individ-
ual pixels based on the number of different classes found
within a window of a specified size. We established a win-
dow size of 1 km to a side for this analysis. The four broad
types of land cover created from the original land-cover map
were forested wetlands (hardwood swamp, cypress swamp,
bay swamp, mangrove swamp, shrub swamp, and bottomland
hardwoods), forested uplands (pineland, sand pine scrub,
sandhill, upland hardwood forests, and mixed hardwood-
pine), freshwater marsh, and a category of low stature, open
brush lands xericc oak scrub, dry prairie, and shrub and







FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


establish habitat conservation areas in the
range of 2,000-4,000 km2 (490,000-
980,000 acres); (2) the need to preserve a
broad geographic distribution of managed
black bear populations; and (3) an interest
in conserving habitat areas important to
both black bears and other rare species.

HABITAT SCORE Region 1. Big Cypress National
SCORE = 1 Preserve and Surroundings
SCORE =2
SCORE = 3 The important features of the habitat
SCORE = 4 in and surrounding the Big Cypress
SCORE 5 National Preserve include the small num-
ISCORE =6 ber of major roads (Figure 48), several
CORE 7 large tracts of forested lands on nearby
SCORE = private land holdings, and the presence of
ESCORE = 10 several large conservation areas.
Contiguous conservation areas (Big
Cypress National Preserve, Florida
100 ktm Panther National Wildlife Refuge,
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve,
Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary, Collier-
Seminole State Park, and portions of
f Everglades National Park) contain an esti-
mated 2,100 km2 (518,550 acres) of
.- potential bear habitat with > 80% of the
-" habitat areas scoring > 8 on the qualitative
index map. These areas have the capacity
to support about 105-210 breeding indi-
Figure 47. Qualitative measures of the potential habitat available to black bears in Florida. Habitat viduals assuming an average density of
scores are based on proximity to existing conservation areas, size of roadless area, diversity of cover 0.05-0.1/km2.
types, and the presence of specific cover types. Although current conservation areas
in this region satisfy our minimum recom-
mendations for a single managed area,
brush). Pixels with at least three of these broad cover types conservation of additional habitat will provide greater security
within I km were assigned a score of 2. Pixels with two or for black bear populations statewide since it will be impossi-
fewer classes were assigned a score of 1. ble to secure sufficient habitat for a total of 10 managed popu-
Simple addition of the four maps with index scores result- nations. Increasing the habitat base that can be effectively
ed in a map with scores ranging from 0-10 (Figure 47). The managed by approximately 1,000 km2 (247,000 acres) would
aggregate map scores Florida's remaining large forested tracts provide sufficient habitat to sustain a population (150-300
based on their land-cover composition, their proximity to breeding individuals) capable of long-term survival even
large public lands, their position in a landscape of roads, and under very harsh environmental conditions. The largest con-
the diversity of four broad land-cover types within 1 km. tiguous blocks of high-quality habitat (based on index scores)
When describing the "habitat quality" of different areas, we outside of conservation areas are found west of the
are referencing this map. Patches with the highest scores Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and to the northeast of the
occur within 10 km of large public lands, are part of a large BigCypress National Preserve. There are approximately 607
roadless patch with primary land cover, and also contain a km (150,000 acres) of high quality habitat (index score > 7)
diversity of other broad land-cover features nearby. The northeast of the Big Cypress National Preserve (Area 1,
largest area with high index scores (> 6) surrounds the Figure 48). An additional 235 km2 (58,124 acres) of high
Apalachicola National Forest and extends along the Big Bend quality habitat is found extending north of Interstate 75 to
area in Jefferson and Taylor counties. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and east of Everglades
Below we review the habitat features within the vicinity Boulevard (Area 2, Figure 48). The Corkscrew Swamp
(< 30 km) of the five large public land holdings containing at Sanctuary contains an additional 40.5 km2 (10,000 acres) of
least 20 km2 (50,000 acres) of habitat and supporting known potential habitat (Area 3, Figure 48). The area west of
black bear populations. Other areas where black bears are Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, north of Tamiami Trail,
occasionally observed, and smaller conservation areas that and east of State Road 951 contains 31.5 km2 (77,928 acres)
currently support black bear populations but were not consid- of high quality habitat (Area 4, Figure 48).
ered in association with these larger conservation areas, are Conservation of habitat areas immediately north of Big
discussed later. We then develop more specific minimum rec- Cypress National Preserve, areas surrounding Corkscrew
ommendations for the conservation of black bear habitat in Swamp Sanctuary, and the forested tracts that connect this








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


block of habitat with forested areas to the
south may be among the more important
tracts within the immediate area surround-
ing the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Much of the area shown in Figure 48 to
the northeast of Big Cypress National
Preserve is scheduled to come into public
ownership in the near future.
Conservation of some of the high-quality
habitat in other areas may prove difficult
given the rate at which residential and
agricultural development is occurring.
However, chances of conserving an addi-
tional 1,000 km2 (247,000 acres) are high
if undertaken quickly, and some of the
area might be conserved through conser-
vation easements, land-use agreements, or
other methods.

Region 2. Ocala National Forest

Approximately 1,649 km2 (407,500
acres) of black bear habitat were mapped
within the Ocala National Forest, Lake
Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, and
contiguous conservation areas to the west
and southwest. This area could support
an estimated 82-165 breeding individuals.
There are an additional 3,643 km2
(900,000 acres) of high quality (index
score > 7), unprotected black bear habitat
within 30 km of the Ocala National
Forest (Figure 49). These habitat areas
could provide sufficient habitat to sup-
port a population with high chances of
long-term survival. However, the area is
also heavily crossed by roads, and > 60
black bears have died from collisions
with vehicles in this area within the last
decade (Wooding and Brady 1987, T.
Gilbert pers. comm.). Construction of
wildlife underpasses (see Foster and
Humphrey 1993) could help to reduce
some black bear mortality, but conserva-
tion of habitat acreage towards the upper
end of the range estimated (i.e., 3,200
km2, 800,000 acres) might also provide a
population large enough to offset current
levels of road mortality.
Commercial timber lands to the east,
north, and west of the Ocala National
Forest (and extending to southern Duval
County) make up a large portion of the
black bear habitat surrounding the Ocala
National Forest. Documented dispersal
(J. Wooding unpubl.) has occurred from
the Ocala National Forest into forested
lands in St. Johns, Brevard, Volusia, and
Flagler counties through an area between
Palatka and Crescent Lake (Area 1,
Figure 49). Conservation of habitat
along this corridor would enable black


HABITAT SCORE

SCORE = 1
SCORE = 2
A S E1
SCORE = 5
SCORE 6

gmSCORE = 10








Figure 48. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Big Cypress National Preserve. Numbered
areas are referenced in the text.


HABITAT SCORE
SCORE
scORE 2
SCORE =
SCORE = 4
SCORE 5
E2
-3

SCORE 6

SCORE = 9
SCORE 10
-9


Figure 49. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Ocala National Forest. Numbered areas are
referenced in the text.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


HABITAT SCORE
SCORE = I
SCORE = 2
SCORE = 3
=SCORE 4
=5
SCORE
SCORE = 6
SCORE = 7
= 9
SCORE = 10











Figure 50. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Osceola National Forest and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Numbered areas are referenced in
the text.


bears to continue to move into the large block of habitat
extending throughout Volusia, Brevard, St. Johns, and Flagler
counties (Area 2, Figure 49). However, conservation of a
large block of black bear habitat in Volusia, Brevard, St.
Johns, and Flagler counties is required for the conservation of
this corridor to have any meaning. Black bears also likely
move from the Ocala National Forest into these private forest
lands using an area between DeLeon Springs and Seville
(Volusia County) (Area 3, Figure 49).
Several conservation areas to the south of the Ocala
National Forest contain black bear habitat yet are not currently
contiguous with protected habitat on the forest. Public lands
along the Wekiva River (e.g., Rock Springs Run, Wekiva
River State Park) (Area 4, Figure 49) contain approximately
121 km2 (30,000 acres) of black bear habitat and have the
capacity to support 6-12 black bears. The total acreage of
black bear habitat along the Wekiva River (including unpro-
tected private lands) is about 536 km2 (135,000 acres).
Conservation of the black bear habitat on private lands in this
area would significantly enhance the overall security of the
Ocala black bear population, however conservation of addi-
tional habitat elsewhere surrounding the Ocala National Forest
will also be needed.

Region 3. Osceola National Forest and Surroundings

To evaluate the habitat available to black bears in and
around the Osceola National Forest, we obtained a classified
land-cover map of Georgia developed from Landsat Thematic
Mapper data collected in 1989 (ERDAS, 2801 Buford
Highway, Suite 300, Atlanta, Georgia, 30329). The proce-
dures performed for the Georgia land cover data were identi-


cal to those described earlier for the Florida land-cover data.
Results for an area centered on the Osceola National Forest
are presented in Figure 50.
The Osceola National Forest (including the Pinhook
Swamp section; Area 1, Figure 50) provides 638 km2
(157,700 acres) of black bear habitat, the smallest quantity of
any of the five conservation areas in Florida with stable black
bear populations. We estimate this area could support 32-64
breeding individuals. An additional 6,147 km2 (1.5 million
acres) of habitat occurs within the larger area of south Georgia
and north Florida shown in Figure 50, and roughly 70% of
this area has an index score > 8. Other large conservation
areas within 30 km of the Osceola National Forest include
Raiford Prison with 68 km2 (17,000 acres) of habitat, and the
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which contains 980
km2 (241,810 acres) of black bear habitat. Habitat available
on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge could support
approximately 50-100 black bears.
The black bear habitat available on either the Osceola
National Forest and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
would not support the estimated number of bears needed for
long-term survival. Conservation of an additional 1,000 km2
(247,000 acres) of black bear habitat on the private lands lying
between these two areas could establish a total habitat base of
2,630 km2 (648,600 acres) and would significantly enhance
the chances of long-term survival of both populations.
Conservation of private lands in this area would also help to
secure one of the largest forested wetland areas in the south-
eastern U.S. Some of the more important areas that are cur-
rently unprotected lie to the east and northeast of the Osceola
National Forest, including Moccasin Swamp, Cross Branch,
and the North Prong of the St. Mary's River (Area 1, Figure







CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 51. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Apalachicola National Forest and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Numbered areas are referenced
in the text.


50). Areas just to the north and west of the current bound-
aries of the Pinhook Swamp portion of the Osceola National
Forest also appear important (Area 2, Figure 50). Areas
extending west of the southwest corner of the Okefenokee
National Wildlife Refuge to U.S. 94 also appear very impor-
tant, as do areas east of the southeast comer of the refuge and
extending south of U.S. 94.

Region 4. Apalachicola National Forest and Surroundings

There are roughly 10,930 km2 (2.7 million acres) of
potential black bear habitat extending from the Aucilla River
west through the southern portions of Jefferson and Leon
counties, and throughout most of Wakulla, Franklin, and
Liberty counties (Figure 51). Most of the habitat has a quali-
tative index score > 7. At least 4,048 km2 (1 million acres)
fall within 30 km of the Apalachicola National Forest, and we
estimate that this broad area of public and private lands has
the capacity to support 200-400 black bears. Features of the
region that make it particularly attractive to black bear con-
servation include the distribution of large public land hold-
ings, the absence of major roads, and several large tracts of
private timber lands with sparse human populations.
Public lands in this region encompass a large portion of
the potential black bear habitat. The contiguous portions of
the Apalachicola National Forest, Apalachicola River
Wildlife and Environmental Area, and St. Marks National
Wildlife Refuge (Area 1, Figure 51) contain roughly 2,744
km2 (678,000 acres) of habitat, hll e riic L1tt1 cI, IIU, [1I ,rlltn.,
of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Aucilla Wildlife
M .s.1...ri,.i. nl \iie., .tt.lt u.ILh Si.t c R -I -.'r i \rij r ,;:urtc


51) contain an additional 108 km2 (26,700 acres). We esti-
mate that these public management areas can support approx-
imately 140-280 and 5-10 black bears, respectively. Tyndall
Air Force base in the southwestern portion of the area con-
tains approximately 109 km2 (27,000 acres) of habitat,
enough to support roughly 5-10 black bears.
Although current conservation areas in this region satisfy
our minimum recommendations for a single managed area,
conservation of additional habitat may provide greater securi-
ty for black bear populations statewide since it will be impos-
sible to secure sufficient habitat for a total of 10 managed
populations. Unprotected potential habitat shown north and
west of Lake Talquin encompasses roughly 784 km2 (193,800
acres; Area 3, Figure 51), but this area contains a large num-
ber of home sites and has many roads. Areas to the west of
Lake Talquin along Telofia Creek (Area 4, Figure 51) provide
approximately 1,012 km (250,000 acres) of potential habitat
with much lower human densities. Private lands along the
Apalachicola River (Area 5, Figure 51) contain roughly 1,115
km2 (275,600 acres) of potential black bear habitat and are
not subjected to high levels of human disturbance. Private
lands in Wakulla County (Area 6, Figure 51) contain roughly
624 km2 (154,200 acres) of potential black bear habitat, but
much of this area is undergoing residential development. The
remote region around Tate's Hell Swamp (Area 7, Figure 51)
contains approximately 781 km2 (193,600 acres) of potential
black bear habitat. Radio telemetry data collected by S.
Siebert (pers. comm.) show that some of the more important
areas in this region lie around the New and Crooked rivers and
St. James Island. The large forested wetlands along the







FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 52. Potential black bear habitat in and around Eglin Air Force Base. Numbered areas are referenced in the text


Aucilla and Wacissa rivers (Area 8, Figure 51) to the east of
the St. Marks National Wildlife refuge provide 910 km2
(225,000 acres) of potential habitat. The total quantity of black
bear habitat encompassed by the private lands could support an
additional 120-240 black bears. Conservation of these areas
could establish the largest managed black bear population in
the southeastern coastal plain.

Region 5. Eglin \ir F,.irc- Ba.e and Surrund;ng,

Black bears are most frequently seen in association with
the hardwood forests along the Yellow River at Eglin Air
Force Base. The Air Force Base contains approximately
1,680 km2 (415,000 acres) of black bear habitat, but only 43%
is considered "high quality" due in part to the dominance of
sandhill land cover. Black bears also frequent the eastern por-
tions of Eglin Air Force Base and private lands farther east.
Lands surrounding Eglin Air Force Base appear capable
of supporting a very large population of black bears, but only
a portion of the area outside of Eglin is currently occupied.
Blackwater River State Forest is estimated to have approxi-
mately 710 km2 (175,370 acres) of potential habitat (Area 1,
Figure 52), but black bears do not occur on this conservation
area with any degree of regularity. Other nearby public
parcels include Pine Log State Forest (Area 2, Figure 52) with
26.7 km2 (6,600 acres) of habitat, water management district
lands along the Lower Choctawhatchee River (Area 3,
Figure 52) that provide 67.6 km2 (16,700 acres), and areas
along the Escambia River that contain 55 km2 (13,700 acres)
of habitat. Together these smaller protected areas might sup-
port an additional 4-8 black bears. Recent purchase of
approximately 210 km2 (51,870 acres) of black bear habitat


east of Destin has the capacity to support 10-20 black bears
and represents a potentially valuable patch of habitat if con-
nected with Eglin Air Force Base and other conservation lands
in the area.
Conservation of private lands between Eglin Air Force
Base and Blackwater River State Forest is a potentially
appealing black bear habitat conservation strategy that could
help to conserve a large quantity of black bear habitat while
requiring only a minimal investment. This linkage would
establish a large 2,388 km2 (590,000 acre) habitat conserva-
tion region, but the importance of this connection hinges on
the ability of black bears to traverse Interstate 10 safely and
the actual significance of lands to the north. Construction of
wildlife crossings (see Foster and Humphrey 1993) along
Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90 might allow bears to move
between the areas more easily, but the current absence of
black bears in Blackwater River State Forest, and the small
number of road kills reported for this area (Wooding and
Brady 1987), raise some questions about black bear use of the
areas north of Eglin Air Force Base.
To the east of Eglin Air Force Base lies a large region of
potential black bear habitat known to support black bears.
This area (Areas 3 and 4, Figure 52) contains roughly 436
km2 (107,830 acres) of potential black bear habitat, and the
area connects Eglin Air Force Base with protected lands on
the lower portion of the Choctawhatchee River. The area
might support as many as 30-44 black bears, and in combina-
tion with Eglin Air Force Base would bring the total popula-
tion supported by conservation lands in the region to roughly
150-210 black bears. Another large block of potential habitat
occurs to the northeast of Eglin Air Force Base. This area
may be effectively severed from Eglin Air Force Base by







CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


HABITAT SCORE
SCORE = 1
SCORE =
SCORE =
SCORE = 4
SCORE = 5
SCORE -6
SCORE = 7
SCORE = -8
SCORE 9
SCORE = 10
msc o 1


Figure 53. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Green Swamp and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.


Interstate 10, but it contains approximately 129,000 acres of
potential black bear habitat.

Other Imponant BlKak Bear HabitaI Area,

Occurrences of black bears in other areas of Florida were
determined from direct observations, reports of nuisance
bears, and consultation with biologists within the Florida
Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Occasional reports
of black bears come from the Green Swamp region (Area 1,
Figure 53) where current conservation areas provide 485 km2
(120,000 acres) of habitat. These conservation areas are
capable of supporting an estimated population of 24-48 black
bears. Populations of this size have fair chances of survival
over very long periods under favorable management condi-
tions, or if bolstered by occasional immigration or managed
relocations. Efforts to link the population in the Green
Swamp with the population inthe Ocala National Forest
might help to stem local extinctions within the Green Swamp,
but the chances of black bears moving frequently between the
two areas seem low given current land uses, the abundance of
many high-use roads, the lack of a clear line of habitat lying
between these areas, and the distance between the two con-
servation areas. The distance between Green Swamp and
Ocala National Forest is about 55 km, which lies towards the
upper range of frequent dispersal distances recorded for
black bears. However, this small population certainly has
the capacity to persist for many decades under favorable
management conditions.


The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge (Area 2,
Figure 53) currently provides approximately 86.9 km2
(21,500 acres) of black bear habitat and supports a small (<
20) black bear population. The habitat base available on this
conservation area is much too small to sustain a population
for an extended period of time unless bolstered by frequent
immigration. We estimate that a total of 850 kmL (210,900
acres) of black bear habitat occurs within 30 km of the con-
servation area. Efforts to link this population to the popula-
tion in the Ocala National Forest might help to sustain black
bears in this area. However, the chances of black bears mov-
ing frequently between the two areas appear slim given the
rate of development occurring in the region, the density of
roads, the lack of a clear line of habitat, and the distance (>
50 km) between the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife
Refuge and the Ocala National Forest.
Another potential linkage might be made between the
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and the Green
Swamp area (Figure 53). The distance between these two
conservation areas is approximately 45-50 km, and the total
habitat available on the existing conservation areas that might
be included in this proposed interconnected system is 531
km2 (131,203 acres), enough to support 25-50 black bears.
Private lands currently provide 273 km2 (67,522 acres) of
potential habitat and could bring the total habitat area avail-
able to black bears in the region to approximately 804 km2
(198,725 acres). This total might support a fairly stable black
bear population of about 40-80 breeding individuals.
However, this estimate includes large blocks of potential








FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


habitat that exist next to existing conservation areas
(e.g., Areas I and 2, Figure 53) as well as the habitat
used to connect the conservation areas.
The Big Bend region (Figure 54) provides
another large block of potential black bear habitat,
but black bears are not observed in this region regu-
larly (Brady and Maehr 1985, Maehr and Wooding
1992). Potential habitat within this large region
extends from central Jefferson and Taylor counties
along the Gulf Coast through Levy County (Figure
54). The habitat area is contiguous to habitat
described in the section on the Apalachicola National
Forest, but black bears are not frequently reported
very far east of the Aucilla River in the Big Bend
area. The reason black bears are not found through-
out much of this area may relate to poor habitat qual-
ity or historical hunting pressures. A line of reason-
ing that supports the historical hunting pressure argu-
ment is an increase in reports of black bears in areas
in northwestern Taylor County recently brought into
public ownership (J. Wooding pers. comm.).
Pearson (1954) also suggested that hunting pressures
contributed to the elimination of black bears in Levy
County. A line of reasoning that supports the habi-
tat-quality argument is that the population in and
around Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
(Citrus and Hernando counties) was also subjected to
heavy hunting pressures in the past and yet managed
to persist.
Conservation areas in the Big Bend region
encompass a small portion of available bear habitat.
The combination of the Lower Suwannee River
National Wildlife Refuge, Manatee Springs State
Park, and Andrews Wildlife Management Area pro-
vides a total of 172 km2 (42,500 acres) of potentially
high quality (index score > 7) black bear habitat
along the Suwannee River. To the north and west of
these public tracts lies the archipelago of public
lands in the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area,
which provides another 204 km2 (50,400 acres).
The total acreage of potential habitat in this region
with an index score > 5 is 5,947 km2 (1,469,000
acres). This area appears capable of supporting
a very large population of 297-594 black bears under
proper management.
Another block of habitat known to support black
bears occurs along the northern portion of Fisheating
Creek in Glades County and extending north into
Highlands County (Figure 55). Although the exact
size and distribution of this population is difficult to
estimate, we estimate a total of 584 km2 (144,250
acres) of black bear habitat lies between the
Archbold Biological Station and Webb Wildlife
Management Area (Figure 55). An estimated 120
km2 (29,640 acres) occurs in the remaining portions
of Glades and Highlands counties. Black bears have
been recorded moving into this area from the Big
Cypress region (Maehr et al. 1988). This linkage
would be maintained by the Strategic Habitat
Conservation Area proposed for the Florida panther
(Section 6.2.14), and more information on the bear
population inhabiting this area is needed.


Figure 54. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Big Bend region.
















SCORE=
S E ORE = 1
SCORE 5
r SCORE

SCORE10


Figure 55. Potential black bear habitat in Highlands and Glades counties.








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


ipSCORE = 1
q SCORE = 2













The Tosohatchee State Preserve St Johns National= 4
SCORE = 9
,sCo. = lo


Figure 56. Potential black bear habitat in and around the Tosahatcbee State Reserve.


The Tosohatchee State Preserve, St. Johns National
Wildlife Refuge, and surrounding areas are thought to sup-
port a small black bear population (Figure 56). The total
contiguous acreage on these conservation areas is roughly 93
km2 (23,000 acres), which would support 5-10 black bears.
This population is too small to persist for more than a few
decades even under the best of conditions. However, the
population may currently be part of a larger population that
extends along the St. Johns River and into forested areas in HABAT SCORE
Volusia, Brevard, Flagler, and St. Johns counties (e.g., ISC.RE = 1
Spruce Creek Swamp). The areas in Volusia, Brevard, P SCORE =
Flagler, and St. Johns counties are contiguous to the Ocala SCORE = 4
National Forest (see discussion of Ocala National Forest). SCORE = 5
Another area of frequent black bear sightings is the S =7
Durbin Swamp and Twelve Mile Swamp area of St. Johns SCORE =
and Duval counties (Figure 57) near St. Augustine. The area SCORE = 9
east of Interstate 95 provides approximately 376 km2 I SCORE =10
o)'f II , re,, o bl.Ack hear h.ihlal The area west of
Interstate 95 is part of the large block of habitat described for
Volusia, Brevard, St. Johns, and Flagler counties (see discus-
sion of Ocala National Forest). The habitat base to the east
of Interstate 95 is not capable of sustaining a population for
an extended period of time, so the maintenance of this popu-
lation will require occasional immigrants from nearby popu-
lations. Black bears have been recorded moving into the
vicinity of Durbin and Twelvemile swamps from the Ocala
National Forest, but Interstate 95 may limit the number of
dispersing bears that actually reaches the Durbin and
Twelvemile swamp area. Figure 57. Potential black bear habitat in and around Durbin Swamp and


I we venmic reck n t. e olms an uval coun es.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


SPECIES OVERLAP
*1-2 SPECIES
3-4 SPECIES
*58 SPECIES
7-8 SPECIES
9-10 SPECIES
11-12 SPECIES
13-14 SPECIES

200 km


Figure 58. Combined gap analysis maps for 120 species (see Section 6.3.9) restricted to the potential black bear habitat within 50 km of existing conservation
areas with stable black bear populations.


Proposed Strategic Habitat
Conservation Areas for Black Bears

Acquisition of the black bear habitat described in the pre-
ceding pages could easily consume all funds available for land
acquisition over the next 10 years. The fact that land acquisi-
tion funds are limited necessitates a careful evaluation of each
area to determine which are most essential to black bear con-
servation efforts and also help to protect other rare species.
The fact that black bear habitat requirements do not overlap
with some of the other rare species analyzed must also be kept
in mind since there are definite limits to the funding available
for land conservation efforts.
An initial ranking of minimum habitat conservation areas
sought for black bears should be based simply on the presence
of stable, documented populations. As noted above, blocks of
potential habitat in the southern portion of the Big Bend
region, Blackwater River State Forest, and elsewhere are not
known currently to support stable black bear populations.
Potential habitat in and surrounding these areas must be rele-
gated to a lower priority in comparison to the habitat areas
surrounding other publicly held lands where black bears
occur regularly.
The chances of an area supporting a stable population
without recurring immigration is another criterion that should
be used to evaluate minimum habitat conservation priorities.
The level of immigration required to sustain some of the
smaller populations described may be achieved through the
establishment of habitat corridors, but required immigration
rates may also be higher than habitat corridors alone can pro-
vide (see Section 6.1). The small populations described for
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, Durbin and
Twelvemile swamps, Green Swamp, and other areas would


also require major new land conservation efforts in order to
provide a sufficient habitat base to sustain these populations
for acceptable lengths of time.
For the remaining populations, the presence of other valu-
able natural resources can help to evaluate the importance of
black bear conservation efforts to other species. Figure 58
shows the overlap of potential black bear habitat within 50 km
of major conservation areas (Figure 46) with the gap analysis
map for 120 rare taxa. The gap analysis map was created by
overlaying potential habitat maps developed for 120 species
(see Section 6.3.4) and provides a coarse indication of
species-rich areas. Some of the larger areas with high species
richness that also coincide with potential black bear habitat
conservation areas occur north of Big Cypress National
Preserve and north of Ocala National Forest.
Another type of evaluation is to consider records of plants
and animals stored by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory and
Nongame Wildlife Program Wildlife Observation database
that occur near the major public land holdings with stable
black bear populations. Table 9 provides occurrence records
on private lands within 10 km of these existing large habitat
conservation areas. Whether all of these species benefit from
the proposed habitat conservation areas will depend on more
specific habitat assessments. However, the large number of
records (Table 9) for habitat areas surrounding the Big
Cypress National Preserve, Ocala National Forest,
Apalachicola National Forest, and Eglin Air Force Base pro-
vide a good indication of the importance of these areas to
black bears and other rare species. Large-scale habitat conser-
vation measures in these areas would help to maintain viable
populations of black bears and conserve many other important
natural resources.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Table 9. Rare species recorded in the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas proposed for Florida
from the proposed habitat conservation areas will depend on more specific habitat assessments.


black bear. Whether these species benefit


BIG CYPRESS STRATEGIC
HABITAT AREA

Birds
Crested caracara
Southern bald eagle
Wood stork
Little blue heron
Tricolored heron
Snowy egret
Great egret
Florida scrub jay

Reptiles
Eastern indigo snake
Gopher tortoise

Plants
Night-scented orchid
Ghost orchid
Cow-horned orchid
Tiny orchid
Fuch's bromeliad
Delicate ionopsis
Florida lantana
Carter's large-flowered flax
Pineland jacquemontia
Twinberry
Narrow-leaved caroline
Bird's nest spleenwort
Tampa vervain
Coastal vervain


Plants
Florida willow
Florida mountain-mint
Nodding pinweed
Large-flowered rosemary
Lake-side sunflower
Scrub bay
Fall-flowering ixia
Scrub holly

OSCEOLA STRATEGIC HABITAT AREA

Birds
Great egret
Little blue heron
Wood stork
Snowy egret

Amphibians and Reptiles
Carpenter frog
Many-lined salamander
Gopher tortoise
Canebrake rattlesnake

Fish
Eastern mudminnow
Blackbanded sunfish

Plants
Hartwrightia

APALACHICOLA STRATEGIC
HABITAT AREA


OCALA STRATEGIC HABITAT AREA


Birds
Great egret
Bald eagle
Osprey
Florida scrub jay
Florida sandhill crane

Reptiles and Amphibians
Short-tailed snake
Eastern indigo snake
Gopher tortoise
Flatwoods salamander

Fish and Invertebrates
Snail bullhead
Dusky shiner
River goby
Seminole spring snail


Birds
Great egret
Osprey
American swallow-tailed kite
Southern bald eagle
Bachman's sparrow

Amphibians and Reptiles
One-toed amphiuma
Flatwoods salamander
Apalachicola kingsnake
Gopher tortoise
Eastern indigo snake
Spotted turtle
Florida pine snake
Apalachicola dusky salamander

Fish
Grayfin redhorse
Atlantic sturgeon
Spotted bullhead


Plants
Yellow fringeless orchid
Southern red lily
Apalachicola dragon-head
Baltzell's sedge
Scare-weed
Wiregrass gentian
Spoon-leaved sundew
Violet-flowered butterwort
Large-flowered grass-of-parnassus
Carolina grass-of-parnassus
Florida bear-grass
Chapman's butterwort
Chapman's crownbeard
White birds-in-a-nest
West's flax
Thick-leaved water-willow
A meadowbeauty
Curtis's loosestrife
Corkwood
Pondspice

EGLIN STRATEGIC HABITAT AREA

Mammals
Round-tailed muskrat

Amphibians and Reptiles
Flatwoods salamander
Florida bog frog
Pine barrens treefrog
Alabama map turtle

Fish
Florida logperch
Bluenose shiner
Florida chub
Cypress darter

Plants
Panhandle lily
Curtis's sandgrass
Pineland hoary-pea
White-top pitcher-plant
Sweet pitcher-plant
Ashe's magnolia
Pyramid magnolia
Chapman's crownbeard
Chapman's butterwort
Perplicata roundlake
Fuzzy pigtoe
Clench's elimia
Wiregrass gentian






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


BLACK BEAR
EIsRAuTEIC HABnTAT AREAS
qIEXISTmG CONS. AREAS

ee .
200lnm


Figure 59. Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the Florida black bear.


Based on these overlays and analyses, we developed the fol-
lowing minimum habitat conservation goals for black bear
populations in Florida.
1. Black bear habitat around the Big Cypress National
Preserve appears to be of potentially greatest importance to
black bears and many other rare species. Conservation of
habitat areas north of current conservation lands would benefit
species such as Florida panther, wood stork, Florida sandhill
crane, American swallow-tailed kite, Audubon's crested
caracara, and possibly some of the other species listed in
Table 9. This subtropical region also represents a unique
environmental setting for black bear populations in the south-
eastern United States. A conservation area of 1,655 km2
(282,100 acres) is proposed for this area (Figure 59) that will
increase the quantity of managed black bear habitat to 2,797
km2 (690,820 acres). Note that much of the area shown to the
northeast of the Big Cypress National Preserve has recently
been brought into public ownership.
2. Conservation of black bear habitat areas around the
Ocala National Forest would also provide multiple benefits.
Unprotected lands adjacent to the Wekiva River south of the
Ocala National Forest are important to several species of wad-
ing birds, Florida scrub jay, limpkin, American swallow-tailed
kite, and possibly some of the other species listed in Table 9.
Conservation of areas north of Ocala National Forest would
protect xeric upland communities that provide habitat for
Florida pine snake, southeastern kestrel, gopher tortoise, and
others (Table 9). The forested areas lying between Crescent
Lake and Palatka constitute a valuable documented dispersal
corridor that currently is used by black bears moving between
the Ocala National Forest and forested areas in St. Johns,
Volusia, Flagler, and Brevard counties. The conservation of
forested lands in St. Johns, Volusia, Flagler, and Brevard


counties is needed as well as the conservation of this corridor.
The habitat conservation area developed for this region
(Figure 59) totals 2,773 km2 (684,930 acres) and also may
provide habitat for some of the species listed in Table 9.
3. Forested habitat north of the Osceola National Forest
serves as a corridor to the Okefenokee National Wildlife
Refuge and helps to enhance the security of one of Florida's
smaller managed black bear populations. Forested wetlands
in this area are also potentially important to several species of
wading birds, bobcat, wild turkey, and some of the species
listed in Table 9. The scarcity of both roads and humans also
makes this area especially appropriate for black bear manage-
ment. A Strategic Habitat Conservation Area (Figure 59)
encompassing an additional 404 km2 (100,000 acres) of habi-
tat is proposed for this area. The total acreage of potential
black bear habitat included in this Strategic Habitat
Conservation Area and in existing conservation lands is 3,080
km2 (761,000 acres), which we estimate will support 154-308
breeding individuals.
4. There are also scattered areas of potential importance
in and around the Apalachicola National Forest. Areas imme-
diately southwest of the Apalachicola National Forest and
along the Apalachicola River are extremely important to
American swallow-tailed kite (see Section 6.2.3), several rare
wading birds, and some of the rare species listed in Table 9.
This area also may support a number of endemic species of
plants that are not well represented in current conservation
areas in Florida (Section 6.3.1). Areas to the north of the
Apalachicola National Forest also sustain several endemic
species (Muller et al. 1989) (Table 9). Black bear habitat near
the Wacissa and Aucilla rivers is part of the Strategic Habitat
Conservation Area recommended for the American swallow-
tailed kite (Section 6.2.3). This area is also of potential






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


', TENTIAL HABITAT









^- .A* ""


Figure 60. Habitat distribution map and occurrence records for the Florida burrowing owl.


importance to limpkins (Section 6.2.20) and other species
listed in Table 9. A Strategic Habitat Conservation Area
(Figure 59) encompassing an additional 971 km2 (240,000
acres) is proposed for this area. The total area of potential
habitat in existing conservation lands and these proposed
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas is 3,823 km2
(944,281 acres), which would sustain an estimated 190-380
black bears.
5. Occupied black bear habitat immediately to the north
of Eglin Air Force Base supports several rare amphibians and
plants, including the bog frog, pine barrens treefrog, panhan-
dle lily, and potentially some of the other species listed in
Table 9. The occupied habitat immediately to the east of
Eglin is important to endemic species of fish and some of the
species listed in Table 9. A conservation area (Figure 59)
encompassing an additional 575 km2 (142,025 acres) is pro-
posed for this area. The total area of potential habitat pro-
posed for this black bear Strategic Habitat Conservation Area
is 3,087 km2 (762,640 acres), which would sustain an esti-
mated 150-300 black bears.
All five of these areas are of great importance to black
bear conservation and the conservation of other natural
resources. Conservation and management of black bear habi-
tat, perhaps more than the other species discussed, may entail
a range of land-use activities. Preservation (fee-simple acqui-
sition) should be used to conserve those habitat areas impor-
tant to both black bears and to other rare species less tolerant
of a wide range of land uses, while conservation (e.g., conser-
vation easements) could be pursued elsewhere to maintain the
forested conditions preferred by bears while also allowing
private land uses. Within proposed conservation areas, com-
mercial timber operations and grazing can be maintained, but
all activities must be carefully evaluated since large-scale


habitat changes may displace black bears (Pelton 1985,
Weaver et al. 1990, Hellgren et al. 1991, Wooding et al.
1992). Land-use practices should perpetuate the "remote"
quality of areas that black bears seek. More specific manage-
ment recommendations for conservation areas have been out-
lined by Pelton (1985), Hillman and Yow (1986), and
Weaver et al. (1990).

Section 6.2.12. Florida Burrowing Owl
The map of potential burrowing owl habitat was created
by establishing a small-radius circle (250 m) around occur-
rence records stored in the Florida Natural Areas Inventory
database. Breeding bird atlas blocks where burrowing owls
were reported as "probable" or "confirmed" breeders (Kale et
al. 1992) were also used. We isolated the dry prairie land
cover within these atlas blocks. The map of potential bur-
rowing owl habitat (Figure 60) shows small patches of
potential habitat in very few areas of the state. Burrowing
owl habitat is much more common than depicted here
because ruderal areas that sustain burrowing owls cannot be
identified from the land-cover map. The largest remaining
patches of "natural" burrowing owl habitat occur along the
Kissimmee River.
The greatest apparent concentration of "natural" burrow-
ing owl habitat on conservation areas occurs in the
Kissimmee Prairie region and includes Avon Park Air Force
Range, Audubon Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, Arbuckle State
Forest, and Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area.
Outlining additional protection options for this species is
problematic due to the difficulty in identifying appropriate
habitat conditions, a lack of information on dispersal capabil-
ities and population demographics, and a lack of knowledge
on the density of territories in various habitat conditions.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


However, by combining breeding bird atlas and Florida
Natural Areas Inventory data onto a single map (Figure 60),
some potentially important areas outside the current system of
conservation areas stand out.
The concentration of occurrence records surrounding the
Avon Park Air Force Range (Area 1, Figure 60) implies a
sizeable population in this region, yet there are few records
shown specifically within this conservation area. The area
between Avon Park Air Force Range and Lake Kissimmee
shows several atlas records and contains several patches of
native dry prairie, while the area between Avon Park Air
Force Range and Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area also
shows a concentration of breeding bird atlas records and
Florida Natural Areas Inventory records. If burrowing owl
dispersal distances are on the order of 5-15 km, this region
could be considered one large population.
A concentration of occurrence records in southeast
Florida along the Miami Ridge (Area 2, Figure 60) implies a
sizeable owl population on agricultural lands in this area.
This population is confronted by a burgeoning urban environ-
ment, and more specific conservation plans must await better
information on habitat use and distributions in this area.
There are also concentrations of records of burrowing
owls on agricultural lands to the west, northwest, and south-
west of Lake Okeechobee (Area 3, Figure 60). Many remnant
patches of prairie habitat in these areas warrant consideration
for conservation. Conservation of rangeland within this gen-
eral area would also benefit burrowing owls. An apparently
large, unprotected population of owls also inhabits west cen-
tral Lee County and Charlotte County (Area 4, Figure 60).
The population in Lee County occurs largely on Cape Coral
and has been the subject of an ongoing survey program
(Millsap and Bear 1989).
No specific habitat conservation recommendations were
developed for burrowing owls because of the difficulty of
identifying appropriate ruderal habitat areas. We believe the
conservation recommendations developed for other species
(e.g., Audubon's crested caracara, sandhill crane, and Florida
grasshopper sparrow) will, to a large extent, also benefit
burrowing owls.

Section 6.2.13. Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
Delany et al. (1985) and Delany and Cox (1986) found
182 Florida grasshopper sparrows at nine sites. The largest
protected populations occur on Avon Park Air Force Range
and Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, which each have
> 50 breeding pairs (Delany 1993). The Audubon Prairie
Preserve in Okeechobee County also supports a breeding pop-
ulation of Florida grasshopper sparrows and contains
sufficient habitat to support a large population. Results from
Florida's breeding bird atlas project (Kale et al. 1992) and
additional surveys by Delany (1993) added only a few new
locations to the above list. The information provided
through these surveys lead us to conclude that Florida
grasshopper sparrows currently lack the habitat base desired
for long-term security.
Identifying appropriate grasshopper sparrow habitat was
difficult using the Landsat cover map exclusively. The dry
prairie land-cover class often includes areas with widely
spaced pine trees, and such areas are not usually inhabited by
grasshopper sparrows. We refined our map of potential habi-
tat in several ways. First, we digitized all locations where


grasshopper sparrows were reported by Delany and Cox
(1986) and Delany (1993). We also isolated dry prairie land
cover in breeding bird atlas blocks where grasshopper spar-
rows were recorded, with the additional condition that prairie
land cover be at least 0.1 km away from other forested land-
cover types. This distance was based on recommendations
provided by M. Delany (pers. comm.). Finally, we obtained
additional information on grasshopper sparrow locations in
Okeechobee County (R. DeLotelle pers. comm.).
These data sets (Figure 61) point to an extremely limited
number of options available for this species. The only large
blocks of grasshopper sparrow habitat not known to occur
within current conservation areas are in Desoto, Glades,
Osceola, Okeechobee, and Highlands counties. The area
between Avon Park Air Force Range and Florida Audubon
Society Prairie Preserve (Figure 61) contains several impor-
tant blocks of unprotected or restorable habitat. Other blocks
of potential habitat on private lands occur north and west of
Lake Okeechobee (as indicated by two occurrence records)
and in southeastern Desoto County. There is likely more
habitat in these areas than shown, but lack of access has pre-
vented collection of additional information (Delany 1993).
The recovery plan adopted for Florida grasshopper spar-
row by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1988) recommends
conserving sufficient habitat to support a minimum of 10 pop-
ulations consisting of at least 50 breeding pairs. This is con-
sistent with the general conservation goals outlined in Section
5.3. Based on territory sizes estimated by Delany (1993),
each of these populations would require > 600 ha (1,482
acres) of appropriate habitat. Conservation of appropriate
habitat on private lands within the general regions shown in
Figure 62 represents a top priority in efforts to maintain this
species in Florida. These areas are proposed as Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas for the Florida grasshopper
sparrow (Figure 62).
There is a need to augment Florida grasshopper sparrow
populations on Florida's conservation areas through habitat
management and restoration and, perhaps, population reintro-
duction. Restoration of rangeland and dense, unburned scrub
areas to native dry prairie land cover on existing conservation
areas (Delany 1991) is a research project that warrants special
attention. Conservation areas that occur within the historic
range reported by Delany and Cox (1986) should be evaluated
for their potential to support Florida grasshopper sparrows.

Section 6.2.14. Florida Panther
The Florida panther population is estimated at 30-50
adults and occupies a limited area of southwest Florida
(Belden 1989). Home range sizes in panthers average about
550 km2 (135,850 acres) for males and 300 km2 (74,100
acres) for females (Maehr 1987, Belden 1989). Home range
size relates to habitat quality, prey abundance, and other fac-
tors (Maehr 1987, Belden 1989). Maehr (1987) estimated a
density of 1/110 km2 (1/42 mi ) based on home range infor-
mation from south Florida, and we used a density of 1 pan-
ther/i 10 km2 (1/42 mi2) to develop habitat conservation
strategies for this species.
Our generalized population viability model for Florida
panthers indicates that a population of about 50-70 would
have a good chance of persisting for at least 200 years under
favorable management conditions. This estimate agrees with
recommendations made to the Florida Panther Interagency







CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


P(-OTTJTIAL I tI, lAT
), . i ii 1,1 Ir I t O R DS


Figure 61. Habitat distribution map and occurrence records for the Florida grasshopper sparrow.


COLOR LEGEND
STRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS
EXISTING CONS. AREAS

50 kn


Figure 62. Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the Florida grasshopper sparrow.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


I..


PC. l rNil,-l


Figure 63. Potential Florida panther habitat in southwest Florida.



Advisory Committee (Ballou et al. 1989) as well as an inde-
pendent estimate developed for cougar populations in
California (Beier 1993). A single secure population of pan-
thers thus might require as much as 8,100-16,200 km2 (2-4
million acres) of habitat.
Although the current population of Florida panthers found
in southwest Florida is viable, the population is by no means
adequately represented on conservation lands in the region.
Maehr (1990) estimates that current conservation areas could
support only 18-24 panthers. Conservation of additional habi-
tat areas is needed to place the size of the manageable popula-
tion within the range needed for long-term survival.
Belden et al. (1988) and Maehr et al. (1991) found that
panthers inhabited a landscape consisting of large patches of
hardwood hammock, pineland, hardwood swamp, and cypress
swamp cover types. Large areas without roads, large public
conservation areas, and large private land ownership patterns
are also important features of the landscapes occupied by pan-
thers (Maehr et al. 1991, Belden and Hagedom 1992).
Intensive agricultural areas and barren land cover are not
regularly used by Florida panthers (Maehr et al. 1991).
We developed qualitative scores for panther habitat based
on the information presented in Belden et al. (1988) and
Maehr et al. (1991). These analyses were restricted to the
Treasure Coast, Southwest Florida, South Florida, Tampa
Bay, East Central Florida, and Central Florida regional plan-
ning council areas where the core population occurs (Belden
1989, Maehr 1992). However, we also conducted a second
analysis throughout the state to help determine suitable
reintroduction areas.
We first established "preferred" and "secondary" habitat
types using the land-cover map. Preferred land-cover types


included pineland, hardwood hammock, and cypress swamp
(Maehr et al. 1991). Secondary habitat types included hard-
wood swamp, dry prairie, oak scrub, and other cover types
that may not be often used by panthers but appear to be
important in determining the presence of panthers in an area
(Maehr et al. 1991). We isolated patches of preferred land
cover and eliminated patches that were smaller than 0.4 km2
(100 acres) in size. We then added patches of "secondary"
land cover and the smaller patches of preferred land cover
occurring within 1 km of the edges of the larger patches of
preferred land cover. These distance and patch size criteria
were based on observations of occasional excursions of
panthers outside of large, contiguous forest areas (D. Maehr
pers. comm.)
We modeled panther avoidance of barren land cover
(Maehr et al. 1991) by isolating individual patches of barren
land and eliminating contiguous patches that were smaller
than 0.4 km2 (100 acres). We then eliminated preferred and
secondary land cover that fell within 300 m of large (> 0.4
km2) patches of barren land cover. The distance of 300 m
was arbitrarily selected, but it produced a conservative esti-
mate of habitat distribution away from currently barren lands.
The resulting map of potential habitat areas is shown in
Figure 63.
We further refined this map of potential Florida panther
habitat by evaluating patches of habitat in the context of other
geographic features. First, we established a measure of the
size of roadless patches and the composition of land-cover
types within roadless patches. We cross-tabulated our map of
potential panther habitat with our map of roadless patches
(Figure 16). Roadless patches < 190 km2 (46,720 acres), an
approximate home range size for a female (Maehr et al. 1991),






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


HABITAT SCORE
SCORE I
SCORE 2
SCORE 3
SCORE 4
SCORE 5
SCORE 6
SCORE
SCORE 8

50 k.
6I
,,


1iW


Figure 64. Qualitative measures of potential Florida panther habitat in southwest Florida.


were assigned a score of 1 regardless of the habitat composi-
tion within the patch. Roadless patches > 190 km2 but con-
taining < 15% of the preferred land-cover types were
assigned a score of two. Patches > 190 kmr and having at
least 15% coverage of preferred land-cover types were
assigned a score of 3.
Second, we established a qualitative measure for habitat
based on the quantity and composition of land cover on pri-
vate parcels. Parcels having < 100 km2 (2,470 acres) of the
preferred land-cover types were assigned a score of 1.
Parcels having > 100 km2 (2,470 acres) of preferred land
cover but having less than a 15% coverage of preferred land-
c,, cr i) pe, were j,;gned ,c ,re -f 2 Parcels having > 100
km2 of preferred land cover and at least 15% of preferred
land-cover types were assigned a score of 3.
Third, we established a qualitative score for patches of
preferred forest cover based on patch size. Patches of pre-
ferred habitat at least 10 km2 (2,470 acres) were assigned a
score of 2, and patches smaller than 10 km2 (but at least 0.4
km2, see above) were assigned a score of 1.
We combined these maps to produce a composite map
with scores ranging from 1-8 (Figure 64). The distribution of
high-scoring habitat areas corresponded well with document-
ed panther home ranges based on radio telemetry data (Maehr
1987) and field surveys of sign within the occupied range
(Roof and Maehr 1988). I he Largc.- bl.ks, I b,1 ....LI t n
land cover are found in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, and
Glades counties. Private lands immediately north and north-
west of the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Big Cypress
National Preserve, and Florida Panther National Wildlife
Refuge, together with lands within these preserves, formed
the largest contiguous block of land cover with high index
values (Area I, Figure 64). Another large block of habitat


with high index scores is found in western Glades and eastern
Charlotte counties (Area 2, Figure 64) where frequent signs
of panther have been reported (Roof and Maehr 1988).
Eastern Manatee and Sarasota counties and western
Hardee and DeSoto counties also show high index scores
(Area 3, Figure 64). No thorough survey information exists
for this area, so the presence of a stable panther population is
possible but unknown. There is also a wide break in the con-
tinuity of areas with high index scores in southeastern DeSoto
County, and this break may represent an effective barrier to
panther movements into the areas in eastern Manatee and
Sarasota counties.
Another large region with high index scores occurs in
southeast Polk, northeast Highlands, and northwest
Okeechobee counties (Area 4, Figure 64). Credible signs of
panthers have been reported in portions of this region in
recent years (e.g., Layne and Wassmer 1988), but no survey
has been attempted due to the difficulty of gaining access to
large private lands. There is some break in the habitat
between this area and the areas known to be occupied to the
southwest, and recent conversion of large areas of suitable
habitat to citrus production may have enlarged the gap in
habitat continuity.
Private lands in southwest Florida are estimated to con-
tain more than 50% of the occupied range of Florida panthers
(Maehr 1990), and habitat quality on private lands is higher
than habitat quality on public lands due to soil productivity
and drainage characteristics. Conservation of a total of
approximately 8,100 km2 (2 million acres) is needed to
achieve the conservation goals outlined here and elsewhere
(Maehr 1990). This area represented the extent of the range
occupied by Florida panthers in south Florida in the late
1980's (Maehr 1990). Based on the high index areas shown






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Figure 65. Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the Florida panther.


in Figure 64 and the recommendation to conserve approxi-
mately 8,100 km2 (2 million acres) of habitat, Figure 65 pre-
sents a proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Area for the
Florida panther that, in combination with existing conserva-
tion areas, encompasses most of the radio telemetry locations
and includes most of the areas with high index scores. The
potential panther habitat on private lands in this area totals
6,480 km (1.6 million acres).
Conservation of panther habitat within this proposed
management zone is critical to maintaining the south Florida
panther population (Maehr 1990) and will also help to protect
many other rare species. This area provides habitat for other
species, such as black bear (Section 6.2.11), Florida sandhill
crane (Section 6.2.15) and Audubon's crested caracara
(Section 6.2.5), that lack an adequate habitat base in current
conservation areas. A listing of rare plants and animals
recorded within the proposed panther habitat conservation
areas by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory and Nongame
Wildlife Program Wildlife Observation databases are
provided as Table 10. Whether these species benefit from the
proposed habitat conservation areas depends on more specific
habitat assessments.
This lirge m.nriag'ernenl ne sh.uold hie cnri-rd priv,. r.
l' i-inc l -.i,er..ll ri e.,' elnen .11-ad. i[her land -e l, r c.
ments with fee-simple acquisition being an alternative in
selected cases. Conservation programs that maintain suitable
habitat conditions on private properties are badly needed
(Maehr 1990), and the Florida Panther Interagency Technical
Advisory Committee has developed a habitat conservation
plan for Florida panthers that is consistent with the goals out-
lined here.
The threats facing Florida panthers require quick and
aggressive actions if panthers are to be saved from extinction.


The situation may seem desperate given the magnitude of the
many problems described (Belden 1989), but the situation is
far from hopeless if quick actions are taken. Other wildlife
species reduced to population sizes comparable to those of the
Florida panther have rebounded to more stable levels over
time (Bonnell and Selander 1974, Ballou et al. 1989). A very
encouraging sign comes from the fact that demographic and
behavioral characteristics of Florida's panther population are
similar to those of western cougars (D. Maehr pers. comm.).
Even though the effective population size of Florida panthers
has probably numbered only a score of individuals (or fewer)
for many generations and the population is doubtlessly highly
inbred, only recently has inbreeding apparently begun to
affect survival and reproductive capabilities to the point that it
is now believed to present a problem.
One of the greatest threats to the continued existence of
panther habitat in south Florida is conversion of large areas of
rangeland and native land cover to agriculture (Maehr 1990).
Citrus acreage in southwest Florida has doubled from roughly
300 km2 (74,100 acres) to 600 km2 (148,200 acres). Surface
water permits for citrus have been considered or issued for
902 km2 (222,800 acres) in Lee and Collier counties by the
South Florida W Ile M.an.r,.eniel Ditlri i iPearlst;e .a.d
Kitchens 1992; Appi.\lmatel,. a ,m- m .ibAitir,. i ,,.
the proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Area for the
Florida panther lie within areas considered for permits (Figure
66). Most of the areas where permits have been considered lie
northeast of Immokalee, along Collins Slough and Camp
Keais Strand (Figure 66). As shown in Figure 66,
continued expansion of citrus areas could effectively subdi-
vide the proposed panther habitat conservation area.
Conserving the habitat areas south of the Caloosahatchee
River in Hendry and Collier counties (e.g., between Devil's






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Table 10. Species recorded within the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas proposed for Florida panther. Whether these species actually
benefit from proposed habitat conservation areas will depend on more detailed habitat analyses.


Birds Amphibians and Reptiles Edison's ascyrum
Pinelandjacquemontia
Great egret Gopher frog Ashe's savory
Snowy egret Gopher tortoise Scrub bay
Little blue heron American alligator Twinberry
Tricolored heron Florida scrub lizard Pygmy fringe-tree
White ibis Sand skink Hairy jointweed
Glossy ibis Eastern indigo snake Scrub plum
Wood stork South Florida rainbow snake Coastal vervain
Southern bald eagle Tampa vervain
Short-tailed hawk Florida lantana
Crested caracara Plants Britton's bear-grass
Florida sandhill crane Powdery catopsis
Florida burrowing owl Narrow-leaved caroline Fuch's bromeliad
Red-cockaded woodpecker Wedge-leaved button-snakeroot Cow-hored orchid
Florida scrub jay Scrub holly Night-scented orchid
Florida grasshopper sparrow Curtiss' milkweed Delicate ionopsis
Florida gay-feather Tiny orchid
Mammals Paper-like nail-wort Ghost orchid
Nodding pinweed Bird's nest spleenwort
Florida black bear Pine pinweed
Florida panther Highlands scrub hypericum


Figure 66. Surface water permit applications within the Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas proposed for Florida panther.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


HABITAT SCORE
SCORE 1
S CORE = 2
CORE = 3
CORE = 4
CORE = 5
SCORE =6
CORE = 7
CORE =8
CORE =9
CORE = 10

100 km


Figure 67. Qualitative measures of potential reintroduction areas in Florida for the Florida panther.


Garden and Keri and around Collins Slough, Okaloacoochee
Slough, Wild Cow Island, Grassy Marsh, and Graham Marsh)
is critically important. Patches of prairie and pineland in a
triangle north of the Caloosahatchee River defined by
Palmdale, Ortona, and Lake Hicpochee may also be important
to panther conservation.
Although addressing the habitat conservation, genetic,
and human-related problems within the proposed habitat con-
servation area are the most important steps that can be taken
to conserving a healthy population of Florida panthers, anoth-
er pressing need is the establishment of additional populations
elsewhere in the former range of the taxon. Epizootic diseases
or other catastrophic events could quickly decimate the exist-
ing south Florida population (Ballou et al. 1989). Additional
populations would also help to maintain higher levels of
genetic diversity (Ballou et al. 1989).
Credible signs of Florida panthers have occurred in north-
eastern and central Florida in recent years, but it is not known
if these sightings reflect the presence of a stable population.
Areas where reintroduction of Florida panthers would likely
be most successful are large forested areas with few roads,
large conservation areas, and large private land holdings
(Belden et al. 1986). We prepared maps reflecting these crite-
ria to help identify where such areas occurred. First, we iden-
tified large public land holdings with at least 200 km2 (50,000
acres) of upland forest cover and radiated out 50 km from
these areas. This procedure emphasizes areas that are close to
established conservation areas. Public lands with > 200 km2
(50,000 acres) of upland habitat included Ocala, Osceola, and
Apalachicola national forests; Eglin Air Force Base;
Blackwater River State Forest; Camp Blanding Military
Reserve; Avon Park Air Force Range; Cecil Webb and Green
Swamp wildlife management areas; and Big Cypress National


Preserve. Forest land cover within these buffer areas (and
including cover within the conservation area) was assigned a
value of 2, and all other land cover types that might be used
by panthers were assigned a value of 1.
We next calculated an index score for roadless areas.
Large roadless areas containing > 190 km2 (50,000 acres) of
forested land cover were assigned a value of 2, and all other
roadless areas were assigned a value of 1. We also identified
large landownerships with at least 40 km2 (10,000 acres) of
upland land cover and assigned these parcels a value of 2 and
all other landownerships a value of 1. A final criterion used in
this analysis was the number of occupied homes per county
(Shermyen et al. 1991). In their review of panther reintroduc-
tion to the Osceola National Forest, Belden and Frankenberger
(1988) stressed the importance of counties around the Osceola
National Forest having densities of roughly 3 or fewer occu-
pied housing units per km2 (Shermyen et al. 1991). We used
this variable as an index score for counties. Counties with < 4
occupied units/km2 were given a value of 3; counties with 4-
10 occupied units/km2 were assigned a value of 2; and coun-
ties with > 10 occupied housing units/km2 were assigned a
score of 1.
Addition of these various maps produced a single map
with index scores of 1-10 (Figure 67). Based on these criteria,
it should be no surprise that the best potential reintroduction
sites in Florida occur around the Osceola and Apalachicola
national forests. These areas were recommended by Belden et
al. (1986). The Florida Panther Recovery Plan (U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service 1987d) and the Florida Panther Viability
Analysis and Species Survival Plan (Ballou et al. 1989) rec-
ommend establishment of six free-ranging populations that
each contain a minimum of 50 adult animals. Florida appears
to be capable of supporting at least three of these populations:


dr.*






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


one in southwest Florida (currently occu-
pied); one in the Okefenokee-Osceola region
(currently unoccupied); and one in the
Apalachicola region (currently unoccupied).
Reintroduction experiments have been initi-
ated (Belden and Frankenberger 1988) near
the Osceola National Forest; however, no
decision has yet been made to use the
Apalachicola National Forest as a second
reintroduction site.
The black bear management zones
described in Section 6.2.11 will provide
some of the habitat base needed for reintro-
duced populations of Florida panthers.
However, still larger areas will be needed to
provide an adequate base of habitat for a pop-
ulation of 50 panthers. We estimate that
4,000-6,000 km2 are needed for secure pan-
ther populations, while our proposed black
bear management zones are only about 2,400
km2 in size.
If reintroduction of Florida panthers is
determined to be feasible based on current
experiments in north Florida, an expanded
habitat conservation area incorporating the
Osceola National Forest and Okefenokee
National Wildlife Refuge may eventually be
needed to support a population of panthers in
this area. Figure 68 shows a hypothetical
management zone for this area based on the
distribution of major roads in the region
rather than on a detailed analysis of habitat.
This zone covers 4,800 km2 and, based on
data provided by Belden and Frankenberger
(1988) and Maehr I'ti'l1. ni-ht .upp.nr 311i
60 panthers. Forty-seven percent of the area
(2,257 km2) is currently in private owner-
ship. Cooperative management agreements
and conservation easements need to be estab-
lished among state, federal, and private
landowners in this area. Areas warranting
special attention are the ecotones between
forested wetlands and neighboring pine flat-
woods. These ecotones have been heavily
used by western cougars serving as part of
reintroduction experiments (Belden and
Frankenberger 1988).
If reintroduction of Florida panthers in
the Apalachicola National Forest is consid-
ered, a potential panther management zone
such as shown in Figure 69 might be needed
to sustain the population. This proposed
management zone is based on the distribution
of major roads in the area, and covers 5,350
km2, of which 36% is in private ownership.
The two habitat conservation areas shown for
potential reintroduction sites are hypothetical
and are not based on a detailed analysis of
available habitat. The areas are not included
in the final figure of Strategic Habitat
Conservation Areas.


Figure 68. Potential habitat conservation area for the Florida panther in northeast Florida. These
areas are not included in the final map of Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas.


Figure 69. Potential habitat conservation area for the Florida panther in the panhandle. These
areas are not included in the final map of Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas.






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Section 6.2.15. Florida Sandhill Crane
Potential sandhill crane habitat was identified using the
land-cover map, breeding bird atlas records, and three addi-
tional sources of information. One set of point data came
from the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, which has
processed records of approximately 40 sandhill crane territo-
ries and population centers. We digitized the polygons depict-
ing large population centers as recorded by the Florida Natural
Areas Inventory. A second set of information comes from
Dwyer and Tanner (1992), who mapped sandhill crane territo-
ries in northern Polk County. A third set of occurrence infor-
mation comes from a survey of sandhill crane territories in the
Treasure Coast region (K. Atkins unpubl.). We created a
large-radius circle (1 km) around these point data sets and iso-
lated the dry prairie, grass and agriculture, shrub and brush,
shrub swamp, and freshwater marsh land-cover types found
within this 314 ha (775 acre) circle. We also isolated the dry
prairie, grass and agriculture, and freshwater marsh land cover
in the Florida Natural Areas Inventory polygons depicting
population centers.
The breeding bird atlas data were handled in a different
manner due to the coarser nature of these data. Within breed-
ing bird atlas blocks where sandhill cranes were listed as
"confirmed" or "probable" breeders (Kale et al. 1992), we
identified edges between freshwater marshes and appropriate
upland cover types. We grouped the dry prairie and grass and
agriculture classes into a single broad class categorized as
appropriate upland cover. Next, we radiated out 250 m from
the identified edges and isolated the freshwater marsh, dry
prairie, and grass and agriculture land cover occurring within
this extended area. Sandhill cranes may venture farther away
from the edge of a marsh than this model allows for, but the
model does focus on the core areas closest to potential nesting
sites. The habitat distribution map developed using these
techniques (Figure 70) shows a concentration of potential
habitat around the Kissimmee prairie region of central Florida.
Smaller patches of potential habitat exist in north central
Florida, but they are difficult to see at this small scale.
Sandhill crane habitat may be scattered over larger areas,
so populations should be defined using higher levels of orga-
nization of smaller patches of appropriate habitat. Social
interactions may also be an important component of sandhill
crane biology (Walkinshaw 1976), and clusters of territories
are generally needed to allow such interactions to occur.
After the breeding season, for example, young cranes gather
into small flocks that wander over large areas (Wenner and
Nesbitt 1984). These flocks help birds locate new nesting
areas and may serve other important yet unknown purposes
(Wenner and Nesbitt 1984).
To estimate population sizes, we refined the initial map of
potential crane habitat by considering information on sandhill
crane home range and dispersal characteristics. We call the
first level of organization (larger than an individual patch of
habitat) a "neighborhood." Neighborhoods represent patches
of habitat that might be frequently visited by resident cranes
over an annual period. Adult sandhill cranes are relatively
sedentary (Holt 1930, Walkinshaw 1976, Wenner and Nesbitt
1984), but Bennett (1989) found a maximum linear movement
of about 2.3 km (1.5 mi) for adults in the Okefenokee
National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Juvenile birds range
over an average area of 2,130 ha (5,260 acres) (Nesbitt and
Williams 1990) and may eventually move as far as 10-30 km


Figure 70. Habitat distribution map for the Florida sandhill crane.





(6-18 mi) from natal areas (Wenner and Nesbitt 1984). We
use 3 km (1.7 mi) to set the extent of a neighborhood area
that, over the course of a year, might be visited frequently by
territorial cranes occupying an area.
The next level of organization of individual patches is
called a "region." These are more expansive areas where
cranes might interact over less frequent time periods, say once
every 2-5 years, with most interactions likely stemming from
di'per',min' icmle brJd We use a 15-km (9.3 mi) distance
to define habitat patches within a "region." Note that this pro-
cedure connects two patches of habitat that fall within 30 km
of one another.
We isolated the potential crane habitat on existing conser-
vation areas and established 2 zones extending 3 and 15 km
(1.7 and 9.3 mi) from the edge of the available habitat within
each area. This technique identifies conservation areas that
are not contiguous yet fall within a single larger region or
neighborhood. This procedure produced 9 regions and 49
neighborhoods (Figure 71) throughout the state. The regions
are numbered to aid in their identification. The potential habi-
tat available on existing conservation lands and surrounding
areas is presented in Table 11 for these regions. Estimates for
the number of territories in each region (see below) are based






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Figure 71. Higher order aggregations of potential Florida sandhill crane
habitat. Definitions for regions and neighborhoods are provided in text.
Numbered areas are referenced in the text.


Table 11. Quantity of sandhill crane habitat (in ha) supported by exist-
ing conservation areas in Florida. Subtotals are arranged by regions as
described in text and shown in Figure 71. WMA = Wildlife
Management Area.


REGION NAME CONSERVATION PRIVATE
AREAS (ha) LANDS (ha)


I Everglades 29,976 2,490
2 Webb WMA 7,003 5,685
3 Myakka SP 7,440 12,820
4 Southeast 7,829 16,290
5 Okeechobee 120 6,440
6 Green Swamp 1,938 10,240
7 Kissimmee Prairie 34,230 95.800
8 Panasofkee 395 660
9 North Region 35 10


on an estimate of I territory/447 ha (1,250 acres) (Nesbitt and
Williams 1990). The acreage of habitat calculated for both
private and conservation lands also helps to show the quantity
of additional habitat in close proximity to current conserva-
tion lands. The largest region (Region 7, Figure 71) extends
from the southern edge of Alachua and Putnam counties
south to Glades County. The numerous neighborhoods with-
in this region contain about 34,230 ha (50,650 acres) of
potential habitat on conservation lands, enough to support
roughly 80 territories. The total number of territories estimat-
ed for current conservation areas in Florida is about 200. We
conclude that current conservation areas do not provide popu-
lations of sandhill cranes with the minimum habitat base
needed for long-term security.
To outline new habitat conservation options for sandhill
cranes, we evaluated regions for their capacity to support a
population of roughly 50-80 territories. The analysis of popu-
lation viability for sandhill cranes indicated that a population
of approximately 50-80 breeding pairs has a very high chance
of long-term survival. A population of this size requires
about 25,300-40,000 ha (62,000-100,000 acres) of habitat
based on an estimated I territory per 446 ha (1,250 acres)
(Bishop 1987, Nesbitt and Williams 1990).
Only Region 7, which is estimated to have sufficient
habitat on existing conservation areas to support roughly 80
territories, satisfies this minimum level of protection. Two of
the remaining regions are not very good candidates for addi-
tional protective measures. Only a small portion of the habi-
tat available in the North Region (Area 9, Figure 71) falls out-
side of current conservation areas. This population is also
buttressed by a larger population in the Okefenokee National
Wildlife Refuge across the Georgia border (Bennett 1989)
and will benefit from habitat protection efforts described for
black bear (Section 6.2.11). Habitat patches in Everglades
National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve form a
small region, but again there is very little habitat (< 10% of
total) that is not already in some type of conservation area.
Management initiatives probably offer the best chances of
bolstering populations of sandhill cranes in these two areas.
In addition, our estimate of potential habitat in the
Everglades area, which is based on known nesting areas,
may be low because of limited coverage of these large public
landholdings by breeding bird atlas participants and other
data collectors.
Three additional considerations were made in our assess-
ment of the important habitat conservation areas for sandhill
cranes. First, clusters of territories are important in allowing
social interactions to occur, so we give some priority to estab-
lishment of habitat areas that support at least 10 territories
(requiring 4,470 ha or 11,040 acres) within the distance
defined by a neighborhood. Second, we imposed our map of
potential crane habitat over a composite map of potential
habitat for other bird species that inhabit the dry prairie and
freshwater marsh systems of central and south Florida (see
Section 6.3.6). This provides a picture of places where con-
servation activities that benefit sandhill cranes might also
benefit other rare species. Third, we also attempted to pro-
vide better continuity among some of the regions shown in
Figure 71. This consideration emphasizes habitat patches that
lie between major crane population centers. We believe this
latter consideration is less important than simply protecting
blocks of habitat, but if habitat blocks offer similar benefits






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


when measured using other criteria, the parcel capable
of providing better continuity among regions might
be favored.
The Webb Wildlife Management Area and Myakka
River State Park in southwest Florida (Figure 72) are
each capable of supporting about 17 territories. These
estimates agree with estimates obtained from field sur-
veys conducted for these areas (e.g., Bishop 1987). The
total amount of habitat on private lands within 15 km of
Webb Wildlife Management Area is estimated at 5,685
ha (14,040 acres), which could support an additional 13
territories. A total of 12,820 ha (31,660 acres) is esti-
mated to occur on private lands within 15 km of
Myakka River State Park, which could support an addi-
tional 28 territories. Conservation of habitat within 15
km of each area may establish populations that, based
on our model of sandhill crane population dynamics,
are capable of long-term survival.
There are also several large patches of unprotected
crane habitat >15 km from these conservation areas that
support other rare prairie species (Figure 72). We have
numbered some of the larger blocks to help with their
identification. The largest patches of unprotected
potential habitat that would benefit sandhill cranes and
other rare prairie birds are in Areas 1, 2, and 3.
Conservation of appropriate habitat in Areas 1 and 2
could help to enhance the continuity of sandhill crane
populations on Myakka and Webb with sandhill crane
populations occupying public lands in the Kissimmee
Region. Conservation of the large block of habitat in
Area 3 could help to enhance the continuity to sandhill
crane territories in the Everglades Region.
Current conservation areas in the southeast region
(extending south of Savannas State Preserve) (Figure
72) are capable of supporting a total of about 18 territo-
ries. A large block of habitat occurs on private lands to
the east Lake Okeechobee (Area 4, Figure 72) that
would significantly enlarge the habitat base available on
conservation lands and also potentially enhance conti-
nuity with populations associated with the Kissimmee
Prairie region to the northeast. This large block of
habitat also appears to be of potentially great impor-
tance to many other birds that inhabit the prairies of
central Florida.
Another large area of potential sandhill crane habi-
tat is Area 6 in Figure 72. Although this block of habi-
tat may not significantly enhance the continuity among
sandhill crane populations, this area represents a large
block of habitat important to numerous other rare
species. The importance of Area 6 to sandhill cranes
and other species warrants some type of conservation
action. Area 5 (Figure 72) also has many small, scat-
tered patches of native dry prairie intermixed with grass
and agriculture cover types. Due to the patchy distribu-
tion of sandhill crane habitat in this area, it seems an
appropriate place to seek conservation easements that
protect sandhill crane populations without eliminating
private use of the land.
The potential sandhill crane habitat remaining in
west central Florida (Figure 73) presents fewer options
than the previous two areas. Much of the valuable
crane habitat in this area is found just outside of major


Figure 72. Potential sandhill crane habitat in southwest Florida. The number of
species refers to an overlay of habitat distribution maps for other species that inhabit
the prairies and marshes of south central Florida. Numbered areas are referenced in
the text.


Figure 73. Potential sandhill crane habitat in west central Florida. The number of
species refers to an overlay of habitat distribution maps for other species that inhabit
the prairies and marshes of Florida. Numbered areas are referenced in the text.






CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


SPECIES OVERLAP
1 SPECIES

4 SPECIES









V.







Figure 74. Potential sandhill crane habitat in north central Florida. The number of
species refers to an overlay of individual habitat distribution maps for other species that
inhabit the prairies and marshes of Florida. Numbered areas are referenced in the text.


FP.ITIr.-, ,, NS AREAS


Figure 75. Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for the Florida sandhill crane.


public land holdings. The small size of populations
within conservation areas argues for emphasizing
the conservation of patches of habitat adjacent to
existing conservation areas. Areas numbered 1, 2,
3, and 4 would be the most appropriate sites for
expanding the boundaries of existing conservation
areas to protect sandhill crane populations.
Potential habitat in Areas 5 and 6, on the other hand,
would help to protect large patches of habitat while
also protecting other species associated with
prairies. Area 5 in Figure 73 contains a very high
density of nesting sandhill cranes (Dwyer and
Tanner 1992) that, if conserved, could effectively
double the size of the manageable population across
this larger region. In addition, the large block of
habitat shown in Area 7 could potentially enhance
the movement of cranes between this area of west
central Florida and habitat areas farther north.
The potential habitat mapped in areas of north
central Florida (Figure 74) is estimated to fall within
the same region as the potential habitat along the St.
Johns and Kissimmee rivers. However, this connec-
tion hinges on several small blocks of habitat locat-
ed on the Ocala National Forest (Figure 74). We
estimate the total habitat base available on the Ocala
National Forest and conservation areas to the north
is about 6,100 ha, which could support approxi-
mately 12 territories. Given the small base of habi-
tat and tenuous connection these northern popula-
tions have with the crane population along the
Kissimmee and St. Johns rivers, conservation of
habitat in the areas numbered in Figure 74 would
help expand the managed habitat base and also
be important to several other species associated with
freshwater marsh systems (e.g., southern bald eagles
and several species of
wading birds).
When considering habitat quantity, the impor-
tance of habitat areas to Florida sandhill cranes and
other species, and maintenance of continuity among
currently protected patches of crane habitat, habitat
areas shown in Figure 75 are proposed to offer the
best options. These areas are proposed as Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas for this species.
Conservation easements that conserve rangeland
activities can help maintain sandhill cranes in many
of these areas, but fee-simple acquisition should
probably be used to secure areas that support both
sandhill cranes and other species that are more sen-
sitive to land-use changes. The total amount of
crane habitat encompassed by these proposed
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas is 172,010 ha
(425,000 acres), enough to triple the number of ter-
ritories currently supported by conservation lands in
Florida. As important, each of the areas has one or
more of the following characteristics: (1) the area
enhances small, local populations that may not be
secure; (2) the area protects patches of sandhill
crane habitat throughout a large portion of the cur-
rent range of the species; (3) the area may facilitate
movement among all protected populations, and (4)
the area contributes to the protection of other rare






FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


prairie species. Some of the rare plants and animals
recorded within or near the proposed Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas are tricolored heron,
southern bald eagle (3 records), crested caracara (2
records), eastern indigo snake (2 records), banded
wild-pine, and Florida three-awn.

Section 6.2.16. Florida Scrub Jay
Archbold Biological Station is developing a
habitat conservation plan for Florida scrub jays
using a statewide inventory of currently occu-
pied territories (J. Fitzpatrick pers. comm.).
The new data on territory locations were not
available to us during the preparation of this
report, but we believe they would alter results
from some of the analyses presented below. We
plan to develop new maps of important habitat
areas for scrub jays as soon as the new informa-
tion becomes available. Interested parties
should contact the Office of Environmental
Services for the most recent versions of the scrub
jay maps and any new maps of proposed
Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas.
The creation of a map of potential habitat for
the Florida scrub jay involved several types of data
sets and analyses. The Florida Natural Areas
Inventory mapped Florida scrub jay locations pub-
lished in Cox (1987) and reported by other
researchers. K. Dryden and J. Beever (pers.
comm.) have mapped many Florida scrub jay loca-
tions in southwest Florida. We created 160-m cir-
cles around these point data and isolated the patches
of oak scrub, sand pine scrub, and dry prairie within
the 8 ha (20 acres) defined by the circles. Circles of
this diameter approximate the average size of a
scrub jay territory (Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick 1984,
Fitzpatrick et al. 1991). We also mapped concentration:
occurrences. A Voronoi diagram was created using the
data, and we highlighted areas where patch size defined
neighboring points was < 810 ha (2,000 acres).
Several other data sets were also used to help refine
map of potential Florida scrub jay habitat. Locations of
jays in Brevard County were mapped based on a propos
mitted to the Conservation and Recreation Lands Trust I
(Anon. 1992). Records from the Atlas of Florida Breed
Birds (Kale et al. 1992) were used to document other oc
rences of Florida scrub jays. Within atlas blocks where
were recorded, we isolated contiguous blocks of oak scr
and sand pine scrub > 2 ha (5 acres). This procedure eli
ed small patches of scrub that are probably incapable of
training scrub jay territories (Fitzpatrick et al. 1991). We
radiated out 120 m from the edges of patches > 2 ha and
incorporated the dry prairie, smaller scrub patches, and
and brush land cover that fell within this area.
The habitat distribution map produced by these tect
niques (Figure 76) shows a sparse distribution of habitat
throughout much of central Florida. General regions wt
several large blocks of potential scrub jay habitat occur
Brevard, Highlands, Polk, Marion, and Martin counties.
Fitzpatrick et al. (1991) estimated a population witt
territories would provide high chances of survival over 1
periods of time. Our analysis of population viability ma


POTErlTIAL_ HABITAT
ATLAS RECORDS
l- rm\i 1 '1 "'RDS


Figure 76. Habitat distribution map for the Florida scrub jay.


this estimate. We estimate a habitat base of 400-800 ha
(1,000-2,000 acres) is needed to support such a population, if
properly managed. This estimate is slightly larger than the
estimate developed by Fitzpatrick et al. (1991) due to varia-
tion in the quality of habitat that we estimate will support
Florida scrub jays. In addition, the land-cover map does not
provide information on the structure of scrub habitat that is
mapped. Since habitat structure has a profound influence on
jay densities (Fitzpatrick et al. 1991), restoration of appropri-
ate habitat conditions will be necessary in some instances to
establish jay populations in the range of population sizes
estimated here.
A comparison of the map of potential Florida scrub jay
habitat with current conservation areas indicates that only five
conservation areas contain large, potentially secure scrub jay
populations. A density of 1 territory/16 ha (40 acres) was
used to estimate habitat capacity on conservation areas. The
five conservation areas with sufficient habitat to sustain large
populations are: (1) Ocala National Forest, (2) Merritt Island
National Wildlife Refuge, (3) the contiguous area comprising
Arbuckle State Forest, Kicco Wildlife Management Area, and
Avon Park Air Force Range, (4) Jonathan Dickinson State
Park, and (5) Archbold Biological Station. In the case of
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Avon
Park/Arbuckle/Kicco, and Ocala National Forest, the habitat
base supports three very large jay populations each totalling
well in excess of 100 territories.









CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


POTENTIAL HABITAT
ATI AS HEC'ORDS
FNAI RECORDS
CONS. ARE AS

FiR- l 1ri1 DISPERSAL







Fg 77. S jay habitat and d Cap B g M Rsee d Gdhed B St P





Figure 77. Scrub jay habitat in and around Camp Blanding Military Reserve and Goldhead Branch State Park.


Although current conservation areas support a few large
Florida scrub jay populations, fewer than 10 potentially
secure populations exist. Conservation of additional areas is
needed to provide the minimum habitat base sought for long-
term survival. Protection of additional habitat areas is espe-
cially important since scrub jay populations may experience
periodic population crashes due to catastrophic fires or dis-
eases. These threats may place even large populations at risk
of extinction over long periods of time. These threats also
argue for maintaining a broad geographic distribution of sev-
eral populations, each > 40 territories.
There are nine conservation areas that have sufficient
habitat to support modest scrub jay populations (5-20 territo-
ries) yet fall well below the acreage needed to support a pop-
ulation with high chances of long-term survival (i.e., 40 terri-
tories). These are (1) the combined, contiguous areas of
Camp Blanding and Goldhead Branch State Park, (2) Cedar
Key Scrub State Preserve, (3) Highlands Hammock State
Park, (4) Savannas State Preserve, (5) Cross-Florida Barge
Canal Lands (Marion Co.) and Carlton Halfmoon Ranch
Wildlife Management Area, (6) Tiger Creek Preserve, (7)
Wekiva Springs State Park, (8) Hontoon Island State Park,
and (9) Lower Wekiva River State Preserve. These last three
areas are in close proximity to one another and should be
considered part of a larger population (see below).
Protection of additional habitat areas surrounding these
various public land holdings may be an effective way of pro-
viding scrub jay populations with the minimum level of habi-
tat protection desired for long-term security. While this strat-
egy may not adequately protect all important components of
scrub communities (see Section 6.3.8), it will establish a


manageable statewide scrub jay population with high chances
of long-term persistence.
To review conservation options around these conserva-
tion areas, we isolated potential scrub jay habitat that
occurred within 5 km of scrub jay habitat within each of the
conservation areas described above. We use this distance as
an estimate for "frequent" dispersal distances. Greater dis-
persal distances have been recorded for Florida scrub jays
(Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick 1984), but the 5-km distance
used here covers most of the published dispersal records for
Florida scrub jays. Note that two areas located within 10 km
of one another would appear to be connected.
The acreage of potential scrub jay habitat within Camp
Blanding and Goldhead Branch State Park (Figure 77) is esti-
mated to total 485 ha (1,200 acres), but much of it is in poor
condition. The scrub land cover mapped on Camp Blanding
consists of tightly planted sand pines that are unsuitable for
scrub jays. Even so, the area appears to have the potential to
support a stable population ofjays if it were under more
favorable management conditions. A small patch of scrub
land cover to the northeast of Goldhead Branch State Park
supports scrub jays, but few other areas exist outside these
conservation lands where scrub jays are likely to occur.
Management of scrub jay habitat on Camp Blanding
coupled with the protection of scrub land cover outside of
Goldhead Branch State Park represent the best options to pur-
sue in this region. When taken together, these actions would
protect or reestablish nearly 570 ha (1,400 acres) of scrub jay
habitat and help to secure the northernmost population of
this species.









FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


FPOjTLNTIAL HARITA
ATL AF, I LCOIDREIS
FNAj RECORDs
CONS AREAS
I ta ULrTJ Ui.-I LIhAL
t ,L -iLUI4Ii loILIZIAL


Figure 78. Scrubjay habitat in and around Cedar Key State Preserve and Lower Suwannee River National Wildlife Refuge.












POTENTIAL HABITAT
ATLAS RECORDS
i FNAI RECORDS
CONS. AREAS
COUNTY BORDERS
H FREQUENT DISPERSAL
t IMPORTANT SCRUB


... .i i.i.;i > -! ... t
1*'.-* 1 "*.;..;:. l:,^ ;? l . ^' lii;.! ^
*'**; .J : *'" ; *:, q.I;"; *iu1


Figure 79. Scrub jay habitat in and around Highlands Hammock State Park.






















320-480 ha (800-1,200 acres) of habitat is needed
to provide adequate security for this population.
The bulk of the unprotected scrb habitat
occurs to the north and cast of current publc lad
boundaries, and a larIge block of unprotected habi-
at exists between the western edge of the Cedar
Key State Reservub habitat on Cedar Key State Redgserve and
theLower Suwannee River National Wildlife Re












Wildlife Refuge The area on Shired Islad s cur-
rently overgrown (J Cox pers. obs.) but could be
scr"ub 'e s ocu .one 7 n t then










the preserve would probably offer better chances
hundred20-480 ha (8rs of s b occur within pk bouneeded
to provide adequate securityil for this p population.











esThe scbu habitat within the park s capable
occurs to the north and east of current public land














o arieaa large blocks of unpo tenti itat (..h,
100 bt) occur-just beyond a 5-km boundary. Breeding bird
atlas data indicate that much of the sb habitat surrounding
tset pontse action area is epied, iTe dta from t





tat xiss etan t the north an sut of the mCedark
duted by Archbold Biological Statione Reserve and forms the basiseastern edge of the
Lower Suwannee Ridgver National Wildlife Refuge S. Fish


and Wildlife Refuge.rvice 1992). Shred scb tractsland identified in thiscu-
restored. Breeding bird atlas data indicate that
scrubjays also occur some 7 5 m to the northeast,th
but conservation of 40+ teatories within 5 km of.


Hammoxk State Park (Figure 79), but only a few o :


ST T ENTIAL HABITAT




SNQI UENT DISPERSAL
r11 3RTANT SCRUB
























An additional 40 ha (100 acres) of scrub habitat exist within 2


ovation of an additional 325-486 ha (800-1,200 acres) within
this larger area would provide the mTnimum levels of
protection desired
Most of the unprotected scrub habitat in this larger area
occurs south and west of The current preserve Breedng bird






rare species associate ed wth scrub commutes (Fe ald

other plants and animals in the rea. Protection of these
ras represents a top priority in efforts to enlarge the
ocur sot an eto urn peev._reigbr


CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM









The boundaries of the deauthorized
Cross Florida Barge Canal in south-
wester Marion County (Figure 81) tra-
verse an ancient dune ridge that still
contains scrb land cover and scrub
jays. The habitat within Barge Canal
lands totals about 100 ha (250 acres),
but much of the habitat consists of
overgrown sand pines that are not cur-

(1,350 acres) of habitat exists within 2
km of the current boundaries of the pre-
serve, and a total of 720 ha (1,780


ancient dune ridge and extends north of
the current boundaries of the conserva-
tion area. Florida Natural Areas
Inventory data show several records of
scrub jays and other important
resources in the area, and there are
nearby breeding bird atlas records for
scrubjays
Occurrence records and potential
habitat areas on Carlton Halfmoon
Ranch Wildlife Management Area indi-
cate a population of > 20 territories to
the west and southeast of Barge Canal
lands. Conservation of appropriate

could establish a much larger regional
population capable of long-term sur-
vival. At the very least, an additional
400 ha (1,0(0 acres) of the ancient
dune ndge to the north and south of the
Barge Canal lands should be conserved
to enhance the size of the protected
population on Barge Canal lands.
The Tiger Creek Preserve and

jays and have sizeable tracts of scrub
land cover just outside of their botald-

quently, but movement would be
enhanced by protecting patches owithai-
tat between the two areas. There are
appro imately 324 ha (800 acres) of
scrub within 2 km of Kissimmee State
Park, and 283 ha (700 acres) within 2
km of Tiger Creek Preserve. The total
quantity of potential habitat within 5
km of both areas is approximately
1.133 ha (2,800 acres), including habi-

include imponant scrub sites that were
mapped by biologists at Archbold


. '





w



~-LcV


0*-









'S


^~




ti1

/'


FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


, ,,: ,_ lTAT


SPERSAL
:I O, ,z








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


The scrubjay habitat on conservation lands in Lake,
Orange, Seminole, and Volusia counties (Figure 83) includes
several separate conservation areas: Hontoon Island State




leased to the local school board by the Trustees of the
Internal Improvement Trust Fund. The Section 16 lands




the opportunity of establishing a unique environmental edu-
h s y "'g

Hontoon Island State Park lies to the west of the Section
16landsand contains an estimated 97 ha (240 acres) of
-, ', ,' f", I lkm of





tion areas to the west. The total area of potential scrub jay


Presee ortnd of t- e The s b tat













amtwo sites. pop s
eserve (oth and east of the state par). The scrub habitat








, .. . .
, .. , ,


'Cl .
I ,










sltion by the State's Conservation and
Recreation Lands Trust Fund (Anon
1992) The Valkarna site in southern
Brevard County contains approximately
166 ha (410 acres) of dry prairie, scrubby
flatwoods, and scrub that might support a
potentially stable population of jays
(Figure 84) Within 2kmofthesite are an
additional 2,430 ha (6,000 acres) of flat-

(14,000 acres) of mixed flatwoods, oak

much of the potential habitat to the west
lies within the city imlts of Palm Bay. We
have no recommendations for the place-
ment of conservation areas in
this region.
A Voronoi tessellation of the available


Sarasota and northwest Charlotte counties,
and central Lake County that also warrant
consideration for conservation activities.


Recreation Area. Potential habitat occurs


FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


I-0 ii. HABITAT
T. RDS
,1 ,-,, _'DS
,,- ,;: %Sl) R
IIHDERI
,1 1 .. SCRUB





-,.


i


] d .i~i, "
;q,,;





', i:!:::i: H i;i,:i,4. A M : i!/ !
"- ~ ~ ~~~ir'" ": '; t ''" "",

o .': ,











on both sides of the Caloosahatchee River, and
11 th l ull[2h Ihl ..i .. .. I .l 1 . .i i .1.1
,I ,,hd . i 1- ,.. I
maintaining a broad geographic distributon of
scrubjay populations. This area is also important
in habitat conservation efforts for the Big
S Cypress fox squirrel (Section 6.2.18.).

h Glades County (Figure 85) consists mostly of dry
. praise and scrubby flatwoods with interspersed
pockets of oak scrub. Point data sets show severe
a nearby locations with scrub jays, and bleeding













shown to move regularly, making frequent dis-
b ei alas das indicate that dere are oter ara









west Chalotte counties (Figure 86) is insulanzed
psrs bja population o inLab e Couty te d scrub


jays along the Lake Wales Rid. The distance
from the southern tip of the Lake Wales ridge to
the Glades County scrub jay clusters is about 10
km (6 mi), the distance from the Glades County
cluster to the Lee County cluster is about 12.2 kin
(7.6 mi). These distances are generally greter
than the distances that scrub jays have been
shown to move regularly, making frequen dis-
persal seem uncertain.
Potential scrub jay habitat indicated by a
clusr of points in southwest Sarasota and north-


reas. Oscar Scherer State Recreation Aa sup-
ports a population of about 10-20 temtories.


some 10 k to the south near the towns of
Manasota and Venice Gardens. There ae also
numerous atlas records and occurence points
fr.m areas surrounding Myakka River State Park,
16 kmn to the northeast of Oscar Scherer State
Recreation Area. Recent banding studies con-
ducted at Oscar Scerer State Recreation Area
have shown that scrub jays may disperse among
these areas, so conservation of habi tat a s near



-..1 1 i ,,, H, .. .. o,. .
Re-ratlon Area.
In summary, several areas exist where
creased habitat protection will significantly
increase the long-term survival potential of
Florida scrub jays. We propose habitat patches


species. Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas
are proposed specifically to expand the scrub jay
populations in seven general areas discussed
above the Barge Canal lands, Wekiva River


new conservation areas are proposed to maintain


CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLWE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM











the current geographic distribution and to bring the size
of protected scrub jay populations above the minimum


Habitat Conse tion Areas may not adequately protect
all key components of Florida's endemic scrub com-
munity (see Section 6 3.8), but it will provide a mi-
mum level of security for scrub jay populations in
Florida. Management and conservation efforts should
also consider the potential threats posed by increasing
urbanization in areas surrounding all scrub jay conser-



development. Fitzpatricket al. (1991) desenbe add-
tional management considerations as well as aspects of


rounding proposed conservation areas.

Section 6.2.17. Florida Scrub Lizard
The map of potential habitat for the Florida scrub
lizard was prepared primarily from point data sets
processed by Enge et al. (1986) and the Florida Natural
Areas Inventory. We used a small-radius circle (250
m) to isolate the sand pine and oak scrub land cover
near each point We als isolated the shrub and brush
land cove on scrub soil types within 250 m of each
record. The patches of potential scrub lizard habitat
produced by these procedures a generally too small


We used a sparse density estimate of 10a to assess the
relative security of scrumb lizard populations in current conser-
vaion areas. K. Enge (pe. comm.) confirmed that densities




;. ,


Figr ,8 Daa ts used to contact the heabts dlsmbution map for the
Flo.da -b lIid.

were higher than this in suitable habitat areas. Tis figure
leads to an estimated 10 populations > 200 ad numerous
....,,. ., -I . . - . ..t. ..
, , , ,, -, ,


FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


contain. We conclude that current conservation areas provide
the minimum habitat requirements sought for populations of
scrub lizards. However, this does not imply that other ele-
ments of the scrub community are adequately protected.

Section 6.2.18. Fox Squirrels
Three subspecies of fox squirrel occur in Florida (Moore
1956, Turner and Laerm 1993). The Big Cypress fox squirrel
(Sciurus niger avicennia) occurs south of the Caloosahatchee
River and is ecologically and morphologically distinct
(Turner and Laerm 1993). Sherman's fox squirrel (S. n. sher-
mani) occupies a broad range extending north from southeast-
ern Florida to central Georgia and west to approximately
Walton County (Turner and Laerm 1993). The shermani sub-
species appears to intergrade with the niger (or bachmani)
subspecies (Turner and Laerm 1993) in the panhandle north
and west of Walton County.
The niger and shermani subspecies appear to have simi-
lar ecological requirements (Weigl et al. 1989). Potential
habitat for these subspecies was estimated using a similar
habitat model. The sandhill, mixed pine-hardwood, and dry
prairie land-cover types were consolidated into a single class
categorized as appropriate land cover (Moore 1957, Kantola
1992). The pineland land cover in the Tampa Bay, Central
Florida, Southwest Florida, and Treasure Coast regions was
also categorized as appropriate habitat since these areas tend
to consist of open pine flatwoods where fox squirrels may
occur. The pineland class on public lands in north and north-
west Florida was also treated as appropriate fox squirrel habi-
tat. However, the pineland land cover on private lands in
northwest Florida was excluded since these areas typically
consist of commercial pine plantations that are not used fre-
quently by fox squirrels (Weigl et al. 1989).
We isolated individual patches of these "preferred" cover
types, calculated their sizes, and eliminated patches smaller
than 10 ha (25 acres), an approximate home range size
(Kantola 1986, Weigl et al. 1989). A 120-m zone was then
created around the remaining large patches. Small patches of
preferred cover, and infrequently used land-cover types, such
as hardwood hammock and cypress swamp, within this 120-
m zone were included as potential habitat for fox squirrels. A
final stipulation was that potential habitat be located at least
60 m away from barren land cover, which is generally avoid-
ed by fox squirrels. This last condition produces a conserva-
tive estimate of potential habitat areas.
The map of potential fox squirrel habitat represents only
a portion of the total habitat occupied by these subspecies.
Both shermani and niger inhabit rangeland areas interspersed
with oak trees and the edges of forested wetlands and range-
land. These conditions are difficult to model using only the
land-cover map. However, the model of potential habitat can
be used to estimate the habitat provided by current conserva-
tion areas and to identify many of the remaining habitat areas
on private land.
We used a density of 0.05-0.10/ha (Kantola 1986, Weigl
et al. 1989) to estimate the security of habitat capacity in cur-
rent conservation areas. Based on the analysis of population
viability performed in Section 5.1., we estimate that secure
fox squirrel populations require approximately 2,000-4,000
ha (4,940-9,880 acres) of appropriate habitat. However, habi-
tat and population management within conservation areas of


these general sizes is especially critical to ensuring fox
squirrel persistence (see Section 5.1).
A cross-tabulation of potential habitat by current conser-
vation areas indicates that conservation areas within the range
of shermani support at least 10 populations > 200 individuals.
The largest blocks of habitat on conservation areas within the
range of shermani occur on the Ocala National Forest,
Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest,
Withlacoochee State Forest, and Camp Blanding Military
Reserve. The geographic distribution of habitat on conserva-
tion areas also extends throughout the range of the subspecies
in Florida, and we conclude that the shermani race has the
minimum base of habitat needed for long-term security.
A similar cross-tabulation performed for conservation
areas within the range of the niger subspecies shows suffi-
cient habitat to support at least two very large populations (>
200 individuals). And two populations in the range of 25-200
individuals. The largest habitat areas are found on Eglin Air
Force Base and Blackwater River State Forest. These conser-
vation areas provide an estimated 2,432 km2 (600,800 acres)
of potential habitat, which could support approximately
12,000-24,000 fox squirrels. The recent acquisition of
approximately 210 km2 of potential fox squirrel habitat in
Walton County may establish a third potentially secure popu-
lation in west Florida. However, current habitat conditions
on this site are largely unsuitable, and an undetermined por-
tion of this area may be returned to private ownership. Given
the fact that this subspecies has a very limited range in north-
west Florida (Turner and Laerm 1993) and is represented by
at least two very large populations, we conclude that it has
sufficient representation on the existing system of conserva-
tion areas in Florida.
Identification of habitat features important to the avicen-
nia subspecies focused on the pineland and dry prairie land
cover in southwestern Florida. Habitat requirements of this
subspecies are not well known (Humphrey and Jodice 1992),
but open pinelands and prairies (with interspersed pines)
appear to be a primary habitat requirement. Based on food
preference studies (Humphrey and Jodice 1992), slash pine
forests appear to be important in spring and early summer,
and the edges of cypress swamps appear to be important in
fall and early winter. However, this subspecies has been
found in many different habitat types, including hammocks,
mangrove swamps, and hardwood swamps. Only the interi-
ors of cypress and hardwood swamps seem to be avoided.
Since Big Cypress fox squirrels (as well as the other sub-
species of fox squirrel) spend much of their time on the
ground, an open understory is important regardless of the
dominant tree species. Such habitat requirements are difficult
to evaluate using the land-cover map.
Within the known range of the Big Cypress subspecies
(Williams and Humphrey 1979, Humphrey and Jodice 1992),
we consolidated the pineland and dry prairie land cover into a
single land-cover class. Individual patches < 100 ha (247
acres) were eliminated to focus attention on large patches of
habitat that might support a stable population. The contigu-
ous patches of hardwood hammock, mixed hardwood-pine,
cypress swamp, hardwood swamp, and mangrove land cover
occurring within 300 m of the edges of these large patches of
pine and prairie land cover were also incorporated as appro-
priate land cover.












The habitat distribution map (Figure 90) developed
for this subspecies shows several large blocks of habitat
in Glades, Hendry, Charlotte, and Collier counties. The '
largest contiguous patch of habitat on private land occurs i
around Devil's Garden in Hendry County, with two other R4j'
large patches of habitat occurring in southwest Collier ,o :i
County (north of Belle Meade) and northeast Lee County ...
(north ofLehigh Acres). Largeportions ofthe habitat .



Humphrey and Jodice (1992).


t is apparent that the species lacks an adequate habitat
base in current conservation areas. Only five conserva-
tion areas currently provide habitat for distinct popula-
ions of this subspecies, and the population associated
with the Corkscrew Sanctuary may be extirpated


(21%) In current conservation areas. If densities of the
Big Cypress fox squirrel are comparable to those report-
ed for other subspecies, these acreage totals imply a pop-
ulation of about 1,00-4,000 individuals in current
conservation areas.
Most of the major blocks of habitat described for the Fs1gu



bear, Florida panther, and red-cockaded woodpecker). The
habitat conservation areas described for these other species
will, to a large degree, umbrella the habitat requirements of
fox squirrels. The Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas pro-


least three potentially secure populations. However, one area
of extensive fox squirrel habitat may not be adequately con-


County ound Hicy tky Crooeek and southwest Charlott
County. This area(Area Figure 90) was also identified as
an important habitat area for the Florida scrb jay (Section
6.2.16). Because ofits importance to these two unique com-
ponents of Florida's biological diversity, a Strategic Habitat




management condioons.

Section6.2.19. GopherTortoise
Although gopher tortoises occur in a variety of disturbed
and natural areas, our model of potential gopher tortoise habi-
tat emphasizes patches of "natural" habitat that have the
capacity to support persistent populations. We isolated xeric
laod-cover types (sandhill, oak scrub, and sand pine scrub) in
which gopher tortoises might occur. We also Imposed a map
of xeric soils over other land cover types (pineland, dry
prairie, and mixed-hardwood pine) and added these to the map
of xeric land-cover types to create an initial map of potential
gopher tortoise habitat.


r90 Potntil habitat d prposed Strategi Habitt Con- -,uon Area for
--rmna subspecies of fox qu-l.


This initial map was then refined by identifying contigu-
ous patches of appropriate land cover and eliminating patches
< 20 ha (50 acres). This minimum size enterion resulted in
moderately sized blocks of potential gopher tortoise habitat
that have the potential of supporting stable populations (Cox
et al. 1987). We then generated a 60-m zone surrounding
these larger blocks of potential habitat and incorporated the
smaller patches of potential habitat found within this distance
and eliminated initially because of their small sizes. In the
end, this model produces a map of moderately sized patches
of potential gopher tortoise habitat and smaller patches of
potential habitat that occur within 60 m of larger patches.
We used a density estimate of 3/ha (Cox et al. 1987) to
determine the base of habitat provided by current conservation
areas in Florida. There are an estimated 93 conservation areas
with sufficient habitat to support populations > 200 individu-
als. While we do not believe that adequate protection is nec-


populations of tooises in order to survive, we conclude that
the current system of conservation areas in Florida provides
the minimum level of habitat protection required to maintain
gopher tortoises.

Section 6.2.20. Limpkin


occurrences reported ton the Atlas of Florida Breedmg Bitds
(Kale et al. 1992). A small-radius circle (250 m) was generat-
ed around occurrence records stored by the Florida Natural
Areas Inventory. Within the area defined around point data,
and in atlas blocks where himpkins were recorded as "proba-


FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION












ble" or "confirmed" breeders, forested wetlands and
freshwater marshes were isolated and contiguous
patches larger than 2 ha (5 acres), an estimated terrin-
tory size (Bryan 1982), were identified. The map of
potential habitat (Figure 91) indicates that limpkins
are widely distributed throughout the peninsula, but


kln habitat (Figure 91) are found in the Everglades,
along much of the St. Johns River south of Lake
lily .88.8 1, y., ... .-- .. I__

tity of habitat in many areas due to our reliance on
known occurrence information.
Bryan (1982) estimated territory size for two
populations in north Florinda. Territory size at

_ ..y ..d..d....I ,., ,., 1 .1... -
size may vary greatly from year to year in relation to
prey abundance and availability and social phenome-
na. The territory sizes estimated by Bryan (1982)
also come from riverine areas bordered by forested
wetlands. Territory size in more open and scattered


(1982) for forested wetlands. Hamel (1992), for
example, reported a density of I territory per 40 ha in
an Everglades marsh system.


open wetland systems to isess habitat capacity in



in current conservation areas. Most(76%) of the potential
habitat on conservation lands consists of open wetland types.
., p..... ..p..-..I. C.. h..- I -.

tion of potential habitat among contiguous management areas


nies), and > 30 imperiled populations (< 25 territories). The


water onservation areas, Big Cypress National Preserve,
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, and Loxahatchee National
Wildlife Refuge), water management district lands along the


National Wildlife Refuge and Cross-Florda Barge Canal
lands), and water management district lands along the upper
St. Johns River.


However, the species is probably more secure than other
species estimated to share this status. Limpkins disperse



enhances movement among conservation areas. Llmpkins
also appear to have a large total population size on conserva-


SHabita diibution map for se limpkin



so, the conservation of additional harit .at.ar.. ees.s w-
ranted and would enhance the security of the statewide popu-
lation. Furthermore, the conservation of limpkrn habitat can


habitat protection.
Our evaluation of important habitat areas on private
lands takes three considerations into account. First, we con-
sider the possibilities of expanding the habitat base available


h .1.11.. I 1h Ibl. 19. a
secure populations (> 100 territories). Second, we also look
at potential habitat areas that occur some distance away from
protected populations. This evaluation helps to expand the



current conservation lands with concentrations of breeding
bird atlas records. Concentrations of atlas records might indi-






servation areas are Aucilla Wildlife Management Area and
,, .


CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM







FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


FIgu- 92. Limpkn hab-at near St Mar-k Nanonal Wildh fe Refuge, Wakull County

nearby water management district lands in the Green Swamp potential habitat in Sumter, Hemando, and Citrus counties.
(Lake, Pasco, Polk, and Sumter counties), Flying Eagle ,- ,9h I I I h
Wildlife Management Area (Citrus and Sumter counties) -
Carlton Halfmoon Ranch Wildlife Management Area. .



Several large blocks of potential habitat occur outside




population covering all three managed areas The quantity
T 90 ". ,,,,; 9,: . ,



-. ,1 .. ,

Much of the potential habitat found south of Wakulla
Springs State Park is being developed.
Limpkin habitat associated with wetland areas I om-
prising the Green Swamp, Withlacoochee and .l
Hillsborough rivers, and lakes Tsala Apopka and

e9 ....e . a..... o fa ,'-o- pop- 9pnt .. W m


These2conservation areas form par9 of a large regional pop- F9u9 9 93. Llmpkm habitat along the Wllc9h2fal ,ver III Ciru, Hemndo,
ulatlon and provide a total of 50 km2 (12,350 acres) of P-IIo, d Sum-er cunt.c





CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


Unprotected limpkin habitat (Area 1, Figure 93) to the
west of Lake Hams (Lake Denham) totals to about 30 km2
(7,410 acres).
Limpkin habitat surrounding the Tosohatchee State
Reserve (Figure 94) in Orange County extends east and
south over a very large area and is contiguous with water
management district lands beginning at Lake Poinsett and

State Reserve, but the total area of herbaceous and forested
wetlands surrounding Tosohatchee State Reserve is 190 km2
(46,930 acres)
The largest block of unprotected habitat near J. W.
Corbett Wildlife Management Area (Figure 95) lies to the
southeast around Loxahatchee Slough, a portion of which is


management district lands around Loxahatchee Slough.

regional population.

pate land. The largest block of uprotectd habitat is
private lands. The largest block of unprotected habitat is


:i- i 'a-


Figure 94 Ltmpki habitat near TosohatchS State Reserve. Brvard
County,.







3 .. .. .




....... _
a
1 10


D7



I'


Ter uoi ,.-
Tf G 4i.**








FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


found southwest of this conservation area
and adds 40 km2 (9,880 acres) of habitat to
the habitat base available on this conser-
vation area
To evaluate habitat conservation options
in geographically distinctive areas (with the
rationale being to maintain a broad geograph-
ic distribution of conservation areas), we
searched the area 30 km beyond the limpkin


potential habitat falling outside the 30-km
zone. Only a few patches of potential habitat
satisfied these conditions. One such habitat
area is along Econfina Creek south of Gainer
Springs in Bay County (Figure 97). There are
approximately 10 km (2,470 acres) of poten-
tial habitat in this general area that could help
to sustain limpkins in the extreme western
poron of their current range in Florida.
Another large block (18 km2, 4,446 acres) of
habitat satisfying this condition occurs in
northeast Florida (Figure 98) around Durbin
Swamp and Durbin and Pablo creeks (Duval Fi
and St Johns counties). A final large area











.....:" '..







';: I. i


Figure 98 Limpkn habitat ner PabloandDurn creeks, St Johns and Dvalcounties.


gure 97 Llmpki habiat ne Econfna Creek and Ganer Spring. Bay County.








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


-..... L















Figure 99 Llmpkm habat in southwest Fonda.


(Figure 99) of potential habitat (20 km2,
9,880 acres) satisfying this condition was
found in southwest Florida around Graham
Marsh, Devil's Garden, and Collins Slough
(Hendry County).
Figure 100 shows regions of Florida where
limpkins were recorded within five or more con-
tiguous atlas blocks. This figure also shows cur-
rent conservation areas, which helps to indicate
some of the private lands where limplkns are
frequently recorded. There are several notable
concentrations of atlas records that were not dis-
cussed previously. Many records north and
south of Avon Park Air Force Range (Area 1,
Figure 100) suggest the importance of available
habitat in this area. Similar aggregations south
of the Ocala National Forest and along the St.
Johns and Wekiva rivers (Area 2, Figure 100)
point to the importance of these areas to limp-
kins. Another potentially important cluster of
records occurs west of Lake Okeechobee (Area
3, Figure 100).
Many of the areas identified as important to
lmpkins were also highlighted in analyses of
wading bird communities (see Section 6.3.10),
Florida sandhill crane, southern bald eagle (see


Figure 100, Regton where lmpklns were recorded withm five or more contiguous alas blocks


I''








FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


COLOR LEGEND
STRATEGIC HABITAT AREAS
EXISTING CONS. AREAS

200 km


Figure 101. Straegc Habitat Conservaton Area proposed for limpkn populaions in Flonda


species and their regulatory status as wetlands, we propose
areas shown in Figure 101 as Strategic Habitat Conservation
Areas for limpkins Only the habitat areas described in Bay,
Brevard, Citrus, and Sumter counties were not included in
recommendations for these other species. The Strategic
Habitat Conservation Areas that provide habitat for both limp-
kins and other rare species may warrant protection through
fee-simple acquisition.

Sectic "
S ' -.
was created using the land-cover map, data points stored by
the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and results from the
-" i ,i . 1 I -l)o7 1. f < -- y,

mates of potential habitat, even when based on known occur-
rence information, must be considered tentative and coarse.
The primary habitat is inferred to be coastal mangrove
swamps (Robertson 1978), but shrub and brush, scrub, and
hardwood hammock land cover adjacent to mangrove swamps
may also be used (Robertson 1978). Within atlas blocks


100 m of mangrove land cover. We isolated similar land-
cover compositions within 500 m of occurrence records stored
by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory. The habitat patches
resulting from these procedures are generally too small to see
on a statewide map. Figure 102 therefore includes the atlas
data and point data used to construct this map
Mangrove cuckoos occur throughout extreme south
Florida and extend along the west coast as far north as Tampa
T. Ti. ,' i r i i.

Harbor, the Lower Keys, and a large region extending across


mangrove cuckoos were highest in the Lower Keys, but there
is no quantitative information available from any of these
areas to use as a standard reference.
We calculated the percentage of "protected" versus
"unprotected" habitat for the four regions described above.
Such calculations could help to estimate where additional
habitat protection might prove most effective in terms of


occur statewide with 83% found within currently defined con-
servation areas The Everglades National Park accounts for
.. . i ,








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


B
71P^


Figure 102, Haba distribution map for the mngrove cuckoo


MANGRO E C.JCOG
smrA7 c G.c HAbTA AREA'
iEXISrilN. CONi AREAM

lac kir


Fire 103 Srateg Habita Conarvatin Arepropolsed for mangnme cuckio


i.i i -i' i i J
I i l .r I.i .. 1, . .. .1


Lower Keys region has the next smallest percentage with
approximately 42% of the potential habitat occurring within




region, stretching from Naples to Miami, has the largest per-
centage with approximately 90% of the potential habitat
occurring within formal conservation areas (out of a total of
505 km', 124,735 acres).
Conservation of additional habitat areas in the Lower
Keys, Tampa Bay, and around Charlotte Harbor is important
to maintaining the current geographic distribution of man-
grove cuckoos throughout Florida Large portions of the
available habitat areas in these regions are not formally pro-
tected by a designated conservation area. Furthermore,
Bancroft et al. (in prep.) found that mangrove cuckoos were
not found in forest fragments < 2.3 ha, suggesting that contin-
ued habitat loss and fragmentation may eliminate cuckoos in
these areas. Among the three regions described above, con-
servation of appropriate habitat areas in the Lower Keys is
likely to be of greatest importance due to the number of other
rare species associated with mangrove swamps in the region
(see Sections 6.3.3 and 6.3.9) and the higher densities of
mangrove cuckoos reported for this region (Robertson 1978).
We designated the potential habitat areas outside of public
lands as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for mangrove


other species. Sixty-five occurrence records processed by the
Florida Natural Areas Inventory were located in proposed
conservation areas for mangrove cuckoos These records
included American crocodile, black-whiskered vireo, roseate
spoonbill, wood stork, white-crowned pigeon, Key Largo
woodrat, and several rare plants.

Section 6.2.22. MottledDuck
The mottled duck occurs throughout the prairies and
freshwater marshes of south central Flonda (Bellrose 1976,
Johnson et al. 1991). In past years, mottled ducks were abun-
dant along the St. Johns and Kissimmee River valleys in cen-
tral Florida (Chamberlain 1960, Lotter and Cornwell 1969),
but habitat conditions have deteriorated as a result of ditch-
ing, draining, and heavy grazing by cattle and wild hogs.


Johnson et al. (1984) provide more recent evidence of decln-
ing mottled duck numbers
Our estimate for the current status of mottled ducks on


land-cover map We selected the wet prairie and freshwater
marsh land-cover types found in breeding bird atlas blocks
I ii i r Ir ii i in-


The habitat areas important to this species are not ade-
quately protected by current conservation lands in Florida.








FLORIDA GAME AND FRESH WATER FISH COMMISSION


Although we estimate that there are five insecure (50-200) and


ing the statewide population as a single panmictic population
As such, the current population on conservation areas is esti-



conservation of additional habitat areas is warranted.
Conservation lands managed by the St. Johns River Water
Management Distict in Indian River County, the Corbett
Wildlife Management Area, Lake Okeechobee, and the Water
Conservation Areas currently appear to support the largest
habitat area for mottled ducks on public lands. To identify the
important habitat areas on private lands, we utilized mottled
duck survey data collected from 1987-1990 (see Johnson et al
1991). These surveys include estimates of the number of mot-
,. I I ,-,",,I I i
104) to estimate the density of mottled ducks across the sur-
vey area, and a Voronoi tessellation was constructed and
reclassified to show areas where high densities and frequent
occurrences were observed Areas with densities of four or
more ducks per point, and Voronol polygons < 810 ha (2,000
acres), were classified as frequent high-use regions. The
resulting map of high-use regions is shown in Figure 105.
The more important areas appear in Okeechobee, Hendry,
DeSoto, Glades, and Osceola counties (Figure 105). Most
of the regions fall outside the boundaries of current
conservation lands.
Important mottled duck habitat conservation areas on pri-


areas outside of public ownership. We also incorporated agri-
cultural land cover within 200 m of the boundaries of the wet
prairie and marsh land-cover types in an effort to estimate



from established wetlands following major rainfall events (P.
Gray pers. comm.), the coarseness of the grassland and agri-
culture land-cover class forced us to use the more conserva-
tive distance of 200 m to estimate the distribution of mottled
duck habitat. Elevation data, which are needed to estimate


was performed.


(114,000 acres). These areas fall within the frequent high-use
areas and include wet prairie and freshwater marsh habitats,
and some dry prairie and rangeland We estimate that these
areas will increase the size of the manageable population by at
least 400-600 individuals. Other rare species that would bene-
fit from these proposed management zones are Audubon's
crested caracara (portions of five territories), wading bird
colonies that include little blue heron, great egret, anhinga,
and wood stork; and bald eagle (one nest record).
Mottled duck habitat conservation and management with
in these areas should focus on the conservation of freshwater
marshes, dry prairie, and rangeland cover (Johnson et al.
1991). Agncultural land uses such as cattle grazing and rice


3 <

A'6.

Mi e




E25 2J
**0




11 1
A25 21
Sa m



u k


Figure 104 Abundance of mouled ducks in south central Flonda as estmat
ed am transect sun eys prfo-ed by he Florda Game and Fresh Water
Fish C-allnon


I'~


Figure 105 Areas with high abundances and frequent sightngs of
mnotlcd ducks








CLOSING THE GAPS IN FLORIDA'S WILDLIFE HABITAT CONSERVATION SYSTEM


. .-- t


Figure 06 Strategic Hbnait Conaervatlon Ares for the motedduck


production may be compatible with mottled duck habitat con-
servation (depending on the intensity of the activity). Steps
to restore mottled duck habitat on agricultural lands sur-




Kissimmee and Upper St Johns river basins.
Section 6.2.23. Pine Barrens Treefrog



Inventory, survey information provided by P. Moler refer-
enced to quarter sections (65 ha, or 160 acres) of the town-

rence records mapped by the Florida Natural Areas
Inventory Within these circles and the quarter sections with
i .- .1 .-1 i i i i i i
Ti, I, i i s i r ir i B
River State Forest provide the largest blocks of habitat on
existing conservation areas with totals of 1,277 ha (3,154
acres) and 1,119 ha (2,763 acres), respectively. These
acreage estimates are likely low since the survey data used to
define potential habitat were not exhaustive (P. Moler pers
comm.). An estimated 72% of the available habitat occurs in
conservation areas


91 ^ 1- 1 Vr:)TE'MliLc irT.i
-i E;,. '* *


is ', n .---'





S'
::. ." ..- .


.-:-_ 'i-a -


Figure 107 Habli disnbulon map for the pine baens irefrog.


---..Ji

-~~,




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