Citation
Population dynamics of the round-tailed muskrat (Neofiber alleni) in Florida sugarcane

Material Information

Title:
Population dynamics of the round-tailed muskrat (Neofiber alleni) in Florida sugarcane
Creator:
Lefebvre, Lynn Walsh, 1949- ( Dissertant )
Kaufman, John H. ( Thesis advisor )
Lanciani, Carmine A. ( Reviewer )
Ewel, Katherine C. ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1982
Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 204 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Canes ( jstor )
Ditches ( jstor )
Embryos ( jstor )
Female animals ( jstor )
Juveniles ( jstor )
Prairies ( jstor )
Rats ( jstor )
Reproduction ( jstor )
Shoots ( jstor )
Sugar cane ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Zoology -- UF
Muskrat -- Florida ( lcsh )
Neofiber alleni ( lcsh )
Sugarcane -- Diseases and pests -- Florida ( lcsh )
Zoology thesis Ph. D
Miami metropolitan area ( local )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Florida

Notes

Abstract:
The round-tailed muskrat ( Neofiber alleni ) is one of several species of rodents reported to damage sugarcane in south Florida. Information on this microtine rodent's population dynamics was needed to develop appropriate control measures and to determine if and when they should be applied. Neofiber live in burrow systems in sugarcane fields, and these systems can be readily located in recently harvested fields. Snaptrapping, livetrapping, and radio telemetry were used to study methods of population estimation, patterns of burrow system occupancy, reproduction, survival, and interburrow system movements. The sum of burrow system distances across rows, number of burrow systems trapped, burrow system density (high or low), number of burrows plugged, and number of burrows opened after 48 h were the best predictors of the number of Neofiber captured per field, accounting for up to 94 percent of the variation in observed captures. At a given time, average burrow system occupancy was less than 2 individuals. Single adult males or females, male/ female pairs, a female with 1 or 2 young, or 1 or 2 subadults were the most common system occupants. Extended families were encountered occasionally. Adult males frequently moved among neighboring burrow systems, presumably looking for mates. Productivity (number embryos + number juveniles per adult female) tended to be lower or at least not greater in fields with low burrow system densities (<10) than in high density fields (>/=15) burrow systems. The grower whose fields were studied had recently initiated a 3-year rotation, and Neofiber may be removed from fields before attaining their maximum reproductive rate. Neofiber reproductive rate or survival of young, or both, were low between May and November, the period of crop maturation. The study area's Neofiber population appears to have declined in recent years, possibly as a result of the shorter crop rotation, replanting by blocks of fields, and the introduction of mechanical harvesting. Control measures to reduce the population in this area are not warranted at this time. Surveys for the presence of Neofiber burrow systems 1 to 2 months after fields are harvested are recommended. High local populations could be effectively reduced by snaptrapping.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 128-131).
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lynn Walsh Lefebvre.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
029082748 ( AlephBibNum )
09654247 ( OCLC )
ABZ0298 ( NOTIS )

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POPULATION DYNAMtICS OF THE
ROUND-TAILED IIUSKRAT (Neofiber alleni)
IN FLORIDA SUGARCANE





By

LYNN WALSH LEFEBVRE


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN DARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1982













ACKNOWLEDGMIENTS

Dr. Nicholas R. Holler assisted in the planning of this study, in

obtaining field assistants, and in manuscript review. His advice and

insights have added immeasurably to the quality of this project. Paul

W. Lefebvre has been a devoted and expert assistant in all aspects of

the study. All of the photographs were taken by him. Dr. John L.

Seubert was instrumental in coordinating the conduct of this study as

both a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service research project and a disserta-

tion subject. The assistance and encouragement of my advisor, Dr. John

H. Kaufmann, is deeply appreciated. My committee members, Dr. Katherine

C. Ewel and Dr. Carmine A. Lanciani,also provided needed advice and

moral support.

Mary C. Pittari, a 1979 graduate of the School of Forest Resources

and Conservation, University of Florida, assisted me very caoably in

most of the field work from June 1979 through January 1981. She was

alternately supported by the U. S. Fish and wildlifee Service and the

Florida Sugar Cane League. Two Cooperative Education students, Farris

M. Maddox and Thomas E. Sheppard, also provided field assistance.

Howard I. Kochman, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, performed

correlation and multiple step-wise regression analyses on snaptrapping

and burrow system data. His thoroughness and efficiency in completing

these analyses are greatly appreciated. Howard also advised me on the

correct taxonomic designation of snakes occurring in the study area.

N. Paige Groninger assisted in computerizing data. Drs. David L. Otis








and Richard M. Engeman, statisticians with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife

Service, performed nonparametric tests on Neofiber capture and produc-

tivity data.

Stanley L. Hooks, Director of Research for the Okeelanta Division

of Gulf and Western Food Products, Inc., and his assistant Jerry Powell

provided necessary field information and assisted in coordinating my

field activities with the harvesting and cultivating schedules. They

also provided many hours of enlightening discussion about the sugarcane

industry, as did Dr. Joseph R. Orsenigo, Director of Research for the

Florida Sugar Cane League. League General Manager F. Dalton Yancey and

Dr. Orsenigo coordinated the student grant provided by the Florida Sugar

Cane League to support Mary Pittari. Information and assistance pro-

vided by Carol M. Wade, Gloria G. Mullis, Christine M. Papaneri, and

Carlota M. Francis of the League are also greatly appreciated.

The assistance of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Denver

Wildlife Research Center library staff is gratefully acknowledged.

Mary F. Layman, formerly the Center's librarian, performed a very

helpful literature search, and Ruth M. Voorhees and Nancy K. Nibling

provided requested material. H. Randolph Perry, Patuxent Wildlife

Research Center, generously provided me with bibliographic material on

Ondatra.

Jean B. Bourassa, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided most

of the radio transmitter collars. His advice and cooperativeness in

modifying the potting materials are much appreciated.

David G. Decker and Raymond E. Matteson, U. S. Fish and Wildlife

Service, provided technical assistance with field equipment, particu-

larly telemetry equipment.








Captain Donald K. Younker, Florida Department of Natural Resources,

made possible several visits to areas of Payne's Prairie inhabited by

Neofi ber.

Dr. Donald J. Forrester, Department of Preventive Medicine, College

of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, provided histopathology

analysis on Neofiber lung tissue, and Dr. Harvey L. Cromroy, Department

of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, identified mites

collected from Nleofiber.

Dr. Richard A. Kiltie and David E. Steffen provided helpful

comments on the manuscript. Discussions with Dr. Archie F. Carr, Jr.,

aided in interpreting field observations.

Last, but far from least, Luana A. Whitehead provided much adminis-

trative coordination and typed the several drafts and final copy.

Regina A. Hillman assisted in typing the first draft.

To all of these colleagues go my heartfelt thanks.













CONTENTS

PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.............................................. iii

ABSTRACT..................................................... viii

INTRODUCTION.................... ............................ 1

STUDY AREAS

Sugarcane Culture....................................... 6

Description of Study Fields............................. 8

AGE DETERMINATION

Methods................................................ 17

Results................................................. 21

POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS

Methods............... ................................. 28

Results................................................. 36

LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS

Methods................................................ 57

Results................................................. 66

DISCUSSION.................................................. 109

CONCLUSIONS................... ............................. 122

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS.................. .................... 125

LITERATURE CITED........................................... 128

APPENDICES

I COMMONLY OCCURRING PLANTS IN THE MILL LOT OF THE
OKEELANTA DIVISION OF GULF AND WESTERN FOOD
PRODUCTS, INC ........................................ 132









II POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS SHOWING NEOFIBER
BURROU SYSTEM LOCATIONS............................... .. 134

III ACTUAL AND PREDICTED NEOFIBER CAPTURES IN
36 POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS.............................. 161

IV LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS, SHOWING NEOFIBER
BURROW SYSTEM LOCATIONS ................................. 163

V BURROW SYSTEM MAPS SHOWING MONTHLY ADDITION OF
NEW BURROWS, NEOFIBER CAPTURE LOCATIONS, AND
MOVEMENTS MADE BY RECAPTURED OR RADIO-LOCATED
INDIVIDUALS............................................. 168

VI IDENTITY, SEX AND AGE, LOCATIONSS, PERIOD OF
RADIOTRACKING AND FATE OF RADIO-COLLARED
NEOFIBER IN 4 FLORIDA SUGARCANE FIELDS.................. 199

VII NEOFIBER CAPTURED OR RADIO-LOCATED IN ADDITIONALLY
TRAPPED BURROW SYSTEMS IN 4 STUDY FIELDS................ 202

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH............................................... 204












Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


POPULATION DYNAMICS OF THE
ROUND-TAILED MUSKRAT (Neofiber alleni)
IN FLORIDA SUGARCANE

By

LYNN WALSH LEFEBVRE

DECEMBER 1982

Chairman: John H. Kaufmann
Major Department: Zoology

The round-tailed muskrat (Neofiber alleni) is one of several

species of rodents reported to damage sugarcane in south Florida.

Information on this microtine rodent's population dynamics was needed

to develop appropriate control measures and to determine if and when

they should be applied. Neofiber live in burrow systems in sugarcane

fields, and these systems can be readily located in recently harvested

fields. Snaptrapping, livetrapping, and radio telemetry were used to

study methods of population estimation, patterns of burrow system

occupancy, reproduction, survival, and interburrow system movements.

The sum of burrow system distances across rows, number of burrow systems

trapped, burrow system density (high or low), number of burrows plugged,

and number of burrows opened after 48 h were the best predictors of the

number of Neofiber captured per field, accounting for up to 94 percent

of the variation in observed captures. At a given time, average burrow

system occupancy was less than 2 individuals. Single adult males or


viii








females, male/female pairs, a female with 1 or 2 young, or 1 or 2

subadults were the most common system occupants. Extended families

were encountered occasionally. Adult males frequently moved among

neighboring burrow systems, presumably looking for mates. Productivity

(number embryos + number juveniles per adult female) tended to be lower

or at least not greater in fields with low burrow system densities

(<10) than in high density fields (-15) burrow systems. The grower

whose fields were studied had recently initiated a 3-year rotation,

and Neofiber may be removed from fields before attaining their maximum

reproductive rate. Neofiber reproductive rate or survival of young, or

both, were low between May and November, the period of crop maturation.

The study area's Neofiber population appears to have declined in recent

years, possibly as a result of the shorter crop rotation, replanting

by blocks of fields, and the introduction of mechanical harvesting.

Control measures to reduce the population in this area are not warranted

at this time. Surveys for the presence of Neofiber burrow systems 1 to

2 months after fields are harvested are recommended. High local

populations could be effectively reduced by snaptrapping.













INTRODUCTION

The round-tailed muskrat, Neofiber alleni, is a relatively large

microtine rodent, intermediate in size between the voles (Microtus spp.)

and the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). The range of the round-tailed

muskrat is almost entirely restricted to Florida; it also occurs in

the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

Pleofiber is one of several species of rodents reported to damage

Florida sugarcane (Saccharum interspecific hybrids)(Samol 1972, Steffen

et al. 1981). Neofiber damages cane by gnawing on stalks and burrowing

under sugarcane rows, damaging and possibly feeding on cane roots

(Bourne in Porter 1953, Samol 1972). In 1974 the U. S. Fish and Wildlife

Service (USFWS) began a research program to define the problem of rodent

damage to Florida sugarcane. Initial studies included the collection of

population data on rodents and their damage to sugarcane in this region

(Walsh et al. 1976; Lefebvre, Ingram, and Yang 1978). The information

obtained is necessary in order to design and evaluate field tests of

control methods, which could include chemical, cultural, behavioral, or

mechanical techniques. However, these studies yielded little informa-

tion on Neofiber because it maintains a primarily subterranean existence

in sugarcane fields.

Elsewhere, the round-tailed muskrat typically is found in shallow

freshwater marshes. It builds shelters (houses) and feeding platforms

from marsh vegetation, and occasionally burrows into the mud during

periods of low water. In sugarcane, where the water level is maintained









at 0.60 to 0.75 m below the soil surface, the round-tailed muskrat is

apparently an obligate burrower and builds extensive tunnel systems.

Both in marshes and muck fields, IJeofiber appears to be colonial

(Fig. 1). Harper (1927) noted the clustering of houses within small

areas of Okefenokee Swamp prairies. Porter (1953) referred to the

interconnecting tunnels of a burrow system as a colony. Tilmant (1975)

designated a distinct cluster of houses, whether small (e.g., 5 houses)

or large (over 100 houses) as a colony in the Everglades National Park.

Birkenholz (1963) was more vague in his use of the term "colony". He

stated (p. 265) that even when all of Payne's Prairie (Alachua County,

Florida) was populated by Neofiber, ". the species existed as a

series of relatively isolated units or colonies." Steffen (1978)

referred to burrow systems in sugarcane fields as colonies under a

dictionary definition (Neilson 1959: 528) "A collection of organisms of

the same kind living in close association."

The round-tailed muskrat occurred in the Everglades Agricultural

Area south of Lake Okeechobee before the commercial sugar industry began

in 1929 (Steffen 1978). Howell (1920) identified the new subspecies

Neofiber alleni nigrescens from Ritta on the south shore of Lake

Okeechobee, and noted that its primarily fossorial behavior differed

from that of the other subspecies. The muskrat's presence in south

Florida sugarcane fields has been documented by several investigators

since 1937 (Steffen et al. 1981). Since 1974, Neofiber has been found

in abundance in several areas of the sugarcane growing region. In a

survey of recently harvested fields south of Lake Okeechobee in 1976,

Steffen et al. (1981) found that 40 percent of the fields in the

Western Division of the U. S. Sugar Corporation (13,072 ha) and 30























































Fig. 1. feofiber houses on Payne's Prairie (above) and burrows within
a burrow system in a sugarcane field (below). The clustering
of houses and burrows within groups, and greater distances
between groups, suggest a colonial habit.

3









percent of the fields in the Mill Lot of the Okeelanta Division of Gulf

and Western Food Products, Inc. (8,094 ha) had Neofiber burrow systems.

Neofiber burrows have been evident for a number of years in fields

(approx. 26 ha) belonging to Lewis Friend Farms, near Canal Point on

the east side of Lake Okeechobee (J. R. Orsenigo 1979, pers. comm.).

Modesto Ulloa of Osceola Farms Co. showed USFWS personnel several

sugarcane fields with extensive rleofiber burrow systems, approximately

10 km southeast of Canal Point, in April 1981. He reported that 93 ha

of sugarcane, recently acquired by Osceola Farms, had a large number of

Neofiber burrows.

Monthly reproductive data were collected on round-tailed muskrats,

cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), and roof rats (Rattus rattus) trapped

in sugarcane fields over a two-year period (May 1974 through April 1976)

(Holler, Lefebvre, and Decker, unpubl. data). A total of 251 Neofiber

females was examined, and embryos of 50 pregnant females were counted.

Litter size averaged 2.1 embryos per pregnant female, and potential

annual productivity was estimated to be 3 young per adult female.

Neofiber potential productivity was lower than that of cotton and roof

rats (38 and 14 embryos/adult female-year, respectively). The average

litter size of captive Neofiber maintained at the Florida Field Station,

USFWS, was also 2.1 (183 young were produced in 86 litters). Birken-

holz (1963) found a mean of 2.3 embryos in 48 pregnant Neofiber females

from Payne's Prairie.

The USFWS's present efforts to develop a control strategy for

cotton rats and roof rats are directed toward obtaining efficacy data

on a toxic bait, to be applied aerially on fields. Because Neofiber

apparently spends little time above ground in sugarcane, an aerially






5


applied bait would probably be ineffective for control of this species.

Several aspects of Neofiber population dynamics needed investigation

to determine if and when control is needed, and what methods might be

most effective. The study described here was designed to determine 1)

the number, sex, and age of Neofiber occupying burrow systems in sugar-

cane, 2) how system numbers and size relate to Neofiber numbers within

fields, 3) if population size can be indexed by plugging burrows and

determining the number reopened per burrow system, 4) if there is a

relationship between population density and productivity, and 5) to

what extent there is movement by individuals among different burrow

systems.

Population data are needed not only to develop effective control

measures, but also to assess the status of the round-tailed muskrat as

an endemic Florida mammal. It is listed as a Species of Special

Concern by the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and

Animals (Layne 1978). Neofiber has a low reproductive rate, which is

unusual for a microtine. Richmond and Stehn (1976) pointed out that

most of the microtine rodents can rapidly increase their numbers.

Moreover, the round-tailed muskrat's apparent dependence on a burrow-

ing existence in the sugarcane habitat may limit its capacity for

dispersal. The above factors should influence the decisions on what,

if any, control measures are needed.













STUDY AREAS

South Florida Sugarcane Culture

Sugarcane is a grass, with a mature stalk culmm or stem) divided

into a number of segments (joints), each consisting of a node and an

internode. In very young cane, before the above-ground stem has formed,

the quantity of sucrose present is negligible (Barnes 1974). As the

stem elongates, limited amounts of sucrose are stored, but near matu-

rity, larger quantities are stored. At maturity, the stalk consists

of juice (essentially a sucrose solution containing simple sugars and

starches), small amountsof mineral salts, pith and rind fiber and an

outer covering of wax.

Most of the sugarcane in South Florida is grown on organic soils

embracing the eastern and southern shores of Lake Okeechoteein the

northern Everglades. The Florida sugar industry has experienced two

growth periods, from the mid-1920's until 1962, and from 1962 to date,

with the greatest expansion in the latter period. Approximately

145,000 ha have been harvested annually in recent years, making sugar-

cane second in .rea to citrus in Florida's agriculture.

A network of irrigation canals and field lateral ditches maintains

the water level in the canefields at about 0.6 to 0.75 m below the soil

surface, although fields may be flooded occasionally by heavy rains.

Fields are generally rectangles of 8, 16, or 32 ha and are laid out in

a regular pattern, with parallel rows of sugarcane 1.5 m (5 ft) apart,








oriented north-south or east-west. Some fields are divided longitudi-

nally into halves by shallow (approximately 1-2 m deep x 2 m wide)

ditches called middle ditches or field laterals.

Sugarcane planting usually commences in late August or September

and continues until December, after the fields have been thoroughly

prepared. Plant cane, as the first crop is called, grows for 12 to 18

months before harvest, while succeeding crops, called stubble or ratoon

crops, are generally harvested after a year of growth.

Florida sugarcane is harvested during the winter months (November-

March). When the cane is harvested, buds on the underground stalk (or

stool) give rise to the succeeding growth of cane known as a ratoon

(Barnes 1974). Thus a first ratoon crop has been cut once and will

provide the second crop, the second has been cut twice, etc. The

sugarcane grower whose fields were used in this study had recently

initiated a 3-year crop rotation, so that fields were replanted after

being allowed to ratoon twice (a plant crop plus two ratoon crops had

been harvested). Other growers may harvest as many as 8 or more crops

from some of their fields, although the industry average is probably 4

or 5. The number of crops to be taken after a single planting will

depend on production, and hence be influenced by frosts, freezes,

insect damage, rodent damage, weed competition, and other factors.

The day before a sugarcane field is scheduled to be cut it is

burned to reduce the amount of leaves (trash) taken to the mill, since

these interfere with the recovery of sucrose from the stalks. Leaf

removal is also necessary for hand cutting of cane.

Cutting of the cane is accomplished by hand with a cane knife or

by harvesting machines. These two methods result in different patterns








of trash distribution in the harvested fields (Fig. 2). Hand cutting

results in alternate windows of cut sugarcane stalks and trash (leaves,

cane tops). Each window covers two cane rows and the strip of ground

1.5 m wide between them. After the sugarcane stalks have been picked

up and taken to the mill, two rows and a strip of ground 3 to 4.5 m

wide are uncovered between trash windows. In machine harvesting,

trash consisting of partially shredded tops and leaves is scattered

more or less uniformly over the whole field. Thus the density of trash

over every other two rows in hand cut fields is at least twice as great

as trash density in machine cut fields. Steffen et al. (1981) found

that Neofiber burrow systems were more common in hand cut than machine

cut fields.


Description of Study Fields

All of the study fields were located in the Mill Lot of the

Okeelanta Sugar Division of Gulf and Western Food Products Co. (Figs.

3a-b). The Mill Lot, approximately 8 km south of South Bay, Palm

Beach County, Florida, is bordered on the east by U.S. Highway 27, on

the north by the Bolles Canal, and or the west by the Miami Canal.

A paved road and large canal divide the Mill Lot into north and

south halves. Smaller canals and unpaved roads run perpendicular to

the paved road, dividing the area into 14 blocks of 8 30-ha fields to

the north 9nd 15 blocks of 8 fields to the south of the road. Sugar-

cane rows in all fields run east-west. A buffer of at least one field

in 1979, and one half-field in 1980, separated study fields to the

north or south. Fields 22 BN and CN in 1979 (Fig. 3a) were considered

"halves" of the same field because they had no middle ditches.
















































Fig. 2. Machine cut (left) and hand cut (right) sugarcane fields
shortly after harvest.











9






















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Harvest season study fields were beginning their second or third

ratoon. In 1979, both halves of the same field were studied. In 1980,

halves of different fields were studied in order to increase the field

sample size. Most of the 1980 study fields had middle ditches, but in

those that did not, the number of rows was counted and half were

included in the study half-field. Fields were selected a minimum of

30 days and a maximum of 60 days after harvest. In 1979, all study

fields were hand cut while in 1980, 7 or 25 fields (28 percent) were

machine cut.

In both 1979 and 1980, third ratoon fields were harvested earlier

than second ratoon. In 1979, third ratoon fields were studied from 14

December to 16 February, second ratoon fields were studied from 15 March

to 22 April. In 1980, third ratoon fields were studied from 16

December to 22 January, second ratoon from 4 April to 15 May. Study

of third ratoon fields in 1980 was curtailed by heavy rain in late

January that flooded the fields.

Livetrapped study fields, which had been hand cut, were beginning

their second ratoon when selected in May, 1979 and 1980. Fields 14 CN

(north half) and 6 BN (north half) were harvested in November and

December 1979, respectively. Fields 8 GS (south half) and 24 CS (south

half) were harvested in November 1980 and February 1981, respectively.

Fields 14 CN and 6 BN both had middle ditches, while 8 GS and 24 CS did

not.

Individual sugarcane fields and areas within fields are often

invaded by many other plant species. Probably the most important ones

to Neofiber are sedges (Cyperus spp.) Cvperus spp. are common

referred to as nutgrass. Sedges, commonly eaten by Neofiber,









occurred in most of the study fields and Neofiber burrow systems fre-

quently occurred in portions of fields covered with sedges. A few

fields were literally carpeted by sedges, such as 6 DN studied in 1979,

which was also riddled with Neofiber burrow systems. The association

between sedges and rIeofiber was not universal, but it has been observed

in other growers' fields.

Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) was found on canal and middle ditch

banks, and fleofiber burrows were sometimes found in patches of this

grass. Maidencane was not observed in fields. Fall panicum (Panicum

dichotomiflorum) was abundant in one of the burrow systems in 1i C!.

Many other plants were common in the study area, both in fields and on

ditchbanks (Appendix I).

Several other small mammals occupy Neofiber burrow systems in

sugarcane fields: cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus), roof rats (Rattus

rattus), and rice rats (Oryzomys palustris). Rabbits (Sylvilagus

palustris and S. floridanus) inhabited fields and ditchbanks, and

occasionally enlarged reofiber burrows for shelter. House mice (Mus

musculus) were occasionally seen and rarely trapped in the study fields,

and it is not known if these rodents ever inhabit Neofiber burrows.

M. musculus were trapped from their own distinctive burrows in sugar-

cane fields outside of the study area.

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) were probably the only significant mammalian

predator of Neofiber in the study area. Several were seen during the

day, their scats and footprints were commonly seen on field edges, and

scats were occasionally found in or near burrow systems. Feral house

cats (Felis domesticus) were rarely seen and their scats and footprints

were not observed.







Raccoons (Procyon lotor), otters (Lutra canadensis), opossums

(Didelphis virginiana), and armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) were

also known to occur in the study area.

Barn owls (Tyto alba) and northern harriers (marsh hawks, Circus

cyaneus) were probably the major avian predators of Neofiber in the

study area. Marsh hawks migrate through the sugar growing region

during the harvest season, when Neofiber burrow systems, exposed by

harvest, are most vulnerable to an avian predator. Burrowing owls

(Athene cunicularia) were observed nesting in old Neofiber burrows and

may prey upon young muskrats. Common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) and

cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) may prey upon injured or disoriented

Neofiber after harvest. Numerous shorebirds and waterfowl were seen

in the study area, particularly during the harvest season, when fields

flooded with water discharged from the mill attracted migrating flocks.

Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) and great egrets (Casmerodius albus)

were common in all seasons; both have been observed hunting Neofiber

on Payne's Prairie, Florida (Donald K. Younker, pers. comm.). Several

rodents, including thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus

tridecemlineatus), Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), and prairie

pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius), have been reported as prey items of

great blue herons (Peifer 1979).

By far the most commonly encountered snakes in canefields were

king snakes (Lampropeltis getulus). King snakes were several times

observed to enter or exit Neofiber burrows. Microtine rodents

(Microtus ochrogaster) were found to be the most important food item of

the prairie kingsnake (Lampropeltis calligaster), making up 48% by








volume of its diet (Fitch 1978). Rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta) were

less frequently seen. Ribbon snakes (Thamnophis sauritus), water

snakes (Nerodia spp.)and cottonmouths (Aqkistrodon piscivorus) occurred

on ditch banks. Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) and softshell

turtles (Trionyx ferox) occasionally were seen in canals. Alligators

prey upon Ondatra in Louisiana when muskrats are abundant (Valentine

et al., 1972). Alligator gar (Lepisosteus spatula) and largemouth bass

(Micropterus salmoides) also inhabited canals.

Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta and S. geminata) were extremely

common throughout the study area. Their nests frequently occurred in

Neofiber burrow systems, and care had to be taken not to set traps too

close to them.














AGE DETERMINATION

Methods

Known-age Specimens

Twenty-five (13 females, 12 males) captive-born Neofiber were

weaned at 18 to 20 days and placed individually in 20 x 35 x 20 cm

stainless steel wire cages. They received Lab ChowP, Rabbit Chowv, and

water ad lib. They were anesthetized with Metofane (methoxyflurane)

and measured at one-week intervals until 50-60 days old, then at two-

week intervals, until they were sacrificed to provide known-age speci-

mens ranging in age from 30 to 220 days. Measurements included total

length, body length, tail, hind foot to the nearest mm, and weight to

the nearest g on an Ohaus triple-beam balance. Reproductive tracts

were removed and preserved in a 70% ethanol solution. Testis weights

were determined to the nearest mg, generally within a month of their

collection, and seminal vesicle development was noted. Measurements

were made on 10 additional known-age Neofiber that died while in cap-

tivity, reared under conditions similar to those described above but

some were raised with 1 or 2 cagemates.


Field Specimens

Three age/reproductive classes were determined on the basis of

known-age, laboratory-reared specimens and reproductive condition of

unknown-age, snaptrapped specimens. Juveniles were defined as 530

days old, adults as sexually mature, and subadults as animals older

than 30 days but not sexually mature.

17









Mean body measurements (total length, body length, and weight),

plus one standard deviation (SD), of known-age juveniles were used as

criteria to establish the upper boundary for the juvenile category for

snaptrapped specimens.

Preserved uteri from snaptrapped specimens were examined at 10-20X

for placental scars and to check counts of embryos made in the field.

Nonpregnant females were classified as parous if the uterus had at

least one scar (Fig. 4). Sexually mature snaptrapped females were

defined as those having embryos or placental scar(s).

Preserved testes were weighed to the nearest mg on a Mettler PIN

163 balance. The frequency distribution of field specimens' average

testis weights was used to determine the boundary between adult and

subadult testis weight.

Since it was noted that most males had either well-developed

seminal vesicles dilated with fluid, or small, empty seminal vesicles

(Fig. 5), seminal vesicle development was used to classify males with

average testis weights close to the adult/subadult boundary, adults

having dilated vesicles and subadults undilated or very slightly

dilated vesicles.

Mean body measurements (total length, body length, and weight)

minus or plus one standard deviation for adult male (-1 SD), adult

female (-1 SD), and juvenile (+1 SD) snaptrapped specimens were used to

determine upper and lower boundaries for the subadult category of live-

trapped specimens. If any 2 of the 3 measurements exceeded or fell

below a category boundary, the muskrat was classified accordingly. If

reproductive condition of livetrapped specimens was evident (obviously

pregnant or post-partum females, scrotal testes in males, or information








































'II I I 7 1 1 1 1 7 I I I I I II I l II l I I II II II 11
raM ,I III IiI 'I" ''- 01 -I 1'-I '11= 1 10 1 a

IVANSORIVALL INc.
( iicals 1 2 3
I I 1 1 2 1 . I .. I . I. I I .


Fiq. 4. Uteri of parous, nonpregnant (above) and nulliparous (below)
Neofi ber.



























i i.

C-11 CIL..0
IVANSORVALL INc. w

", .- , . . I .i I


... .i-- -- ... .... ..-... .*1: iIi 4LJ 4" I J l.JJ J I | '1 1 .1 I 1 ..11
- 1 4 5J I9 i8 .

.. .. .. .. .. .. .....- ... i, i ij.r I ... ... ..

I VASO F A -LL INC ra,o,AL..L Co.,.r. C,
.., 3 1


Fig. 5. Reproductive tracts of immature (above) and mature (below)
male Neofiber. Arrows indicate seminal vesicles.









from necropsies) it took precedence over body measurements in classify-

ing sexually mature muskrats; less than 5 percent of the field specimens

were classified on the basis of reproductive condition alone.


Results

Because mean body length, weight, and total length did not differ

significantly for male and female known-age juveniles (P>0.10), the

combined-sex mean measurements plus 1 SD were used as the upper boundary

for the juvenile category (Table 1). If any 2 of these 3 measurements

from an unknown-age individual equalled or were lower than the values

given in Table 1 for known-age Neofiber, the individual was classed as

a juvenile.

Almost all snaptrapped males with an average testis weight below

200 mg showed very little development of the seminal vesicles. Also,

the relatively low incidence of specimens with average testis weights

between 100 and 200 mg (Fig. 6) made 200 mg a logical breaking point

that would result in minimal classification error. Thus males with an

average testis weight 200 mg were considered to be adults. Snap-

trapped females carrying embryos or with uterine scars indicating

previous pregnancy were considered to be adults. Mean weight, total

body length, and body length, minus 1 SD, of field-trapped sexually

mature Neofiber (Table 2) were used to determine the adult/subadult

boundary for both snaptrapped and livetrapped individuals. Sexually

mature males and mature, nonpregnant females had nearly the same body

measurements, but not weight (Table 2). Parous, nonpregnant females

weighed significantly less than adult males (P<0.01) and pregnantfemales



















C-







S-
ro
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0-


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-o











S-
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ao
















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0




























C
r,
















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-o





















4-
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I I I I I I I I I
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Average testis weight (ng)



Fig. 6. Frequency distribution of average testis weights of Neofiber
males snaptrapped from Florida sugarcane fields in 1979 and
1980. Males with an average testis weight 2 200 mg were
considered to be adults.




















C\J C C


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(P 0.01). Thus the mean measurements of nonpregnant females were used

to establish the adult category for females.

Measurements of captive males and females (Tables 3 and 4) indicate

that 2 of the 3 adult age class criteria were satisfied at 101 to 110

days by males and 81 to 90 days by females. This corresponds fairly

well with Birkenholz's (1963) determination of sexual maturity at 90 to

100 days. Females may actually mature more quickly than males. How-

ever, the number of captive animals measured was small, and mean male

measurements at 81 to 90 days were very close to satisfying adult

criteria (Table 3). Also, mean total length and body length measurements

of known-age females between 91 and 120 days old were just short of the

adult criteria (Table 4).

Juveniles in this study were defined as being 30 days old or less,

subadults as sexually immature and between 31 and 89 days old, and

adults as sexually mature and at least 90 days old.

Eight of 11 captive males, age 90 days to 1 year, had average

testis weights that exceeded 200 mg. Two males had average testis

weights over 190 mg, and also had dilated seminal vesicles. The elev-

enth male was 91 days old when sacrificed, and had an average testis

weight of only 37 mg. Two older known-age males (435 days and 4.4

years) had average testis weights considerably lower than 200 mg.

Several field specimens with large body measurements also had low

testis weights. Possibly older and/or isolated Neofiber undergo testic-

ular regression.

Hind foot length showed too much overlap between age classes to

be useful as an aging criterion (juveniles: 34-45 mm, subadults 39-48

mm; adults 40-50 mm).


















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POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS

Methods

Field Selection

Because burrow systems are much easier to find shortly after fields

have been harvested, an attempt was made to study burrow systems in as

many fields as possible between December and April in two years.

Second and third ratoon fields were surveyed using all-terrain

vehicles between 30 and 60 days after their harvest dates. Fields were

completely surveyed by starting 6 rows north or south of a corner,

travelling the length of the field, and then making successive passes

every 12 rows, so that a 6-row wide swath on each side of the vehicle

was searched on each pass. Active burrow systems were flagged and

counted. A burrow system was considered active if it contained at

least one burrow that showed signs of postharvest excavation by

Neofiber: usually a large mound of muck (Fig. 7) or at least some moist

muck pushed out of a burrow entrance. The minimum distance between the

nearest two burrows of systems classified as adjacent but separate was

15 m. Burrows with less than 15 m between them were included in the

same burrow system. This criterion was not completely arbitrary, as

it was based upon field observations which indicated that most distinct

groups of burrows were at least 15 m apart.

Fields with fewer than 10 burrow systems per half (< 0.67 per ha)

were considered to have a low Neofiber density, and those with greater

than or equal to 15 per half-field (2 1.0 per ha) were considered to












































Fig. 7. Mounds of freshly excavated muck at an entrance to a round-
tailed muskrat's burrow system in a recently harvested
sugarcane field.













29









have a high Neofiber density. These density criteria were based on the

mean density of burrow systems (0.69/ha) found by Steffen (1978) in his

1976 survey of the occurrence of Neofiber burrow systems in fields

belonging to the U. S. Sugar Corporation, located north and northwest

of the Okeelanta Mill Lot. Fields with densities greater than 9 but

less than 15 burrow systems per half-field were generally not used,

with one exception: 16 GN (south half), studied in 1979. This half-

field had 11 burrow systems, but the whole field averaged 15 systems,

and thus was considered a high density field.

Field selection was essentially dictated by the harvest schedule.

At any given time a limited number of fields wereavailable from which

to select study fields; thus,less than optimal choices occasionally

were made (e.g., 16 GNI). In no case was a field rejected that had a

higher burrow system density than those high density fields that were

selected. One high density field and one or more low density fields

were generally studied concurrently.


Burrow System Selection and Snaptrapping

All active burrow systems in low density fields were studied in

both 1979 and 1980. In 1979, burrow systems in high density fields

were selected for study by randomly selecting 1 or 2 groups of adjacent

burrow systems. Groups were determined from field survey maps, and

contained 3 to 12 burrow systems. Two days before trapping, burrows

in selected systems were plugged by kicking dirt into the entrances,

on a randomly selected half of both high and low density fields.

In 1980, half-fields rather than %whole fields were studied. Half-

fields were stratified into quarters, and 2 burrow systems per quarter








were randomly selected. If a quarter had only 2 systems, both were

studied. From 0 to 6 additional burrow systems (generally 1 per

quarter) were also studied because of their proximity to (less than 60

m from) randomly selected systems. Field 24 FS was the only exception:

all of this half-field's burrow systems were studied. Burrows in

selected systems in both high and low density fields (except 24 FS)

were plugged in the same manner as 1979 burrow systems.

Reopened or new burrows were trapped for 4 consecutive nights

using 9 x 18 cm Woodstream Corporation and McGill rat traps. Burrow

systems in which no burrows were reopened were not trapped. The number

of Neofiber captures per burrow system was recorded, and necropsies

were performed on all Neofiber specimens. The number of embryos per

pregnant female was counted, and reproductive tracts of both males and

females were preserved.


Burrow System Mapping

In 1979, distances between burrow systems within fields were deter-

mined by pacing. In 1980, burrow systems were mapped using a Rolatape(

660 measuring wheel, rolled by hand from system to system between two

rows, or attached to the rear luggage rack of an all-terrain vehicle.

Passes were made across high density fields, approximately 20 rows

apart, with stops at the northernmost burrow in each system. Rows

north or south of the row traveled to each burrow system were counted.

The distances between the farthest outlying burrows along cane rows

and across rows were determined for each system by pacing and counting

rows (Fig. 8). These x and y distances are indices to burrow system

size. The burrow systems in one 1980 low density half-field, 34 BN,


















0
A



Y



< x 0____





Cane row V0


Fig. 8. Schematic representation of Heofiber burrow system showing
distances x and y, which are considered to be indices to
burrow system size. Circles represent burrows.








were mapped but not trapped, and in one 1979 high density half-field,

28 CN, were trapped but not mapped.


Burrow System Distribution

Study half-fields were stratified (Fig. 9) and the number of

burrow systems within each stratum was counted. The stratification

was intended to show if there was a tendency for Neofiber burrow

systems to be distributed more frequently near the middle ditch

(Stratum II), in the center (Stratum IV),near the outer field edge

(Stratum III), or in the field ends bordered by roads or canals but

not close to either the middle ditch or a neighboring field (Stratum I).

If a stratum line fell on a burrow system, that system was not counted

unless 2/3 or more of the area it covered fell within one stratum.

Most of the burrow systems were counted.


Statistical Analysis

Differences in burrow system density by field stratum were tested

for by single classification analysis of variance (Sokal and Rohlf

1969); if a significant F-ratio was obtained, stratum means were tested

using Duncan's new multiple-range test (Steel and Torrie 1960).

The relationship among year, ratoon, and Neofiber density on total

captures per burrow system was analyzed by SASI/ PROC FUNCAT (functions

of categorical responses) which uses chi-square tests rather than

F-tests in a procedure analagous to ANOVA. Captures per burrow system






1/ Statistical Analysis System (Helwig and Council 1979).



























.CD
CJ





L3







-- -







-'0



Eu
0 S
: ,






1n 0.1
"---"0













o
.r-




*0





Lo
>,




-







C) -1LA ,--

U- 0 0


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=01

















.33 c)

LL








were categorized as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or >5. Two models were fitted to

the data. The first model included the 3 main effects and all 4

possible interactions of the main effects; the second included the 3

main effects and only 1 significant interaction term.

An exploratory testing procedure was used to determine if differ-

ences in Neofiber productivity were related to year, ratoon, or density.

A Kruskal-Wallis one-way layout test (Sokal and Rohlf 1969) was per-

formed on each of 7 combinations of the data to test the main effects

and interactions. Although it is possible to encounter significant

test results by chance when multiple comparisons are made, the conser-

vativeness of the nonparametric procedure should alleviate this problem.

The effect of burrow plugging on Neofiber captures in 1979 was

analyzed by the SAS MRANK procedure, which is used to test nonpara-

metric hypotheses about the relationship between a set of independent

variables and a set of dependent variables. The effect of covariates,

such as burrow system size (x and y), could be eliminated. For each

hypothesis tested, MRANK prints a chi-square statistic and the proba-

bility of obtaining a larger value.

The 36 half-fields in which burrow systems were plugged before

trapping (12 in 1979 and 24 in 1980) were used to determine which

variables best predicted the number of Neofiber trapped in these fields.

Pearson correlation coefficients (Sokal and Rohlf 1969) were obtained

for 10 independent variables per field: number of burrow systems,

burrow systems trapped, burrows plugged (= total number burrows in

trapped systems), burrows opened, sum of the x-dimensions, sume of the

y-dimensions, sum of the trap effort (number of traps x number of nights

trapped), year, ratoon, and density (high or low) of burrow systems.









Linear regression was performed to determine the best 2-, 3-, 4-

10 variable models. One 2-variable and one 4 variable model were

selected for forward solution, stepwise regression. Predicted Neofiber

captures with prediction intervals for each field and distribution and

plots of residuals (deviations of observed from estimated values) were

also obtained. These analyses were all completed through the use of

SAS.


Results

Burrow System Distribution

High Density Fields

Burrow system density did not differ significantly among Strata II,

III, and IV, (P> 0.05). However, their density in Strata II and IV was

significantly greater (P <0.05) than in Stratum I (Table 5). Further-

more, no field had a very high density of burrow systems (_3 per ha)

in Stratum III, and a lower density in both II and IV. When Stratum

III had very high burrow system density, one or both of Strata II and

IV had very high densities (e.g., fields 6 DN, 34 CN-N, and 32 EN-N,

Appendix II).

Stratum I burrow system density appeared to have the least reliable

relationship with overall field density, which may be related to the

small size of this stratum. Eight of the 20 high density fields (40

percent) had no burrow systems in Stratum 1, and some of these 8 fields

had very high burrow system densities (>3 burrow systems oer ha' in

other strata (e.g., 26 DN-II, Appendix II).








Table 5. Mean number of Fleofiber burrow systems per hectare in 4 strata of
half-fields with high burrow system densities. Two of the 3 2nd
ratoon 1980 fields had no middle ditches, and thus no Stratum II.
These half-fields were not included in testing for differences
between half-field means.


Half-fields N Ia/ II III IV

7 SE X SE X SE X SE

3rd-b*1979 5 1.02 0.63 1.32 0.33 0.96 0.18 1.67 0.22

2nd.1979 6 1.25 0.67 3.38 0.81 2.38 0.78 2.73 0.57

3rd-1980 5 1.42 0.22 3.42 0.61 2.46 0.40 2.84 0.82

2nd-1980 3 1.40 0.84 1.13 0.54 1.60 0.40


All/ 17 1.16d 0.30 2.71ef/ 0.40 1.87df 0.34 2.43ef/'0.32


Stratum
Stratum
Stratum
Stratum


I = center of field ends
II = third of field near middle ditch
III = third of field near outer field edge
IV = field center


/ratoon

SMeans that do not share at least one letter in their superscript differed
significantly from each other (P<0.05; Duncan's new multiple-range test
[ Steel and Torrie 1960]).









Low Density Fields

There was no significant difference in burrow system densities

among strata in the 23 half-fields with middle ditches (P> 0.05)

(Table 6). Seven fields had no middle ditch. A low proportion (20

percent) of all 30 low density half-fields had burrow systems in

Stratum I, 57 percent had systems in Stratum IV, 73 percent in Stratum

III, and 70 percent (16 of 23) in Stratum II. In no field were there

burrow systems in all 4 strata, and in 17 fields (57 percent), burrow

systems were restricted to 1 or 2 strata.


Neofiber Captures per Burrow System

A total of 551 Neofiber was captured in 262 of 351 burrow systems

trapped. Thus there was an overall average of 2.1 Neofiber captured

per burrow system with at least 1 Neofiber capture, and an average of

1.6 leofiber captured per burrow system trapped. The range in captures

was 0 to 10 per burrow system. Undoubtedly Neofiber were present but

not trapped in some burrow systems. It is also possible that Neofiber

had abandoned some systems before the systems were trapped, or that

they were trapped in another burrow system (i.e., some Neofiber may

have visited more than one burrow system within the study period of a

given field).

In 10 systems that appeared to be active when plugged (4 in 1979,

6 in 1980), no burrows were reopened and no new burrows appeared in

48 h. Nine of these systems were relatively small (2 to 10 burrows,

: = 4.3). One system had 24 burrows. These systems were not trapped.

Burrow system density was the only single factor determined to be

correlated with the number of Neofiber captured per burrow system








Table 6. Mean number of Neofiber burrow systems per hectare in 4 strata of
half-fields with low densities of burrow systems.



Half-field N I- II III IV
X SE X SE X SE SE

3rdb-1979 6 0.05 0.05 0.34- 0.09 0.22 0.80 0.21 0.04

2nd-1979 6 0.20 0.20 0.42 0.05 0.50 0.21 0.05 0.05

3rd-1980 8 0.45 0.32 0.50 0.18 0.22 0.10 0.42 0.10

2nd-1980 10 0.24 0.16 0.22d/ 0.14 0.40 0.07 0.26 0.14


All 23 0.26 0.13 0.39 0.07 0.34 0.07 0.25 0.06


a/ Stratum I = center of field end


Stratum
Stratum
Stratum


II = third of field near middle ditch
III = third of field near outer field edge
IV = field center


" ratoon

/ N = 4; 2 fields had no middle ditch.

/ N = 5; 5 fields had no middle ditch.








(P = 0.001),and the ratoon x: year interaction was also significant P =

0.012). In 1979, average captures per burrow system were lower in the

third than in the second ratoon, whereas in 1980, captures per system

were slightly greater in the third than in the second ratoon. Overall,

burrow systems in high density fields yielded an average of 1.75

Neofiber each, whereas systems from low density fields yielded an aver-

age of only 1.20 Neofiber each (Table 7).

The pattern of Neofiber captures per burrow system in low and high

density fields differed primarily in the number of systems with 4 or

more captures (Fig. 10). Low density fields had relatively few of these

(1 field had 1 burrow system from which 5 Neofiber were captured), and

relatively more systems from which only 1 Neofiber was captured.


Population Sex and Age Structure

Slightly more females than males were trapped (232 vs 269). The

difference in captures of adult females and males was greater: 123 vs.

100, or a ratio of 1.23 adult females per male. Deviation from a 1:1

ratio was not significant (X2 = 2.37; P> 0.05).

Overall averages of 0.62 and 0.64 adult per burrow system trapped

were captured in low and high density fields, respectively. The aver-

age number of adult females and males captured per burrow system did not

appear to differ between low and high density fields: 0.32 (38/117) vs.

0.36 (85/234) adult female and 0.29 (34/117) vs. 0.28 (66/234) adult

male per burrow system from low and high density fields, respectively.

Thus, the difference in Neofiber captures per burrow system between

high and low density fields appears to be accounted for by the differ-

ence in the number of young subadultt + juvenile) Neofiber captured per








Table 7. Average number of Neofiber captured per burrow system trapped, by
ratoon x year x burrow system density combination.

High Burrow Low Burrow
Ratoon-Year System Density System Density
X N X N


3rd.1979 1.32 60 0.91 22

2nd-1979 1.78 64 1.38 26

3rd-1980 2.08 66 1.41 32

2nd-1980 1.82 44 1.08 37


Overall 1.75 234 1.20 117



























0 1 2


High Density
















3 >4


Low Density















._ n


0 1 2 3


Number of Neofiber Captured


Fig. 10. Frequency distribution of burrow systems from which 0, 1, 2, 3,
or 4 Neofiber were captured in fields with high or low burrow
system densities.


S II L .








burrow system (Table 8). A total of 259 young (1.11 per burrow system)

was captured in high density fields, whereas only 69 (0.59 per burrow

system) were captured in low density fields.

In low density fields, the overall ratio of adult:subadult:juvenile

captures was 2.5:1.4:1.0, and the average number of juveniles captured

per adult female was 0.76. In high density fields, the age ratio was

1.3:1.2:1.0, and an average of 1.35 juveniles per adult female was

captured.


Productivity

A total of 37 pregnant females (30 percent of all adult females)

was captured. Percent females pregnant was similar in the 4 high den-

sity ratoon x year combinations (28 to 36 percent), but ranged from 0

to 44 percent in low density ratoon x years (Table 9). Only 1 of 13

adult females (8 percent) trapped in 1979 low density fields was preg-

nant. Mean litter size was lower in 10 females from low density fields

(x = 1.50 embryos; SE = 0.167) than in 27 females from high density

fields (x = 1.80; SE = 0.103). However, this difference is not signi-

ficant (P> 0.05).

Mean number of embryos carried by pregnant females was 1.76 (SE =

0.09). Pregnant females usually carried 2 embryos, 1 in each horn of

the uterus (Fig. 11). Females carrying 2 embryos were significantly

larger in body length (x = 197 mm) than females carrying 1 embryo (x =

189 mm; P< 0.05).

Since the number of embryos per female was small (usually just 1

or 2), an index was used in testing for correlation of ratoon, density,

and year with female productivity:





















S -40 9 Ci


>L CL





-0
DL








o
F n
o 00











0 -_






> .
S-


,r
*- -Q
















c II




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0
c!C-




























O 0












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4 -
0 C-










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u a



































*- --a








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-or





















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-3
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=





Q-
-0




-"O



mu


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9- C U- r- C\ 0


Ln m e- n C '.0
-c'.J C~.j C'J


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0 -i a -l r -C C\j C- -O CD



c". 0 ko '- t' '.0 rt .- -
CM Ut. c\j .0 rn 1.0 n l Ln


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Table 9. Percent adult female Neofiber pregnant and
by ratoon x density x year combination.


average litter size


Average
Ratoon x Density x Year N Pregnant Litter Size


3rd-LD-1979

3rd-HD.1979

2nd-LD-1979

2nd.HD.1979

3rd.LD.1980

3rd-HD-1980

2nd.LD.1980

2nd.HD.1980


25.0

33.3

0.0

28.6

22.2

29.6

43.8

36.4


1.80



1.83

1.50

1.75

1.43

2.00


1.76


123 30.1


Overall




















L i Ll H I 7


Number and Position of Embrvos


Fig. 11. Frequency distribution of embryo positions in pregnant
Neofiber. L = left, R = right.








n + n.
Productivity Index (P.I.) = e + j
N

where n = number of embryos

n. = number of juveniles

N = number of adult females

in each field trapped (Table 10).


Density was highly significantly correlated with productivity

(P = 0.003). However, there were also significant interactions

between density and ratoon (P = 0.012), and density and year (P = 0.023).

Density appears to have been correlated primarily with productiv-

ity in third ratoon fields (Fig. 12a). This suggests that the low and

high density third ratoon fields differed in some aspects important to

Neofiber's production of offspring, whereas second ratoon low and high

density fields did not differ. Second ratoon low density fields may

simply be fields which Neofiber are just beginning to colonize. It is

also possible that second ratoon high density fields were not as suit-

able as third ratoon high density fields for production of young. The

density x year interaction resulted primarily from a difference in

average productivity index trend from 1979 to 1980 between third ratoon

high density fields (slightly upward) and the other ratoon x density

combinations (downward)(Fig. 12b). Overall, productivity in high den-

sity fields was the same in 1979 and 1980 fields, whereas productivity

in low density fields was lower in 1980 than in 1979 (Fig. 12c).

The Okeelanta Mill Lot Neofiber population clearly did not show a

higher rate of reproduction in low density fields in the 1979 and 1980

study periods. Neofiber may, however, be capable of reproductive

compensation. It is perhaps no coincidence that, among the 4 high









Table 10. Productivity indices for post-harvest
density x year. Productivity inde =
iNo. embryos + Nlo. juveniles captured
Number adult females captured


Low
2nd

1.3

4.0

0.0


S 1.77

SE 1.13


Density
3rd

1.0

2.5

0.0


1979


1.17

0.73


High
2nd

1.4

1.4

2.7


1.82

0.43


Density
3rd

2.0

2.2

2.3

2.5


Low
2nd

0.8

1.0

1.0

2.0

3.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0


2.25

0.10


0.87

0.35


study fields by ratoon x


Density
3rd

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

0.0

0.0

0.0


1980


1.00

0.39


High
2nd

0.8

1. 1

1.3


1.23

0.29


Density
3rd

1.7

2.2

2.4

3.0

3.4


2.52

0.29


-----












1980
1979

1979 2nd ratoon

1980
3rd ratoon
C,- -- ---


C
- o 0HD





LD


1979


1980


Interaction between density and ratoon (a) and density and year
(b and c) effects on Neofiber average productivity indices.
Average Productivity Index = Number of embryos + Number of juveniles
Number adult females
captured per ratoon x year or density x year combination. LD = low
Neofiber density; HD = high Neofiber density.


2.5

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5


p


2.5

2.0


-- -0 HD
0-


1.5 -LD


1.0 ILD ---


1979


1980


2.0


1.5


1.0


0.5


Fig. 12.





Ir









density ratoon x years, the ratoon x year with the lowest average number

of juveniles captured per burrow system (second ratoon 1980) also had

the highest average number of embryos per burrow system (Table 11).


Capture Success in Plugged vs Unplugged Burrow Systems

Burrow systems yielded fewer Neofiber on the plugged halves of

1979 study fields than on the unplugged halves (1.24 vs 1.73 Neofiber

per burrow system, respectively). This difference was significant

when field to field variation was removed and when x and y (burrow

system length and width) were added as covariates (P<0.05). The x and

y values were not correlated with treatment (plugged or not plugged),

as would be expected because treatment was assigned randomly to halves.

Tests for correlations between Neofiber captures and various burrow

system and field parameters were thus conducted using only the plugged

burrow systems. Captures may have been lower from plugged burrow

systems because trap effort was lower or because plugging affected

Neofiber behavior, making individuals in plugged systems somewhat less

vulnerable to capture.

Relationship of Capture Success to

Burrow System and Field Statistics

The sum of burrow system y-dimetnsions (distance across rows) per

field (y-sum) was the single variable most highly correlated with

lNeofiber captures per field (Table 12), with an r2 value of 0.839.

The number of burrow systems trapped per field (trap-bs) was the next
2
most highly correlated (r = 0.803). Many of the other independent

variables were also correlated with rleofiber captures and with each

other. It is undesirable to use a large number of independent variables















c-1





(3)
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= = L
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in regression analysis when they are intercorrelated and observations

are small (Kerlinger and Pedhazur 1973), as in this case. Moreover,

y-sum and trap-bs are relatively easy statistics to obtain, and there-

fore are the most practical and economical variables upon which to

base a prediction of Hleofiber numbers.

When all possible 2-variable models were tested, y-sum and density

yielded the highest r2 value (0.871), and the trap-bs and y-sum model
2
was a close second (r = 0.867). Trap-bs could be obtained with no

additional effort when y-sum is obtained, and for a larger sample of

fields would probably be a more reliable predictor because density

assumed only 2 values.

The regression equation obtained using y-sum and trap-bs as

predictors is y = 0.11 (y-sum) + 0.86 (trap-bs) 1.60, where 9 = the

estimated number of Neofiber captures. The y-intercept did not vary

significantly from zero (P = 0.16), therefore the equation was not

forced through the origin. The predicted values are reasonably close

to actual values (Appendix III), with only 3 fields having large

differences in predicted and actual captures: 6 HN, 8 ES, and 34 CN.

The actual number of Neofiber captures in these fields was just outside

of the prediction interval in each case. The distribution of the

residuals was close to normal, and the plot of residuals against

Neofiber captures was random in pattern, indicating a good fit of the

regression equation.

The best 3-variable model (number of burrows plugged, y-sum, and

density) yielded an r2 of 0.903, and the best 4-variable model (burrows

plugged, burrows opened, y-sum, and density) increased r2 to 0.937.

None of the 5 to 10-variable models yielded r2 values greater than 0.944.









Therefore, 4 variables are probably the most that should be used in a

regression equation to estimate Neofiber numbers, particularly in light

of the intercorrelations among predictors and relatively small sample

size. In some instances, e.g. for research purposes, the additional 6.5

percent of variation in leofiber captures explained by the 4-variable

regression model may be worth the added effort of counting and plugging

burrows and returning 48 h later to count reopened burrows. The

regression equation obtained by using burrows plugged, burrows opened,

y-sum and density is y = 0.10 (y-sum) + 10.36 (1 [low density field] or

2 [high density field]) + 0.21 (burrows opened) = 0.10 (burrows plugged)

- 8.53. As might be expected, the predicted Neofiber captures that

deviated the most from actual values in the 2-variable model were improved

in the 4-variable model (Appendix III). The Field 6 HN estimate improved

dramatically with essentially equal actual and predicted values. The

predicted value for Field 8 ES was only slightly improved, with an actual

value still just outside of the prediction interval. Residuals were

distributed normally and their plot-pattern was random.

It may seem odd at first glance that the relationship between

Neofiber captures and burrows plugged was negative. However, this means

that for a given number of opened burrows, as the number of plugged

burrows increased reofiber captures declined. It does not seem unreason-

able that reofiber captures would decline as the proportion of burrows

opened to burrows plugged decreased. In many cases, reofiber may have

already abandoned large systems with many burrows by the time I trapped

them.

The negative relationship between burrows plugged and Neofiber

captures probably resulted largely from the influence of 1979 third

ratoon burrow systems. The burrow systems of the other year x ratoon









combinations had mean numbers of burrows that ranged from 6.1 to 13.1,

whereas 1979 third ratoon systems in low and high density fields had

means of 22.0 and 19.0 burrows, respectively (Table 13). Yet the

latter burrow systems had relatively lower Neofiber captures (Table 13).

Burrow systems in 1979 third ratoon high density fields also had

a larger mean x-dimension (22.3 m) than systems in the other ratoon x

years (6.3 to 18.1 m)(Table 13). Extensive systems that undermined

long stretches of cane row, such as the one in the center of 16 GN-N

and in the west-central portion of 14 GN-S (Appendix I), were unique to

this ratoon x year. Large burrow systems in the other high density

ratoon x years, such as one near the middle ditch in 6 DN-S (Appendix

II), contained numerous groups of burrows less than 15 m apart.

The regression equations described above could be used to estimate

Neofiber density per field, provided that Neofiber captures from those

systems selectively plugged and trapped were representative of capture

success that might have been achieved had all burrow systems been

trapped. There is no reason to suspect that the sampled burrow

systems were not representative of all burrow systems. The grower or

researcher may want to use a correction factor to adjust for the effect

of plugging burrows, i.e., multiplying the field estimate by 1.4 (= 1. 24
1.24*
















>-


E
< u
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LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS

Methods

Burrow System Selection and Mapping

After lay, the rapidly growing sugarcane hides the burrow systems,

and becomes increasingly difficult to penetrate. Thus, between May and

harvest in the late fall or winter, fewer fields could be studied.

Four second ratoon, high density half-fields (Appendix IV).

were selected for livetrapping, 2 in May 1979 (14 CN and 6 BN) and 2

in May 1980 (8 GS and 24 CS). Half-fields were stratified and burrow

systems were selected and mapped using the same methods described for

1980 postharvest study half-fields. Ten burrow systems in each of

Fields 14 CN, 6 BN, and 8 GS were selected and studied between May and

October in 1979 (14 CN and 6 BN) and 1980 (8 GS). These fields were

harvested in November. Eleven burrow systems in Field 24 CS were

studied between May 1980 and January 1981; this field was harvested in

February. Paths to these systems were maintained monthly from August

through harvest, when the maturing cane forms a tangle of stalks and

leaves. These paths (2 per study field) ran the length of each half-

field, and essentially divided it into thirds.

All burrows present in May and new burrows appearing each month

until harvest in the selected systems were staked, numbered, and mapped.

The area surrounding each system was searched to find any new burrows

within 15 m of already staked burrows. As the cane matured during the

fall, the risk of missing some new burrows in the dense vegetation was









greater. Already staked burrows were checked for fresh signs of

Neofiber excavation each month.


Burrow System Livetrapping

The selected burrow systems in each half-field were livetrapped

each month until harvest, using Japanese wire mesh live traps baited

with fresh apple chunks (Fig. 13). Traps were set at active-looking

old burrows (those found in previous monthss) and at all new burrows.

If no new burrows were found and no old ones looked active in a given

system, traps were placed at old burrows such that all parts of the

system were sampled. If no Neofiber weretrapped for 2 consecutive

months in a given system, trapping was discontinued in that system un-

less signs of activity reappeared.

Burrow systems in the two 1979 fields were split into 2 groups by

randomly selecting half of the systems on each path.(However, burrow

systems <30 m apart were always trapped on the same night.) Each

group in both fields was trapped on alternate nights for 3 consecutive

nights. All of the selected systems in the two 1980 fields were trapped

every other night for 6 consecutive nights. Thus there were 4 trap

nights per burrow system per month in 1979 and 3 nights in 1980.

Traps were set between 1600 h and dusk (later in summer than in

fall) and were checked between dawn and 1100 h (earlier in summer than

in fall).

All muskrats were anesthetized with Metofane'? on their first cap-

ture in order to measure them (total length, tail, hind foot). They

were weighed using a Chatillon 600 g capacity spring scale, and ear-

tagged with individually numbered Monel #1 fingerling tags in the right

























































Fig. 13. A Japanese live trap (Honolulu Sales, Ltd., Honolulu,
Hawaii).


59








ear. All muskrats that were not radio-tagged were also toe-clipped for

individual identification. Only the tips (just below the nail) and not

entire digits were removed. Identification numberss, measurements,

weight, sex, capture location (burrow number), burrow system, and field

were recorded for each muskrat captured. Recaptured muskrats were not

anesthetized unless remeasured. Occasionally one wriggled out of my

grasp before both toe-clip and ear-tag numbers could be read, but on

only one occasion did a marked individual escape before either number

was determined. Neofiber were handled and released at the capture

sites.

Some of the study fields were live- or snaptrapped following har-

vest. Burrow systems in 14 CN were trapped 5 nights immediately after

harvest in November 1979 and 6 nights in December. This field was re-

examined for signs of Neofiber activity in April 1930, and several old

systems were trapped 7 nights in April. Field S GS was trapped 2

nights immediately after harvest in early November 1980, and 6 nights

later in November; it was flooded with water discharged from the mill

in early December. Field 6 BN was trapped 4 nights just before harvest

in November 1979, but was plowed under shortly after harvest. Field

24 CS was not trapped either immediately before or after harvest in

February 1981.


Radiotracking

A total of 47 radio collars was placed on 59 Neofiber in the live-

trapped study fields and nearby fields (Fig. 14). Most of the radio

collars were put on adult muskrats; a few were put on subadults. Radio

collars (40) from the Denver Wildlife Research Center (DWRC)(Fig. 15)




























































Fig. 14. Fitting a radio collar to an anesthetized round-tailed
muskrat.


61































IJ3W444141p
- t - " l

Oz 00


Fig. 15. Radio transmitter collars from the Denver Wildlife Research
Center (left) and AVMI Instrument Co. (right).


ellF*








had modified whip antennas, made of 3 mm wide copper strap, that were

attached around muskrats' necks by pull-through beaded plastic straps.

Both straps were covered with heat-shrink tubing. Radio collars (7) from

AVMI Instrument Co. (AVM)(Fig. 15) were SM 1 rodent-type collars with con-

tinuous loop antennas made of plastic coated, stranded copper wire. The

antenna-collar is designed to fold back on itself to adjust to the

proper neck size, and is held in place by a piece of heat-shrink tubing.

All transmitters operated in the 164.425 to 164.700 MHz frequency

range, were powered by Hg-675 1.35 v batteries, and weighed 5 to 6 g.

The AVM transmitter package was protected by inner coatings of epoxy

and paraffin, and an outer layer of dental acrylic. The DWRC trans-

mitters were coated with various substances in an effort to improve

waterproofing. Twenty DWRC radios were used between August and December

1979, and 20 DWRC and 7 AVM radios were used between June 1980 and

January 1981.

Three-element hand-held Yagi antennas and 2 AVM LA-12 receivers

were used to locate radioed Neofiber approximately (e.g., to a burrow

system). Muskrats could be located to the nearest burrow by removing

the Yagi and placing the coaxial cable connector in burrow entrances,

gradually decreasing the range of signal reception by turning down the

receiver's gain control.

If an individual muskrat could not be located in the burrow system

in which it was previously radio-located, the 2 paths in each study

field were searched using 3-element Yagis. Attempts to find missing

radios were also made by driving around the field perimeter (except

along middle ditches), checking in all directions every 30 m. While

most of the AVM radios could probably be received in this manner (range









150 to 200 m in standing cane), many of the DWRC radios could probably

not be received (range 30-60 m in standing cane). The modified whip

antenna (a dipole antenna) has less gain than the continuous loop. This

may be true because the loop antenna can be tuned to maximize the extent

to which the rat's body acts as an antenna, or because the dipole is

inefficient when adapted to fit a rat's neck.

When the study fields had been harvested, 4-element Yagis were

mounted on either Honda ATC 110's or in a null-peak system on a truck,

and fields were searched by riding or driving transects, 30 m apart,

that ran the length of the fields. Stops were made at 30 m intervals

to check for all radios not accounted for. When 3 GS was flooded

following harvest in December 1930, we used a canoe and 4-element Yagis

to search for 3 radio-collared Neofiber that were known to be alive

before flooding, and to check for signs of Neofiber presence (houses

and feeding platforms).


Burrow Systems Trapped in Addition to Selected Systems

From June through harvest, 1979 and 1930, new burrow systems were

found in some of the livetrapped fields, either because of their prox-

imity to systems selected for study in May, or because a radio-tagged

Neofiber moved to a previously unmapped system. Burrows in new systems

were included in the monthly livetrapping. Burrow systems discovered

through radiotracking were trapped but burrows were not mapped. Some

burrow systems present in May were trapped in later months, as time

permitted, to increase the chance of recapturing a marked Neofiber that

might have moved to another system. All of the burrow systems trapped








in addition to the originally selected 41 burrow systems are referred

to as additional systems.


Mortalities

Female Neofiber that died in traps or while wearing radio collars

were examined internally to determine reproductive status. All muskrats

that died while wearing radio collars underwent necropsy to determine if

the collars were the probable cause of death, unless predation was clear-

ly the cause. Several muskrats not wearing collars, both marked and un-

marked, were found shortly after death above ground. These were also

examined internally to check for grossly visible abnormalities. Lung

tissue from one of these specimens was preserved and given to Dr. Donald

J. Forrester, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Florida,

for pathology analysis. All Neofiber skulls found in trapped burrow

systems in 1980 study fields were collected.


Ectoparasite Collection

Ectoparasites were collected from 5 Neofiber and 5 Sigmodon cap-

tured in several burrow systems in 8 GS in October 1980. Rats were

anesthetized, laid on a 0.5 x 0.5 m plastic sheet, and dusted with 0.9

percent pyrethrins. Then debris from their fur was brushed onto the

sheet. Material collected on the sheet was transferred to a plastic

bag. Samples were examined within 24 h under a dissecting microscope

at 20X, and parasites were pooled by host species and preserved. Speci-

mens collected from Neofiber were submitted to Dr. Harvey Cromroy,

Department of Entomology and Nematology, and those from Sigmodon to

Thomas Rogers, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University

of Florida, for identification.








Results

rieofiber Captures and Burrowing Activity

The range in total number of individual Neofiber captured per

burrow system between lay and October was 2 to 13 in 1979 and 2 to 9 in

1980; the overall mean was 4.6 (Fig. 16). Mean Neofiber captures per

burrow system per month, including only those burrow systems with at

least one Neofiber capture per month, varied considerably in trend

between fields, but the means for the whole study periods were highly

consistent between fields: 1.72 to 1.80 (Table 14). The majority of

means did not differ from each other by more than 1 SE. Mean Neofiber

captures per burrow system within months over all fields showed a con-

sistent decline (although with overlapping confidence intervals) except

in September, when high field means for 8 GS and 24 CS boosted the over-

all mean. The number of burrow systems in which fleofiber were captured

declined between May and October, or fMay and January (Table 14).

The frequency distribution of rleofiber captures per burrow system-

month was similar in the 4 study fields (Fig. 17). A burrow system-

month is one burrow system trapped in one month. An average of 60

burrow system-months was trapped per field (range 57 to 64) between May

and October. Overall, burrow systems most frequently had 1 (35 percent

of a total of 239 burrow system-months), 0 (28 percent), or 2 (24 per-

cent) Neofiber captures per month. In only 30 (13 percent) of the

burrow system-months were 3 or more Neofiber captured. Total monthly

Neofiber captures per field varied in trend between fields (Fig. 18).

Fields 14 CNl and 8 GS showed a sharp decline in captures from May to

June, and a decline from September to October. Field 6 BN showed an

increase in captures from May to July, and a sharp decrease from July










1
i-
4 r


14 CI


3 5 7
x = 4.8


S n1


1 3 5 7
x = 4.7


6 BN



n


9 11 13

8 GS


'T11


x = 4.3


24 CS


5
x =


Number of Individuals Captured


Number of individual Neofiber captured per burrow system in 4
Florida sugarcane fields. Ten burrow systems in Fields 14 CN and
10 in 6 BN were sampled from May through October 1979; 10 burrow
systems in Field 8 GS and 11 in 24 CS were sampled from May through
October 1980 and May 1980 through January 1981, respectively. Open
bars show total individuals captured between May and October;
hatched bars in 24 CS show total individuals captured between
November and January.


1 7


Fig. 16.


I I II I


I1




















II 0
CQ

a)
C.




ro


4-
0

* A
- E






o
E 'I









0









o o
L)
zir









l..-4






.-



>) L


o0






C)
0.. L-/
m i




















0 3
--


0 0



roE









I-0
4- *u
Li L
>, 10


LO <
3 '"

0 o-


c\j
> C C6





0 0 0"




o Cr C



























































> u
0 *C) r
o *


CM



0

CO







co












0
C








'0
in










C;
I-i

















pn
.0







>o







pa






l11
.1 ^

> h



0n














40

30 -
20 .

10


0 1 2 3 4 5


40

30
20

10




40

30
20

10


012 3 4 5 6

24 CS







0 1 2 3 4 56


0 1 2 34 5


Number of Neofiber captures

Fig. 17. Frequency distribution of Neofiber captures per burrow system as
percentages of total burrow system-months trapped. A burrow
system-month is one burrow system trapped in one month.


6 BN


14 C11


8 GS


h_
















*--- 14 CI
0----o 6 Eli


S-o


May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct 1979


--- 3 GS
- --o 24 CS


K


/ oN0


-5


/0
/


i I I I I I I *
May Jun Jul Aug Sen Oct Nov Dec Jan
1930 1931


Fig. 13. Monthly Neofiber captures in 4 Florida sugarcane fields. Ten
burrow systems were livetrapped in Fields 14 CN, 6 BN, and
3 GS; 11 were trapped in 24 CS.


14

20

16 i

12

3

4


24

20 -1


16

12



4


1 T I _


' _


0 '/








to September. Field 24 CS captures fluctuated down and up with no

apparent overall trend.

Most of the burrow systems continued to show signs of Neofiber

activity through October 1979. Trapping was discontinued because of

inactivity in three systems for a total of 7 months: V in 14 CN (August-

October 1979), G in 8 GS (September-October 1980), and G in 24 CS

(September-October 1980)(Appendix IV a,c,d). Burrow systems varied

considerably in size and number of burrows, both when they were first

mapped in May, and when they were last examined before harvest. The

largest numbers of Neofiber were captured, not surprisingly, in the

largest burrow systems: 14 CN P (9 individuals), 6 BN Q (13), 8 GS A

(9), and 24 CS K (13)(Appendices IV and V). The relationship between

burrowing activity and Neofiber captures was not always as clearcut as

one might expect, however. In 6 BN (Fig. 19a), for example, Neofiber

captures and burrowing activity diverged sharply in August and September.

In the other 3 fields (Fig. 19 a and b), captures and activity were more

similar in trend, and all fields showed a decline in activity near the

end of the study periods. Overall, the correlation between number of

Neofiber captured per month and number of active burrows per month was

not significant (P>0.05).

The mean number of new burrows that appeared per burrow system per

month ranged from 1.7 to 13.5 (Fig. 20), with an overall mean of 6.8

from May to October. There was a decline from May to October or January

in new burrowing activity in all fields that was particularly marked in

the last month before harvest (October in 14 CN, 6 BN and 8 GS; January

in 24 CS). This was also the month in which the fewest Neofiber were

captured in all fields except 24 CS. The mean number of new burrows














14 Cri


/ \
/ \
/ ,,
\ / \
\ / N,
N. / N.
^^ ^. > .


Jun Jul Aug Sep


Oct 1979


0----0 Active burrows

___ [lumber individuals captures


-


6 DBI


G/


Jun


Aug


*,-


4-
c
120 -

S100 |


60

S 40


- 20


Oct 1979


Relationship between number of Neofiber captured and burrowing
activity per month in 2 Florida sugarcane fields studied in
1979. Number of active burrows includes burrows found in
previous months) that were still active and new burrows.


Fig. 19a.
















24 CS


16

12

8

4


Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct


Nov Dec


8

\ 60

40
02

Jan '80-'81

Jan '80-'81


S--- Active Burrows

--- Neofiber Captured


8 GS

0 10
0.,

\


Aug


Sep


4-
150 o
s-
125 -

100

- 75

50


Oct '80


Fig. 19b. Relationship between number of Neofiber captured and burrowing
activity per month in 2 Florida sugarcane fields studied in 1930.
Number of active burrows includes burrows found in previous
months) that were still active and new burrows.


u

12


4 J
4


\













m 12
-W
>,


10
Uo



8

-o






















Fig. 21. Monthly means SE of new burrows per burrow system trapped
(9 to 11 per field) in 4 study fields. One field, 24 CS, was
studied in 3 additional months; the average numbers of new
burrows per system in this field is shown by shaded bars in
E






1 = 0









ov-ay an. un Jul Aug Sep Oct lov Dec Jan














Nlew burrows are those that have appeared since the previous mapping
period, except in m ay, which are burrows that were present when burrow
systems were initially mapped.









appearing monthly per system during the May through September periods

was 7.4; the mean for October was 3.7. Thus during the May through

September study periods, a monthly average of 4.1 burrows (7.4/1.8) was

produced per Neofiber captured, while in October, an average of 2.4

burrows (3.7/1.5) was produced per individual captured.

The mean number of burrows per system at the end of the study

periods were 56.3 (14 CIl), 34.6 (6 BN), 46.2 (8 GS), and 32.6 (24 CS).

Field 24 CS had the lowest mean despite having 3 extra months (November

through January) during which new burrows could have been added. A

large portion of this field was flooded in August and September, which

prevented burrowing in many systems during this period.


Population Sex and Age Structure

Because Fields 14 CN, 6 BN, and 8 GS were trapped immediately

before or after they were harvested in November, all Neofiber captures

from May through November, 1979 and 1980, were used to examine popula-

tion sex and age structure. When data from all fields were combined,

the ratio of adult and subadult males to females was nearly 1:1, but

varied considerably between fields (Table 15). The greatest divergences

from 1:1 occurred in 14 CN with 2.2 subadult males:1 subadult female

and 24 CS, with 2.2 adult females:1 adult male. The numbers involved,

however, are small, and the overall 1:1 ratio should probably be

considered to represent the true situation. The numbers of juveniles

captured per field were even smaller (Table 15). Total captures,

including those from additional burrow systems (p. 102) included 24

females, 18 males, and 1 of sex unknown.









Table 15. Total Neofiber captures, classified by sex and age, from 4
Florida sugarcane fields. Individuals trapped from May through
November 1979 in Fields 14 CN and 6 BN, and May through November
1980 in 8 GS and 24 CS. N = number of burrow systems trapped.


Field N Ad Ad Subado Subad Juvc Juv9 Total


14 CN 10 9 9 11 5 2 2 39,

6 BN 10 16 12 3 3 1 4 39

8 GS 10 14 12 4 7 3 2 42

24 CS 11 6 13 7 10 5 8 49


Total 41 45 46 25 25 11 16 169


- includes one juvenile of unknown sex








The numbers of young animals (subadults and juveniles) per adult

female also varied considerably between fields, and probably reflect

real field differences in reproductive output (embryos produced) or

success (young surviving long enough to be captured): 2.3 (14 CN), 2.3

(24 CS), 1.3 (3 GS), and 0.9 (6 BN).

The number of new adults appearing each month declined in all

fields between May and November; in 24 CS, 5 new adults appeared in

December (Fig. 21). The appearance of young Neofiber (subadults plus

juveniles) was more sporadic (Fig. 21). In 14 CN and 24 CS, a large

proportion of the young animals was captured in May and June. Another

pulse of young appeared in 24 CS in September and October, while only

a few more young appeared in 14 CN in August and September. Patterns

in 6 BN and 8 GS were less evident, perhaps because fewer young were

captured. Most of the young animals that appeared in these fields were

captured in August.


Adult associations

In most of the burrow systems trapped (36/41) at least one adult

male and female were captured over the 7-month study periods, and in

30 systems, adults of both sexes were captured within the same trapping

period. Two or more adult females were captured in 15 systems over the

study periods; 2 or more adult males were captured in 22 systems. How-

ever, within monthly trapping periods, only 5 burrow systems had simul-

taneous captures of 2 males, and 5 had simultaneous captures of 2

females. In only 2 cases did both same-sex adults continue to be

trapped in the same system; almost invariably one or both were not

recaptured or one was known to have moved to a different system. One















JI *9 r-n r= r-, =


May Jun


Jul Aug


May Jun


6 B11





F- I rL-za


AdQ

Subad
+ Juv


Jul Aug Sep Oct flov '79


8 GS


12
9
6






12

6






12
9 *




9
6
3


V77


May


Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Jan '81


Fig. 21. Number of new Neofiber captured and marked each month in 4 Florida
sugarcane fields.


14 Crl


Sep Oct


Nov '79


[lay Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov '30



24 CS








exception was in 14 CN U, with adult males Nos. 14 and 19 (Appendix V).

This was a large burrow system (over 90 burrows), and males Nos. 14 and

19 were very likely to have been siblings, since they were similar-

sized subadults captured near each other with an adult female in May

1979. In burrow system P in the same field, adult female No. 48 was

captured over the same 4-month period in which subadult female No. 25

matured into an adult (Appendix V). Neither adult female was recaptured

in P following this period; female No. 48 was ultimately recaptured in

U in December 1979, following harvest. 14 CN P was also a large system,

and females Nos. 48 and 25 appear to have maintained separate ranges.


Adult female-juvenile associations

Juvenile captures from all burrow systems trapped were combined to

examine adult female-juvenile associations; primarily within-month

captures were considered, therefore identical periods of study for each

burrow system were unnecessary. Of 43 juveniles captured or located in

the 4 study fields, 34 (79 percent) were at or near (less than 5 m from)

an adult female's capture locationss. Seven juvenile females and 2

juvenile males were not captured near an adult female. Twenty-five

juveniles were captured at new burrows (ones appearing in the month of

capture or one month previously) and 13 were captured from older burrows,

despite the fact that more old burrows were available to them. Totals

of 541 new and 797 old burrows were available in the systems in which

juveniles were captured. More old burrows were available in the systems

in which juveniles were captured at new burrows (427 new vs 550 old),

and in the systems in which juveniles were captured at old burrows (183

vs 321 old). Thus, adult females appear to have had a preference for








rearing young in new burrows. Five juveniles were captured at burrows

mapped in May, thus the age of these burrows could not be determined.


Survival

Fields 14 CN and 24 CS had relatively high proportions of burrow

systems in which young Neofiber were captured (8/10 and 10/11, respec-

tively), and were known to survive to maturity (5/8 and 5/10). However,

only in 14 CN was a large proportion of young captured known to survive

to maturity (10/21)(Table 16). Offspring in 24 CS survived relatively

better than in 6 BN and 8 GS (6 of 24 captured by September survived to

adulthood).

Several young died in traps, and necropsy revealed that they had

no visible fat around internal organs, raising the question of whether

they might have been near starvation before entering the traps. Young

that were later recaptured as adults gained an average of 24 g (males)

and 21 g (females) per month during this transition, while young that

were recaptured but not as adults gained an average of 14 g (males) and

15 g (females) per month (Fig. 22). All but one of the young individ-

uals that were recaptured as adults (Fig. 22a) were subadults on

initial capture, whereas most of the young animals recaptured but not

as adults (Fig. 22b) were initially captured as juveniles. There was

considerable variation in weight changes of recaptured young, as indi-

cated by the large SE (Fig. 22). Three subadults and 1 juvenile lost

weight between captures, and were never recaptured as adults.

Clearly, some young viere retarded in their development. For

example, subadult male No. 39 (Appendix V) was captured in 6 BN R in

.lay, June, and July 1979, and weighed 135, 150, and 130 g, respectively.








Proportion of juvenile and
May and September 1979 and
hood in 4 Florida sugarcane


subadult Neofiber, captured between
1980, known to have survived to adult-
fields.


Field Subad Subad ? Juvo' Juv?


14 CN 7/11 3/5 0/2 0/2

6 BN 0/3 0/3 0/1 0/3

8 GS 0/4 1/7 0/2 0/2

24 CS 1/5 4/9 1/5 0/5


Total 8/23 8/24 1/10 0/12

0.35 0.33 0.10 0.00/



a One juvenile female captured in an additional burrow system was
captured as an adult.


Table 16.










a)


50

30 c,- 9

30
30 24 (3.0)
20 --- -= ------ 21 -(6.4)
20 ,

1 10


Individual tleofiber
b)
5 50
" 40


30

20

10
14 (7.1)



-10

-20 Juvenile Subadult



Fig. 22. Weight gain or loss (g/mo) of individual juvenile and subadult
Neofiber a) recaptured as adults and b) recaptured but not as
adults in subsequent months. Mean weight gains are shown by
dashed lines, SE in parentheses. Neofiber were trapped in 4
Florida sugarcane fields between May and November, 1979 and 1980.








He also had a heavy mite (Acarina) infestation, particularly around his

eyes. Assuming that he was at least 30 days old at first capture (since

his body measurements met subadult criteria), he was at least 90 days

old when last captured in July, and could potentially have reached adult

size.

Subadults were recaptured as adults after a mean of 1.9 months

(males) and 1.6 months (females), range 1-3 months. Juvenile male No.

116 (Appendix V: 24 CS C) was considered to have reached adulthood in

September 1980, when testicular development was visible externally,

and his weight reached 190 g, the maximum weight he attained. Assuming

he was approximately 30 days old when initially captured in rMay, he

matured in 150 days, which is longer than would be expected on the

basis of data from known-age, captive reofiber.

One other juvenile, female No. 176 (Appendix V) attained adult

size in just 2 months (approximate age 90 days). Because she was cap-

tured in an additional system, 8 GS N, she was not included in Table 15

and Fig. 22a. She gained 75 g per month for 2 months (male No. 116

gained an average of only 24 g per month) to reach an adult weight of

220 g.

Recaptured juveniles and subadults that were not recaptured as

adults were captured in an average of 2.3 months, range 1-4 months.

Eleven juveniles were recaptured, but not as adults (Fig. 22b). Nine

of these, captured in 2 consecutive months, had gained a mean of 17 g

(one lost weight), and still did not exceed 115 g at their second cap-

ture; 3 of the 9 were remeasured and their TBL's and BL's met subadult

criteria, even though their weights did not. Juvenile male No. 179









(Appendix V: 3 GS E), in contrast, gained 105 g between his first cap-

ture in August and last capture in October 1980.

A total of 3 Neofiber (Nos. 6, 10, 17 and 18 from 14 CN, lo. 36

from 6 BN, and Nos. 116, 128, and 130 from 24 CS; Appendix V) survived

the entire May to November study periods. One individual (male No. 29

from 14 Cl 0 and G) was known to have survived 9 mo (September 1979 to

April 1980).

Because the number of new adults that appeared after August

differed among fields (Fig. 21), recapture success of only those adults

initially captured from May through August and recaptured no later than

November was examined (Table 17). The overall mean number of trapping

periods (months) over which individual adult Neofiber were captured did

not differ significantly by sex (P>0.05). Field means (sexes combined)

ranged from 2.4 to 2.3 months, and were within 1 SE of each other.

However, a smaller proportion of monthly captures, particularly of

young Neofiber, were recaptures in Fields 6 BN and 8 GS than in Fields

14 CN and 24 CS (Fig. 23).

Radiotracking

The fate of individual Neofiber wearing radio collars varied con-

siderably (Appendix VI). Some apparently tolerated the collars fairly

well (Fig. 24) and were radio-located over periods of several weeks or

even several months; others developed neck irritation within a week

after the collars were put on, and five deaths were attributed to wear-

ing of radio collars. In only one of these cases was my attachment of

the collar clearly at fault. Neck abrasions and lesions were also re-

ported on radio-collared nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana (Coreil

and Perry 1977). Adult female No. 300 was located at 14 CN K shortly









Table 17.


Mean number of trapping periods (months) over which adult male
and female Neofiber were livetrapped in 4 study fields. Means
include individuals initially trapped from May through August
1979 (Fields 14 CN and 6 BN), or May through August 1980 (Fields
3 GS and 24 CS).


Number of Months
Field Add Ad Overall
N X SE N SE l SE

14 CN 6 2.8 0.95 3 2.9 0.92 14 2.3 0.64

6 BN 13 2.3 0.60 10 2.2 0.55 23 2.6 0.41

8 GS 11 2.2 0.40 12 2.7 0.50 31 2.4 0.32

24 CS 5 3.0 0.84 10 2.5 0.69 15 2.7 0.52


Overall 35 2.7 0.31 40 2.6 0.31 75 2.6 0.22















In

co


CJ

'0




/I
/I

/I
i/


May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct


Combined data, Fields 14 CN and 24 CS


Combined data, Fields 6 BN and 3 GS


-' ,
<\ c a



l i--i-Li


May Jun Jul


Aug Sep Oct


Monthly recapture success of adult and
juvenile) Neofiber in a study fields.
were trapped in 1979, Fields 24 CS and
1930.


young subadultt and
Fields 14 CN and 6 BN
3 GS were trapped in


- .L r I J / I L I* J I


'.0
C\J
C-11
rn-


1.00 -

0.30 -

0.60

0.40 -

0.20 .


D


1.00

0.30

0.60

0.40 -

0.20


Fiq. 23.


























































'~liC'*.r.i~

rr

;JEi ;,

'iC


~


Fig. 24. Captive radio-collared muskrat digging a burrow.










after her death; her collar was too loose, and her foreleg was cut,

presumably by the beaded strap, because she had placed the leg between

the collar and her neck. She was emaciated and there were no other

signs of injury or disease to indicate that the collar was not the

primary factor causing death. This female was among the first muskrats

radio-collared, and care was taken not to make subsequent attachments

too loose. Neofiber males Nos. 405 and 493 died very shortly after

their collars were put on (3 or 4 days) and also showed no evidence of

predator or disease-related mortality. Male No. 89 was radio-collared

shortly after harvest in 14 CN, and was found to have a heavy mite

infestation and no body fat when he died two days later. Female No. 26

was located in several new burrows shortly before her death; she may

have been attempting to start a new burrow system. She also v'as

emaciated, and one of her forepaws was abraded, as if perhaps she had

tried to remove the collar.

It is possible that some of the radio-collared muskrats were

already stressed by such factors as lack of food, disease, or parasitism,

and that the collars, acting as additional stressors, rapidly acceler-

ated their deaths. Or perhaps there were considerable behavioral

differences between individuals, e.g., in burrowing activity, distances

moved, or interaction with conspecifics, These hypotheses would help

to explain why some individuals, such as female No. 164, were able to

wear radio collars for much longer periods with no apparent harm.

Three radio-collared Neofiber were found within hours after their

deaths, and they appeared to be the victims of predators. Three others

were killed by human activity (one mortality was probably caused by








harvest, one by postharvest discing, and one when a live-trap door

shut on the animal's neck). The remaining 9 muskrats that were known

to have died while wearing radios were too decomposed to permit deter-

mination of cause of death.

Radio collars probably affected the behavior of the muskrats wear-

ing them, but they enabled detection of movements that would otherwise

have been missed. Use of radio collars also revealed that some

Nleofiber were present but not trapped in studied burrow systems.

Most of the radio transmitter malfunction was caused by water

penetrating the protective outer coating. Several types of epoxy were

tried as insulation, and the most suitable one for the conditions

encountered in this study proved to be Epoxi-Patchn 309 (Hysol Division

of the Dexter Corp.). Many of the transmitters put on muskrats in

October 1980 in 8 GS and December 1980 in 24 CS had undergone a battery

change, and may have been prone to stop functioning earlier than antic-

ipated (e.g., the radios put on Nos. 21, 30, 46, 229, and 59: Appendix

VI).


Interburrow System Movements

Although the total numbers of individual adult males and females

captured were nearly equal (Table 15), and overall survival was similar

(Table 17), adult females tended to be recaptured in the same burrow

system over a longer period (x = 2.4 mo) than males (x = 1.9 mo).

However, this difference was not significant (P> 0.05). More male

than female movements to different burrow systems (31 vs 10) were

detected. Thus while both sexes were obviously capable of both long-

distance moves (Appendix IV) and long-term utilization of a single









system (Appendix V), in general males tended to do more of the former

and less of the latter than females. In 24 CS, however, 6 female and

7 male movements were detected. Two of the female movements (female

No. 206 from F to T and female No. 56 from K to W) would not have been

detected and a third (female No. 26 from D to S) might not have been

detected had these females not been wearing radio collars. Thus, given

such small numbers, it is impossible to determine if females in 24 CS

actually behaved differently than females in the other 3 fields, or if

relatively long moves are fairly typical of females, also, and by

chance were only detected in 24 CS.

Two of the 10 females known to have left a system were determined

to have returned to the same system; in both cases the movements

barely exceeded 15 m. One of the 10 was found dead in new burrows and

obviously could not have returned. An eleventh female (No. 142) was

found dead in 8 HS shortly after harvest of 8 GS (Appendix IVc). She

was not counted as one of the females that moved because I could not be

certain if she moved to 8 HS herself or was carried there by a scavenger

or predator. Eight of the 31 males that left a burrow system were

known to have returned to the same system; 6 of the 8 returned to

burrow systems in which an adult female was captured in the same trap-

ping period.

Five of the 10 females that moved went to previously undetected

burrow systems, and were not recaptured or relocated in their original

capture locations. Only 6 of 31 males moved to previously unmapped

burrow systems, and did not return to their original capture location

or another previously mapped burrow system. Five of the 6 were found

dead in new burrow system locations and could not have returned.








Fourteen adult females were radio-located in the same burrow

systems where they were originally captured in at least 2 consecutive

months (58 percent of all radio-collared adult females). Only 6 males

(20 percent of all radio-collared adult males) were located in the

same burrow systems in at least 2 consecutive months.

Thus male and female movements from a burrow system appear to

serve different functions. Males may be wandering among adjacent

burrow systems in search of receptive females, while female moves

appear more often to represent permanent dispersal to a new area.

Females Nos. 130, 26, 206, and 56 were very likely to have been the

founders of burrow systems 0, S, T, and W in 24 CS, respectively. A

particularly strong case can be made for female No. 130. As mentioned

earlier, maturing cane is a very dense growth, and it would be extreme-

ly difficult to find all of the burrows in a given area. However,

burrow system 0 appeared just east of D; a little further down the

same rows, and on the path we used every month to get to D (Appendix

IVd). Therefore, I am certain that 0 appeared between the June and

July 1980 study periods. There were just 6 burrows in 0 in July, and

only female No. 130 was captured here. Subadult male No. 169 (also

from D) appeared there in August, and a new adult male, No. 200, in

September.

In two cases, a relatively short female movement may have been

associated with reproduction. Female No. 26 at burrow system S in

14 CN (Appendix V) moved several rows north of her previous range and

was recaptured at new burrows with a newborn Neofiber (presumably born

in the trap). Female No. 154 moved approximately 20 m from 8 GS K to




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POPULATION DYNAMICS OF THE ROUND-TAILED MUSKRAT (Neofiber alleni ) IN FLORIDA SUGARCANE By LYNN WALSH LEFEBVRE A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1982

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Dr. Nicholas R. Holler assisted in the planning of this study, in obtaining field assistants, and in manuscript review. His advice and insights have added immeasurably to the quality of this project. Paul W. Lefebvre has been a devoted and expert assistant in all aspects of the study. All of the photographs were taken by him. Dr. John L. Seubert was instrumental in coordinating the conduct of this study as both a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service research project and a dissertation subject. The assistance and encouragement of my advisor. Dr. John H. Kaufmann, is deeply appreciated. My committee members. Dr. Katherine C. Ewel and Dr. Carmine A. Lanciani, also provided needed advice and moral support. Mary C. Pittari, a 1979 graduate of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, assisted me very capably in most of the field work from June 1979 through January 1981. She was alternately supported by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Sugar Cane League. Two Cooperative Education students, Farris M. Maddox and Thomas E. Sheppard, also provided field assistance. Howard I. Kochman, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, performed correlation and multiple step-wise regression analyses on snaptrapping and burrow system data. His thoroughness and efficiency in completing these analyses are greatly appreciated. Howard also advised me on the correct taxonomic designation of snakes occurring in the study area. N. Paige Groninger assisted in computerizing data. Drs. David L. Otis m

PAGE 4

and Richard M, Engeman, statisticians v/ith the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, performed nonparametric tests on Neofiber capture and productivity data. Stanley L. Hooks, Director of Research for the Okeelanta Division of Gulf and Western Food Products, Inc., and his assistant Jerry Powell provided necessary field information and assisted in coordinating my field activities with the harvesting and cultivating schedules. They also provided many hours of enlightening discussion about the sugarcane industry, as did Dr. Joseph R. Orsenigo, Director of Research for the Florida Sugar Cane League. League General Manager F. Dalton Yancey and Dr. Orsenigo coordinated the student grant provided by the Florida Sugar Cane League to support Mary Pittari. Information and assistance provided by Carol M. Wade, Gloria G. Mull is, Christine M. Papaneri , and Carl Ota M. Francis of the League are also greatly appreciated. The assistance of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Denver Wildlife Research Center library staff is gratefully acknowledged. Mary F. Layman, formerly the Center's librarian, performed a very helpful literature search, and Ruth M. Voorhees and Nancy K. Nibling provided requested material. H. Randolph Perry, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, generously provided me with bibliographic material on Ondatra . Jean B. Bourassa, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided most of the radio transmitter collars. His advice and cooperativeness in modifying the potting materials are much appreciated. David G. Decker and Raymond E. Matteson, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided technical assistance with field equipment, particularly telemetry equipment. iv

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Captain Donald K. Younker, Florida Department of Natural Resources, made possible several visits to areas of Payne's Prairie inhabited by Neofiber . dr. Donald J. Forrester, Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, provided histopathology analysis on Neofiber lung tissue, and Dr. Harvey L, Cromroy, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, identified mites collected from Neofiber . Dr. Richard A. Kiltie and David E. Steffen provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Discussions with Dr. Archie F. Carr, Jr., aided in interpreting field observations. Last, but far from least, Luana A. Whitehead provided much administrative coordination and typed the several drafts and final copy. Regina A. Hillman assisted in typing the first draft. To all of these colleagues go my heartfelt thanks.

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CONTENTS PAGE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS i i i ABSTRACT vi i i INTRODUCTION 1 STUDY AREAS Sugarcane Culture 6 Description of Study Fields 8 AGE DETERMINATION Methods 17 Results 21 POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS Methods 28 Results 36 LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS Methods 57 Results 66 DISCUSSION 109 CONCLUSIONS 122 MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS 125 LITERATURE CITED 128 APPENDICES I COMMONLY OCCURRING PLANTS IN THE MILL LOT OF THE OKEELANTA DIVISION OF GULF AND WESTERN FOOD PRODUCTS, INC 132 VI

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II POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS SHOWING NEOFIBER BURROW SYSTEM LOCATIONS 134 III ACTUAL AND PREDICTED NEOFIBER CAPTURES IN 36 POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS 151 IV LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS, SHOWING NEOFIBER BURROW SYSTEM LOCATIONS 163 V BURROW SYSTEM MAPS SHOWING MONTHLY ADDITION OF NEW BURROWS, NEOFIBER CAPTURE LOCATIONS, AND MOVEMENTS MADE BY RECAPTURED OR RADIO-LOCATED INDIVIDUALS 168 VI IDENTITY, SEX AND AGE, LOCATION(S), PERIOD OF RADIOTRACKING AND FATE OF RADIO-COLLARED NEOFIBER IN 4 FLORIDA SUGARCANE FIELDS 199 VII NEOFIBER CAPTURED OR RADIO-LOCATED IN ADDITIONALLY TRAPPED BURROW SYSTEMS IN 4 STUDY FIELDS 202 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 204 vn

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy POPULATION DYNAMICS OF THE ROUND-TAILED MUSKRAT ( Neofiber alleni ) IN FLORIDA SUGARCANE By LYNN WALSH LEFEBVRE DECEMBER 1982 Chairman: John H. Kaufmann Major Department: Zoology The round-tailed muskrat ( Neofiber alleni ) is one of several species of rodents reported to damage sugarcane in south Florida. Information on this microtine rodent's population dynamics was needed to develop appropriate control measures and to determine if and when they should be applied. Neof i ber live in burrow systems in sugarcane fields, and these systems can be readily located in recently harvested fields. Snaptrapping, livetrapping, and radio telemetry were used to study methods of population estimation, patterns of burrow system occupancy, reproduction, survival, and interburrow system movements. The sum of burrow system distances across rows, number of burrow systems trapped, burrow system density (high or low), number of burrows plugged, and number of burrows opened after 48 h were the best predictors of the number of Neofiber captured per field, accounting for up to 94 percent of the variation in observed captures. At a given time, average burrow system occupancy was less than 2 individuals. Single adult males or vin

PAGE 9

females, male/ female pairs, a female with 1 or 2 young, or 1 or 2 subadults were the most common system occupants. Extended families were encountered occasionally. Adult males frequently moved among neighboring burrow systems, presumably looking for mates. Productivity (number embryos + number juveniles per adult female) tended to be lower or at least not greater in fields with low burrow system densities (<10) than in high density fields (^15) burrow systems. The grov/er whose fields were studied had recently initiated a 3-year rotation, and Meofiber may be removed from fields before attaining their maximum reproductive rate. Neofiber reproductive rate or survival of young, or both, were low between May and November, the period of crop maturation. The study area's Neof i ber population appears to have declined in recent years, possibly as a result of the shorter crop rotation, replanting by blocks of fields, and the introduction of mechanical harvesting. Control measures to reduce the population in this area are not warranted at this time. Surveys for the presence of Neofiber burrow systems 1 to 2 months after fields are harvested are recommended. High local populations could be effectively reduced by snaptrapping. ix

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INTRODUCTION The round-tailed muskrat, Neoflber a1 leni , is a relatively large microtine rodent, intermediate in size between the voles ( Microtus spp.) and the muskrat ( Ondatra zibethicus ). The range of the round-tailed muskrat is almost entirely restricted to Florida; it also occurs in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Neofiber is one of several species of rodents reported to damage Florida sugarcane ( Saccharum interspecific hybrids )(Samol 1972, Steffen et al . 1981). Neofiber damages cane by gnawing on stalks and burrowing under sugarcane rows, damaging and possibly feeding on cane roots (Bourne jji Porter 1953, Samol 1972). In 1974 the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began a research program to define the problem of rodent damage to Florida sugarcane. Initial studies included the collection of population data on rodents and their damage to sugarcane in this region (Walsh et al , 1976; Lefebvre, Ingram, and Yang 1978). The information obtained is necessary in order to design and evaluate field tests of control methods, which could include chemical, cultural, behavioral, or mechanical techniques. However, these studies yielded little information on Neofiber because it maintains a primarily subterranean existence in sugarcane fields. Elsewhere, the round-tailed muskrat typically is found in shallow freshwater marshes. It builds shelters (houses) and feeding platforms from marsh vegetation, and occasionally burrows into the mud during periods of low water. In sugarcane, where the water level is maintained

PAGE 11

at 0.60 to 0.75 m below the soil surface, the round-tailed muskrat is apparently an obligate burrower and builds extensive tunnel systems. Both in marshes and muck fields, Neofiber appears to be colonial (Fig. 1). Harper (1927) noted the clustering of houses within small areas of Okefenokee Swamp prairies. Porter (1953) referred to the interconnecting tunnels of a burrow system as a colony. Tilmant (1975) designated a distinct cluster of houses, whether small (e.g., 5 houses) or large (over 100 houses) as a colony in the Everglades National Park. Birkenholz (1963) was more vague in his use of the term "colony". He stated (p. 265) that even when all of Payne's Prairie (Alachua County, Florida) was populated by Neofiber , "... the species existed as a series of relatively isolated units or colonies." Steffen (1978) referred to burrow systems in sugarcane fields as colonies under a dictionary definition (Neilson 1959: 528) "A collection of organisms of the same kind living in close association." The round-tailed muskrat occurred in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee before the commercial sugar industry began in 1929 (Steffen 1978). Howell (1920) identified the new subspecies Neofiber alleni nigrescens from Ritta on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee, and noted that its primarily fossorial behavior differed from that of the other subspecies. The muskrat' s presence in south Florida sugarcane fields has been documented by several investigators since 1937 (Steffen et al. 1981). Since 1974, Neofiber has been found in abundance in several areas of the sugarcane growing region. In a survey of recently harvested fields south of Lake Okeechobee in 1976, Steffen et al . (1981) found that 40 percent of the fields in the Western Division of the U. S. Sugar Corporation (13,072 ha) and 80

PAGE 12

Fig. 1. Neof i ber houses on Payne's Prairie (above) and burrows within a sugarcane field (below). The clustering a burrow system in ^ ^_ . ._ ^_ of houses and burrows within groups, and greater distances between groups, suggest a colonial habit.

PAGE 13

percent of the fields in the Mill Lot of the Okeelanta Division of Gulf and Western Food Products, Inc. (8,094 ha) had Neofiber burrow systems. Neo fiber burrows have been evident for a number of years in fields (approx. 26 ha) belonging to Lewis Friend Farms, near Canal Point on the east side of Lake Okeechobee (J. R. Orsenigo 1979, pers. comm.). Modesto Ulloa of Osceola Farms Co. showed USFWS personnel several sugarcane fields with extensive Neofiber burrow systems, approximately 10 km southeast of Canal Point, in April 1981. He reported that 93 ha of sugarcane, recently acquired by Osceola Farms, had a large number of Neof i ber burrows. Monthly reproductive data were collected on round-tailed muskrats, cotton rats ( Sigmodon hispidus ), and roof rats ( Rattus rattus ) trapped in sugarcane fields over a two-year period (May 1974 through April 1976) (Holler, Lefebvre, and Decker, unpubl . data). A total of 251 Neofiber females was examined, and embryos of 50 pregnant females were counted. Litter size averaged 2.1 embryos per pregnant female, and potential annual productivity was estimated to be 8 young per adult female. Neofiber potential productivity was lower than that of cotton and roof rats (38 and 14 embryos/adult female-year, respectively). The average litter size of captive Neofiber maintained at the Florida Field Station, USFWS, was also 2.1 (183 young were produced in 86 litters). Birkenholz (1963) found a mean of 2.3 embryos in 48 pregnant Neofiber females from Payne's Prairie. The USFWS 's present efforts to develop a control strategy for cotton rats and roof rats are directed toward obtaining efficacy data on a toxic bait, to be applied aerially on fields. Because Neofiber apparently spends little time above ground in sugarcane, an aerially

PAGE 14

5 applied bait would probably be ineffective for control of this species. Several aspects of Neofiber population dynamics needed investigation to determine if and when control is needed, and what methods might be most effective. The study described here was designed to determine 1) the number, sex, and age of Neof i ber occupying burrow systems in sugarcane, 2) how system numbers and size relate to Neof i ber numbers within fields, 3) if population size can be indexed by plugging burrows and determining the number reopened per burrow system, 4) if there is a relationship between population density and productivity, and 5) to what extent there is movement by individuals among different burrow systems. Population data are needed not only to develop effective control measures, but also to assess the status of the round-tailed muskrat as an endemic Florida mammal. It is listed as a Species of Special Concern by the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (Layne 1978). Neofiber has a low reproductive rate, which is unusual for a microtine. Richmond and Stehn (1976) pointed out that most of the microtine rodents can rapidly increase their numbers. Moreover, the round-tailed muskrat' s apparent dependence on a burrowing existence in the sugarcane habitat may limit its capacity for dispersal. The above factors should influence the decisions on what, if any, control measures are needed.

PAGE 15

STUDY AREAS South Florida Sugarcane Culture Sugarcane is a grass, with a mature stalk (culm or stem) divided into a number of segments (joints), each consisting of a node and an internode. In very young cane, before the above-ground stem has formed, the quantity of sucrose present is negligible (Barnes 1974). As the stem elongates, limited amounts of sucrose are stored, but near maturity, larger quantities are stored. At maturity, the stalk consists of juice (essentially a sucrose solution containing simple sugars and starches), small amounts of mineral salts, pith and rind fiber and an outer covering of wax. Most of the sugarcane in South Florida is grown on organic soils embracing the eastern and southern shores of Lake Okeechobee in the northern Everglades. The Florida sugar industry has experienced two growth periods, from the mi d1920 's until 1962, and from 1962 to date, with the greatest expansion in the latter period. Approximately 145,000 ha have been harvested annually in recent years, making sugarcane second in area to citrus in Florida's agriculture. A network of irrigation canals and field lateral ditches maintains the water level in the canefields at about 0.6 to 0.75 m below the soil surface, although fields may be flooded occasionally by heavy rains. Fields are generally rectangles of 8, 16, or 32 ha and are laid out in a regular pattern, with parallel rows of sugarcane 1.5 m (5 ft) apart.

PAGE 16

oriented north-south or east-west. Some fields are divided longitudinally into halves by shallow (approximately 1-2 m deep x 2 m wide) ditches called middle ditches or field laterals. Sugarcane planting usually commences in late August or September and continues until December, after the fields have been thoroughly prepared. Plant cane, as the first crop is called, grov/s for 12 to 18 months before harvest, while succeeding crops, called stubble or ratoon crops, are generally harvested after a year of growth. Florida sugarcane is harvested during the winter months (NovemberMarch). When the cane is harvested, buds on the underground stalk (or stool) give rise to the succeeding growth of cane known as a ratoon (Barnes 1974). Thus a first ratoon crop has been cut once and will provide the second crop, the second has been cut twice, etc. The sugarcane grower whose fields were used in this study had recently initiated a 3-year crop rotation, so that fields were replanted after being allowed to ratoon twice (a plant crop plus two ratoon crops had been harvested). Other growers may harvest as many as 8 or more crops from some of their fields, although the industry average is probably 4 or 5. The number of crops to be taken after a single planting will depend on production, and hence be influenced by frosts, freezes, insect damage, rodent damage, weed competition, and other factors. The day before a sugarcane field is scheduled to be cut it is burned to reduce the amount of leaves (trash) taken to the mill, since these interfere with the recovery of sucrose from the stalks. Leaf removal is also necessary for hand cutting of cane. Cutting of the cane is accomplished by hand with a cane knife or by harvesting machines. These two methods result in different patterns

PAGE 17

8 of trash distribution in the harvested fields (Fig. 2). Hand cutting results in alternate windrows of cut sugarcane stalks and trash (leaves, cane tops). Each windrow covers two cane rows and the strip of ground 1.5 tn wide between them. After the sugarcane stalks have been picked up and taken to the mill, two rows and a strip of ground 3 to 4.5 m wide are uncovered between trash windrows. In machine harvesting, trash consisting of partially shredded tops and leaves is scattered m.ore or less uniformly over the whole field. Thus the density of trash over every other two rows in hand cut fields is at least twice as great as trash density in machine cut fields. Steffen et al . (1981) found that Neofiber burrow systems were more common in hand cut than machine cut fields. Description of Study Fields All of the study fields were located in the Mill Lot of the Okeelanta Sugar Division of Gulf and Western Food Products Co. (Figs. 3a-b). The Mill Lot, approximately 8 km south of South Bay, Palm Beach County, Florida, is bordered on the east by U.S. Highway 27, on the north by the Bolles Canal, and on the west by the Miami Canal. A paved road and large canal divide the Mill Lot into north and south halves. Smaller canals and unpaved roads run perpendicular to the paved road, dividing the area into 14 blocks of 8 30-ha fields to the north and 15 blocks of 8 fields to the south of the road. Sugarcane rows in all fields run east-west. A buffer of at least one field in 1979, and one half-field in 1980, separated study fields to the north or south. Fields 22 BN and CM in 1979 (Fig. 3a) were considered "halves" of the same field because they had no middle ditches.

PAGE 18

Fig. 2. Machine cut (left) and hand cut (right) sugarcane fields shortly after harvest.

PAGE 19

T3 C OJ O 1— Q. 1— (O -a s<— OJ T> MU en to a i." o o • "O O 3 -a —I c (B I— cr>-a I— c c o ro E t/1 IT3 -M So Ol : CO Jai QJ 0) lO r— O) C M-O * 0) x: •!o 3 <-< •r4-> 1— +-> M-o <4•!>, O) -fr-M S>, SE « iC O) -a (T3 ^ r— > 3 0) O) -(-> T3 -c x: +-> (O E E O) " 3 O -t-> o S_ C O CO o CO rO OJ CO +-) 1/1 o -<— sx: s •-o CD S != 3 S0) OJ c +-> -C 3 O) r— M---^ o o E 4-—' « r— CO O) O) Sr— O OJ C O) > •IS«3 CO S_ CO 0) O) -o -o -Q r3 E ^ 2 -a OJ -a c -a c: o 4J •1CO s: -a Its OJ +-> -t(t3 -— >, o) -a O) 3 0) 0) oa T3 E 3 (O l£) 4-» CO I-o CD QJ r— C JC OJ O -»-> -t— <+c O) O " E OJ T3 ra CO 1 — QJ CO T3 CL-c: 1 — E t/i QJ QJ ro 3 X 5T3 (O O .^ o o SO 01 4-) C(_ 0) O' QJ s_ Q. 01 C 3 SCJ (T3 CO en LL.

PAGE 20

11 I I ^^ i Ci n

PAGE 21

12 n t s — r*" I N k I ^ r E I 4^ ^ I I ^^ ->(>o

PAGE 22

13 Harvest season study fields were beginning their second or third ratoon. In 1979, both halves of the same field were studied. In 1980, halves of different fields were studied in order to increase the field sample size. Most of the 1980 study fields had middle ditches, but in those that did not, the number of rows was counted and half were included in the study half-field. Fields were selected a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 60 days after harvest. In 1979, all study fields were hand cut while in 1980, 7 or 25 fields (28 percent) were machine cut. In both 1979 and 1980, third ratoon fields were harvested earlier than second ratoon. In 1979, third ratoon fields were studied from 14 December to 16 February, second ratoon fields were studied from 15 March to 22 April. In 1980, third ratoon fields were studied from 16 December to 22 January, second ratoon from 4 April to 15 May. Study of third ratoon fields in 1980 was curtailed by heavy rain in late January that flooded the fields. Livetrapped study fields, which had been hand cut, were beginning their second ratoon when selected in May, 1979 and 1980. Fields 14 CN (north half) and 6 BN (north half) were harvested in November and December 1979, respectively. Fields 8 GS (south half) and 24 CS (south half) were harvested in November 1980 and February 1981, respectively. Fields 14 CN and 6 BN both had middle ditches, while 8 GS and 24 CS did not. Individual sugarcane fields and areas within fields are often invaded by many other plant species. Probably the most important ones to Neofiber are sedges (Cyperus spp.) Cvperus spp. are common referred to as nutgrass. Sedges, commonly eaten by Neofiber ,

PAGE 23

14 occurred in most of the study fields and Neofiber burrow systems frequently occurred in portions of fields covered with sedges. A few fields were literally carpeted by sedges, such as 5 DN studied in 1979, which was also riddled with Neofiber burrow systems. The association between sedges and Neofiber was not universal, but it has been observed in other growers' fields. Maidencane ( Panicum hemitomon ) was found on canal and middle ditch banks, and Neofiber burrows were sometimes found in patches of this grass. Maidencane was not observed in fields. Fall panicum ( Panicum dichotomiflorum ) was abundant in one of the burrow systems in 14 CN. Many other plants were common in the study area, both in fields and on ditchbanks (Appendix I). Several other small mammals occupy Neofiber burrow systems in sugarcane fields: cotton rats ( Sigmodon hispidus ), roof rats ( Rattus rattus), and rice rats ( Oryzomys palustris ). Rabbits ( Sylvilagus palustris and S. floridanus ) inhabited fields and ditchbanks, and occasionally enlarged Neofiber burrows for shelter. House mice ( Mus musculus ) were occasionally seen and rarely trapped in the study fields, and it is not known if these rodents ever inhabit Neof i ber burrows. M. musculus were trapped from their own distinctive burrows in sugarcane fields outside of the study area. Bobcats ( Lynx rufus ) were probably the only significant mammalian predator of Neofiber in the study area. Several were seen during the day, their scats and footprints were commonly seen on field edges, and scats were occasionally found in or near burrow systems. Feral house cats ( Felis domesticus ) were rarely seen and their scats and footprints were not observed.

PAGE 24

15 Raccoons ( Procyon lotor ), otters ( Lutra canadensis ), opossums ( D1de1ph1s virginiana ), and armadillos ( Dasypus novemcinctus ) were also known to occur in the study area. Barn owls ( Tyto alba ) and northern harriers (marsh hawks, Circus cyaneus ) were probably the major avian predators of Neo fiber in the study area. Marsh hawks migrate through the sugar growing region during the harvest season, when Neof i ber burrow systems, exposed by harvest, are most vulnerable to an avian predator. Burrowing owls ( Athene cunicularia ) were observed nesting in old Neof i ber burrows and may prey upon young muskrats. Common grackles ( Quiscalus quiscula ) and cattle egrets ( Bubulcus ibis ) may prey upon injured or disoriented Neof i ber after harvest. Numerous shorebirds and waterfowl were seen in the study area, particularly during the harvest season, when fields flooded with water discharged from the mill attracted migrating flocks. Great blue herons ( Ardea herodias ) and great egrets ( Casmerodius albus ) were common in all seasons; both have been observed hunting Neof i ber on Payne's Prairie, Florida (Donald K. Younker, pers. comm.). Several rodents, including thirteen-1 ined ground squirrels ( Spermophilus tridecemlineatus ). Eastern chipmunks ( Tamias striatus ), and prairie pocket gophers ( Geomys bur sari us ), have been reported as prey items of great blue herons (Peifer 1979). By far the most commonly encountered snakes in canefields were king snakes ( Lampropel tis getulus ). King snakes were several times observed to enter or exit Neof i ber burrows. Microtine rodents ( Microtus ochrogaster ) were found to be the most important food item of the prairie kingsnake ( Lampropel tis calligaster ), making up 48% by

PAGE 25

16 volume of its diet (Fitch 1978). Rat snakes ( Elaphe obsoleta ) were less frequently seen. Ribbon snakes ( Thamnophis sauritus ), water snakes ( Nerodia spp. ) and cottonmouths ( Aqkistrodon piscivorus ) occurred on ditch banks. Alligators ( Alligator mississippiensis ) and softshell turtles ( Trionyx ferox ) occasionally were seen in canals. Alligators prey upon Ondatra in Louisiana when muskrats are abundant (Valentine et al., 1972). Alligator gar ( Lepisosteus spatula ) and largemouth bass ( Micropterus salmoides ) also inhabited canals. Fire ants ( Solenopsis invicta and S^. geminata ) were extremely common throughout the study area. Their nests frequently occurred in Neo fiber burrow systems, and care had to be taken not to set traps too close to them.

PAGE 26

AGE DETERMINATION Methods Known-age Specimens Twenty-five (13 females, 12 males) captive-born Neofiber were weaned at 18 to 20 days and placed individually in 20 x 35 x 20 cm stainless steel wire cages. They received Lab Chow^, Rabbit ChoW^, and water ad lib. They were anesthetized with Metofane~^ (methoxyflurane) and measured at one-week intervals until 50-60 days old, then at twoweek intervals, until they were sacrificed to provide known-age specimens ranging in age from 30 to 220 days. Measurements included total length, body length, tail, hind foot to the nearest mm, and weight to the nearest g on an Ohaus triple-beam balance. Reproductive tracts were removed and preserved in a 70% ethanol solution. Testis weights were determined to the nearest mg, generally within a month of their collection, and seminal vesicle development was noted. Measurements were made on 10 additional known-age Neofiber that died while in captivity, reared under conditions similar to those described above but some were raised with 1 or 2 cagemates. Field Specimens Three age/reproductive classes were determined on the basis of known-age, laboratoryreared specimens and reproductive condition of unknown-age, snaptrapped specimens. Juveniles were defined as <30 days old, adults as sexually mature, and subadults as animals older than 30 days but not sexually mature. 17

PAGE 27

18 Mean body measurements (total length, body length, and weight), plus one standard deviation (SD), of known-age juveniles were used as criteria to establish the upper boundary for the juvenile category for snaptrapped specimens. Preserved uteri from snaptrapped specimens were examined at 10-20X for placental scars and to check counts of embryos made in the field. Nonpregnant females were classified as parous if the uterus had at least one scar (Fig. 4). Sexually mature snaptrapped females were defined as those having embryos or placental scar(s). Preserved testes were weighed to the nearest mg on a Mettler PN 163 balance. The frequency distribution of field specimens' average testis weights was used to determine the boundary between adult and subadult testis weight. Since it was noted that most males had either well -developed seminal vesicles dilated with fluid, or small, empty seminal vesicles (Fig. 5), seminal vesicle development was used to classify males with average testis weights close to the adult/subadult boundary, adults having dilated vesicles and subadults undilated or very slightly dilated vesicles. Mean body measurements (total length, body length, and weight) minus or plus one standard deviation for adult male (-1 SD), adult female (-1 SD), and juvenile (+1 SD) snaptrapped specimens were used to determine upper and lower boundaries for the subadult category of livetrapped specimens. If any 2 of the 3 measurements exceeded or fell below a category boundary, the muskrat was classified accordingly. If reproductive condition of livetrapped specimens was evident (obviously pregnant or post-partum females, scrotal testes in males, or information

PAGE 28

, ' ^!,i. 'l'l I | I M |I|I | III|I|I|II Fig. 4. Uteri of parous, nonpregnant (above) and nulliparous (below) Neofiber. 19

PAGE 29

Fig. 5. Reproductive tracts of immature (above) and mature (below) male Neofiber. Arrows indicate seminal vesicles. 20

PAGE 30

21 from necropsies) it took precedence over body measurements in classifying sexually mature muskrats; less than 5 percent of the field specimens were classified on the basis of reproductive condition alone. Results Because mean body length, weight, and total length did not differ significantly for male and female known-age juveniles (P>0.10), the combined-sex mean measurements plus 1 SD were used as the upper boundary for the juvenile category (Table 1). If any 2 of these 3 measurements from an unknown-age individual equalled or were lower than the values given in Table 1 for known-age Neofiber, the individual was classed as a juvenile. Almost all snaptrapped males with an average testis weight below 200 mg showed ^ery little development of the seminal vesicles. Also, the relatively low incidence of specimens with average testis weights between 100 and 200 mg (Fig. 6) made 200 mg a logical breaking point that would result in minimal classification error. Thus males with an average testis weight >200 mg were considered to be adults. Snaptrapped females carrying embryos or with uterine scars indicating previous pregnancy were considered to be adults. Mean weight, total body length, and body length, minus 1 SD, of field-trapped sexually mature Neofiber (Table 2) were used to determine the adult/subadult boundary for both snaptrapped and livetrapped individuals. Sexually mature males and mature, nonpregnant females had nearly the same body measurements, but not weight (Table 2). Parous, nonpregnant females weighed significantly less than adult males (P<0.01) and pregnantfemales

PAGE 31

22 •r— > Q '^r "=r CM O o s|x CO CO 03 CO CO a O CO >> -a o CO I CM Q 00
PAGE 32

23 80 J3 o 4O s. cu 60 40 -^ Adults 20 -

PAGE 33

24 (U c u s01 o o o o -a CVJ CM ID O 73 CU Q. a. i-M o. to c u> 4J Q 00 -a o CO (Ti (Ti CO >J3 00 cn CM CT> en Q 00 O CM -a 4-> 01
PAGE 34

25 (P'^0.01). Thus the mean measurements of nonpregnant females were used to establish the adult category for females. Measurements of captive males and females (Tables 3 and 4) indicate that 2 of the 3 adult age class criteria were satisfied at 101 to 110 days by males and 81 to 90 days by females. This corresponds fairly well with Birkenholz's (1963) determination of sexual maturity at 90 to 100 days. Females may actually mature more quickly than males. However, the number of captive animals measured was small, and mean male measurements at 81 to 90 days were very close to satisfying adult criteria (Table 3). Also, mean total length and body length measurements of known-age females between 91 and 120 days old were just short of the adult criteria (Table 4). Juveniles in this study were defined as being 30 days old or less, subadults as sexually immature and between 31 and 89 days old, and adults as sexually mature and at least 90 days old. Eight of 11 captive males, age 90 days to 1 year, had average testis weights that exceeded 200 mg. Two males had average testis weights over 190 mg, and also had dilated seminal vesicles. The eleventh male was 91 days old when sacrificed, and had an average testis weight of only 37 mg. Two older known-age males (435 days and 4.4 years) had average testis weights considerably lower than 200 mg. Several field specimens with large body measurements also had low testis weights. Possibly older and/or isolated Neo fiber undergo testicular regression. Hind foot length showed too much overlap between age classes to be useful as an aging criterion (juveniles: 34-45 mm, subadults 39-48 mm; adults 40-50 mm).

PAGE 35

26 ^ a. to u -a

PAGE 36

27 +-> > Q. (J (U

PAGE 37

POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS Methods Field Selection Because burrow systems are much easier to find shortly after fields have been harvested, an attempt was made to study burrow systems in as many fields as possible between December and April in two years. Second and third ratoon fields were surveyed using all -terrain vehicles between 30 and 50 days after their harvest dates. Fields were completely surveyed by starting 6 rows north or south of a corner, travelling the length of the field, and then making successive passes every 12 rows, so that a 6-row wide swath on each side of the vehicle was searched on each pass. Active burrow systems were flagged and counted. A burrow system was considered active if it contained at least one burrow that showed signs of postharvest excavation by Neofiber : usually a large mound of muck (Fig. 7) or at least some moist muck pushed out of a burrow entrance. The minimum distance between the nearest two burrows of systems classified as adjacent but separate was 15 m. Burrows with less than 15 m between them were included in the same burrow system. This criterion was not completely arbitrary, as it was based upon field observations which indicated that most distinct groups of burrows were at least 15 m apart. Fields with fewer than 10 burrow systems per half (< 0.67 per ha) were considered to have a low Neof i ber density, and those with greater than or equal to 15 per half-field (> 1.0 per ha) were considered to 28

PAGE 38

Fig. 7. Mounds of freshly excavated muck at an entrance to a roundtailed muskrat's burrow system in a recently harvested sugarcane field. 29

PAGE 39

30 have a high Neofiber density. These density criteria were based on the mean density of burrow systems (0.59/ha) found by Steffen (1978) in his 1976 survey of the occurrence of Neofiber burrow systems in fields belonging to the U. S. Sugar Corporation, located north and northwest of the Okeelanta Mill Lot. Fields with densities greater than 9 but less than 15 burrow systems per half-field were generally not used, with one exception: 16 GN (south half), studied in 1979. This halffield had 11 burrow systems, but the whole field averaged 15 systems, and thus was considered a high density field. Field selection was essentially dictated by the harvest schedule. At any given time a limited number of fields were available from which to select study fields; thus, less than optimal choices occasionally were made (e.g., 16 GN). In no case was a field rejected that had a higher burrow system density than those high density fields that were selected. One high density field and one or more low density fields were generally studied concurrently. Burrow System Selection and Snaptrapping All active burrow systems in low density fields were studied in both 1979 and 1980. In 1979, burrow systems in high density fields were selected for study by randomly selecting 1 or 2 groups of adjacent burrow systems. Groups were determined from field survey maps, and contained 3 to 12 burrow systems. Two days before trapping, burrows in selected systems were plugged by kicking dirt into the entrances, on a randomly selected half of both high and low density fields. In 1980, half-fields rather than whole fields were studied. Halffields were stratified into quarters, and 2 burrow systems per quarter

PAGE 40

31 were randomly selected. If a quarter had only 2 systems, both were studied. From to 5 additional burrow systems (generally 1 per quarter) were also studied because of their proximity to (less than 60 m from) randomly selected systems. Field 24 FS was the only exception: all of this half-field's burrow systems were studied. Burrows in selected systems in both high and low density fields (except 24 FS) were plugged in the same manner as 1979 burrow systems. Reopened or new burrows were trapped for 4 consecutive nights using 9 x 18 cm Woodstream Corporation and McGill rat traps. Burrow systems in which no burrows were reopened were not trapped. The number of Neof i ber captures per burrow system was recorded, and necropsies were performed on all Neof i ber specimens. The number of embryos per pregnant female was counted, and reproductive tracts of both males and females were preserved. Burrow System Mapping In 1979, distances between burrow systems within fields were determined by pacing. In 1980, burrow systems were mapped using a Rolatap# 660 measuring wheel, rolled by hand from system to system between two rows, or attached to the rear luggage rack of an all -terrain vehicle. Passes were made across high density fields, approximately 20 rows apart, with stops at the northernmost burrow in each system. Rows north or south of the row traveled to each burrow system were counted. The distances between the farthest outlying burrows along cane rows and across rows were determined for each system by pacing and counting rows (Fig. 8). These x and y distances are indices to burrow system size. The burrow systems in one 1980 low density half-field, 34 BN,

PAGE 41

32 -No A ^-^ Oeoe Cane row oFig. 8. Schematic representation of Meofiber burrow system showing distances x and y, which are considered to be indices to burrow system size. Circles represent burrows.

PAGE 42

33 were mapped but not trapped, and in one 1979 high density half-field, 28 CN, were trapped but not mapped. Burrow System Distribution Study half-fields were stratified (Fig. 9) and the number of burrow systems within each stratum was counted. The stratification was intended to show if there was a tendency for Neo fiber burrow systems to be distributed more frequently near the middle ditch (Stratum II), in the center (Stratum IV), near the outer field edge (Stratum III), or in the field ends bordered by roads or canals but not close to either the middle ditch or a neighboring field (Stratum I), If a stratum line fell on a burrow system, that system was not counted unless 2/3 or more of the area it covered fell within one stratum. Most of the burrow systems were counted. Statistical Analysis Differences in burrow system density by field stratum were tested for by single classification analysis of variance (Sokal and Rohlf 1969); if a significant F-ratio was obtained, stratum means were tested using Duncan's new multiple-range test (Steel and Torrie 1960). The relationship among year, ratoon, and Neofiber density on total captures per burrow system was analyzed by SASPROC FUNCAT (functions of categorical responses) which uses chi-square tests rather than Ftests in a procedure analagous to ANOVA. Captures per burrow system Statistical Analysis System (Helwig and Council 1979),

PAGE 43

34 OJ fO

PAGE 44

35 were categorized as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or > 5. Two models were fitted to the data. The first model included the 3 main effects and all 4 possible interactions of the main effects; the second included the 3 main effects and only 1 significant interaction term. An exploratory testing procedure was used to determine if differences in Neof i ber productivity were related to year, ratoon, or density. A Kruskal-Wallis one-way layout test (Sokal and Rohlf 1969) was performed on each of 7 combinations of the data to test the main effects and interactions. Although it is possible to encounter significant test results by chance when multiple comparisons are made, the conservativeness of the nonparametric procedure should alleviate this problem. The effect of burrow plugging on Neof i ber captures in 1979 was analyzed by the SAS MRANK procedure, which is used to test nonparametric hypotheses about the relationship between a set of independent variables and a set of dependent variables. The effect of covariates, such as burrow system size (x and y), could be eliminated. For each hypothesis tested, MRANK prints a chi-square statistic and the probability of obtaining a larger value. The 36 half-fields in which burrow systems were plugged before trapping (12 in 1979 and 24 in 1980) were used to determine which variables best predicted the number of Neof i ber trapped in these fields. Pearson correlation coefficients (Sokal and Rohlf 1969) were obtained for 10 independent variables per field: number of burrow systems, burrow systems trapped, burrows plugged (= total number burrows in trapped systems), burrows opened, sum of the x-dimensions, sume of the y-dimensions, sum of the trap effort (number of traps x number of nights trapped), year, ratoon, and density (high or low) of burrow systems.

PAGE 45

36 Linear regression was performed to determine the best 2-, 3-, 4... 10 variable models. One 2-variable and one 4 variable model were selected for forward solution, stepwise regression. Predicted Neo fiber captures with prediction intervals for each field and distribution and plots of residuals (deviations of observed from estimated values) were also obtained. These analyses were all completed through the use of SAS. Results Burrow System Distribution High Density Fields Burrow system density did not differ significantly among Strata II, III, and IV, (P> 0.05). However, their density in Strata II and IV was significantly greater (P <0.05) than in Stratum I (Table 5). Furthermore, no field had a very high density of burrow systems (>3 per ha) in Stratum III, and a lower density in both II and IV. When Stratum III had wery high burrow system density, one or both of Strata II and IV had wery high densities (e.g., fields 6 DN, 34 CN-N, and 32 EN-N, Appendix II). Stratum I burrow system density appeared to have the least reliable relationship with overall field density, which may be related to the small size of this stratum. Eight of the 20 high density fields (40 percent) had no burrow systems in Stratum I, and some of these 8 fields had very high burrow system densities (>3 burrow systems per ha) in other strata (e.g., 26 DN-N, Appendix II).

PAGE 46

37 Table 5. Mean number of Meofiber burrow systems per hectare in 4 strata of half-fields with high burrow system densities. Two of the 3 2nd ratoon 1980 fields had no middle ditches, and thus no Stratum II. These half-fields were not included in testing for differences between half-field means. Half-fields

PAGE 47

38 um Low Density Fields There was no significant difference in burrow system densities among strata in the 23 half-fields with middle ditches {P> 0.05) (Table 6). Seven fields had no middle ditch. A low proportion (20 percent) of all 30 low density half-fields had burrow systems in Stratum I, 57 percent had systems in Stratum IV, 73 percent in Strat III, and 70 percent (16 of 23) in Stratum II. In no field were there burrow systems in all 4 strata, and in 17 fields (57 percent), burrow systems were restricted to 1 or 2 strata. Neofiber Captures per Burrow System A total of 551 Neofiber was captured in 262 of 351 burrow systems trapped. Thus there was an overall average of 2.1 Neofiber captured per burrow system with at least 1 Neofiber capture, and an average of 1.6 Neofiber captured per burrow system trapped. The range in captures was to 10 per burrow system. Undoubtedly Neofiber were present but not trapped in some burrow systems. It is also possible that Neofiber had abandoned some systems before the systems were trapped, or that they were trapped in another burrow system (i.e., some Neofiber may have visited more than one burrow system within the study period of a given field). In 10 systems that appeared to be active when plugged (4 in 1979, 6 in 1980), no burrows were reopened and no new burrows appeared in 48 h.. Nine of these systems were relatively small (2 to 10 burrows, X = 4.3). One system had 24 burrows. These systems were not trapped. Burrow system density was the only single factor determined to be correlated with the number of Neofiber captured per burrow system

PAGE 48

39 Table 6. Mean number of Meofiber burrow systems per hectare in 4 strata of half-fields with low densities of burrow systems. Half-field N III III IV

PAGE 49

40 (P = 0.001), and the ratoon x year interaction was also significant (P = 0.012). In 1979, average captures per burrow system were lower in the third than in the second ratoon, whereas in 1980, captures per system were slightly greater in the third than in the second ratoon. Overall, burrow systems in high density fields yielded an average of 1.75 Neofiber each, whereas systems from low density fields yielded an average of only 1.20 Neofiber each (Table 7). The pattern of Neofiber captures per burrow system in low and high density fields differed primarily in the number of systems with 4 or more captures (Fig. 10). Low density fields had relatively few of these (1 field had 1 burrow system from which 5 Neofiber were captured), and relatively more systems from which only 1 Neofiber was captured. Population Sex and Age Structure Slightly more females than males were trapped (282 vs 269). The difference in captures of adult females and males was greater: 123 vs. 100, or a ratio of 1.23 adult females per male. Deviation from a 1:1 ratio was not significant (X = 2.37; P>0.05). Overall averages of 0.62 and 0.64 adult per burrow system trapped were captured in low and high density fields, respectively. The average number of adult females and males captured per burrow system did not appear to differ between low and high density fields: 0.32 (38/117) vs. 0.36 (85/234) adult female and 0.29 (34/117) vs. 0.28 (66/234) adult male per burrow system from low and high density fields, respectively. Thus, the difference in Neofiber captures per burrow system between high and low density fields appears to be accounted for by the difference in the number of young (subadult + juvenile) Neof i ber captured per

PAGE 50

41 Table 7. Average number of Neofiber captured per burrow system trapped, by ratoon x year x burrow system density combination. Ratoon-Year High Burrow

PAGE 51

42 40 30 20 10 to B Ol +-> (/) >1 oo 3 o isCO +-> (U u Q. High Density 3 >4 40 30 20 10 Low Density >4 Number of r^eofiber Captured Fig. 10. Frequency distribution of burrow systems from which 0, 1, 2, 3, or ^4 Neofiber were captured in fields with high or low burrow system densities.

PAGE 52

43 burrow system (Table 8). A total of 259 young (1.11 per burrow system) was captured in high density fields, whereas only 69 (0.59 per burrow system) were captured in low density fields. In low density fields, the overall ratio of adult:subadult: juvenile captures was 2.5:1.4:1.0, and the average number of juveniles captured per adult female was 0.76. In high density fields, the age ratio was 1.3:1.2:1.0, and an average of 1.35 juveniles per adult female was captured. Productivity A total of 37 pregnant females (30 percent of all adult females) was captured. Percent females pregnant was similar in the 4 high density ratoon x year combinations (28 to 36 percent), but ranged from to 44 percent in low density ratoon x years (Table 9). Only 1 of 13 adult females (8 percent) trapped in 1979 low density fields was pregnant. Mean litter size was lower in 10 females from low density fields (x = 1.50 embryos; SE = 0.167) than in 27 females from high density fields (x = 1.80; SE = 0.103). However, this difference is not significant (P> 0.05). Mean number of embryos carried by pregnant females was 1.76 (SE = 0.09). Pregnant females usually carried 2 embryos, 1 in each horn of the uterus (Fig. 11). Females carrying 2 embryos were significantly larger in body length (x = 197 mm) than females carrying 1 embryo (x = 189 mm; P< 0.05). Since the number of embryos per female was small (usually just 1 or 2), an index was used in testing for correlation of ratoon, density, and year with female productivity;

PAGE 53

44 s_

PAGE 54

45 Table 9. Percent adult female Neofiber pregnant and average litter size by ratoon x density x year combination. Ratoon x Density x Year % Pregnant Average Litter Size 3rd-LD 3rd.HD 2nd-LD 2nd-HD 3rd.LD 3rd-HD 2nd-LD 2nd.HD 1979 1979 1979 1979 1980 1980 1980 1980 4

PAGE 55

46

PAGE 56

47 Productivity Index (P.I.) = _e j_ where n = number of embryos n. = number of juveniles N = number of adult females in each field trapped (Table 10). Density was highly significantly correlated with productivity (P = 0.003). However, there were also significant interactions between density and ratoon (P = 0.012), and density and year (P = 0.023). Density appears to have been correlated primarily with productivity in third ratoon fields (Fig. 12a). This suggests that the low and high density third ratoon fields differed in some aspects important to Neofiber's production of offspring, whereas second ratoon low and high density fields did not differ. Second ratoon low density fields may simply be fields which Neof i ber are just beginning to colonize. It is also possible that second ratoon high density fields were not as suitable as third ratoon high density fields for production of young. The density x year interaction resulted primarily from a difference in average productivity index trend from 1979 to 1980 between third ratoon high density fields (slightly upward) and the other ratoon x density combinations (downward) (Fig. 12b). Overall, productivity in high density fields was the same in 1979 and 1980 fields, whereas productivity in low density fields was lower in 1980 than in 1979 (Fig. 12c). The Okeelanta Mill Lot Neof i ber population clearly did not show a higher rate of reproduction in low density fields in the 1979 and 1980 study periods. Neof i ber may, however, be capable of reproductive compensation. It is perhaps no coincidence that, among the 4 high

PAGE 57

48 Table 10. Productivity indices for post-harvest study fields by ratoon x density x year. Productivity index = No. embryos + No. .juveniles captured Number adult females captured 1979 1980 Low Density High Density Low Density High Density 2nd 3rd 2nd 3rd 2nd 3rd 2nd 3rd_ 1.3 1.0 1.4 2.0 4.0 2.5 1.4 2.2 0.0 0.0 2.7 2.3 2.5 0.8

PAGE 58

49 X •a c +-> o 3 o o s_ a. 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 /= 1980 /^ 1979 ^^^' « 1979 2'^^ i^atoon LD 1980 HD 3rd ratoon 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 . 0.5 HD 1979 1980 X T3 2.0 1.5 •M I 1.0 o sa. O) en (O s> <: 0.5 -o HD 1979 1980 Fig. 12. Interaction between density and ratoon (a) and density and year (b and c) effects on Neofiber average productivity indices. Average Productivity Index = Number of embryos + Number of juveniles Number adult females captured per ratoon x year or density x year combination, Neofiber density; HD = high Neofiber density. LD = low

PAGE 59

50 density ratoon x years, the ratoon x year with the lowest average number of juveniles captured per burrow system (second ratoon 1980) also had the highest average number of embryos per burrow system (Table 11). Capture Success in Plugged vs Unplugged Burrow Systems Burrow systems yielded fewer Neofiber on the plugged halves of 1979 study fields than on the unplugged halves (1.24 vs 1.73 Neofiber per burrow system, respectively). This difference was significant when field to field variation was removed and when x and y (burrow system length and width) were added as covariates (P<0.05). The x and y values were not correlated with treatment (plugged or not plugged), as would be expected because treatment was assigned randomly to halves. Tests for correlations between Neofiber captures and various burrow system and field parameters were thus conducted using only the plugged burrow systems. Captures may have been lower from plugged burrow systems because trap effort was lower or because plugging affected Neofiber behavior, making individuals in plugged systems somewhat less vulnerable to capture. Relationship of Capture Success to Burrow System and Field Statistics The sum of burrow system y-dimensions (distance across rows) per field (y-sum) was the single variable most highly correlated with Neofiber captures per field (Table 12), with an r^ value of 0.839. The number of burrow systems trapped per field (trap-bs) was the next most highly correlated (r^ = 0.803). Many of the other independent variables were also correlated with Neofiber captures and with each other. It is undesirable to use a large number of independent variables

PAGE 60

51

PAGE 61

52 -a

PAGE 62

53 in regression analysis when they are intercorrelated and observations are small (Kerlinger and Pedhazur 1973), as in this case. Moreover, y-sum and trap-bs are relatively easy statistics to obtain, and therefore are the most practical and economical variables upon which to base a prediction of Neofiber numbers. When all possible 2-variable models were tested, y-sum and density yielded the highest r value (0.871), and the trap-bs and y-sum model 2 was a close second (r = 0.867). Trap-bs could be obtained with no additional effort when y-sum is obtained, and for a larger sample of fields would probably be a more reliable predictor because density assumed only 2 values. The regression equation obtained using y-sum and trap-bs as predictors is y = 0.11 (y-sum) + 0.86 (trap-bs) 1.60, where y = the estimated number of Neofiber captures. The y-intercept did not vary significantly from zero (P = 0.16), therefore the equation was not forced through the origin. The predicted values are reasonably close to actual values (Appendix III), with only 3 fields having large differences in predicted and actual captures: 6 HN, 8 ES, and 34 CN. The actual number of Neofiber captures in these fields was just outside of the prediction interval in each case. The distribution of the residuals was close to normal, and the plot of residuals against Neofiber captures was random in pattern, indicating a good fit of the regression equation. The best 3-variable model (number of burrows plugged, y-sum, and 2 density) yielded an r of 0.903, and the best 4-variable model (burrows 2 plugged, burrows opened, y-sum, and density) increased r to 0.937. 2 None of the 5 to 10-variable models yielded r values greater than 0.944.

PAGE 63

54 Therefore, 4 variables are probably the most that should be used in a regression equation to estimate Neofiber numbers, particularly in light of the intercorrelations among predictors and relatively small sample size. In some instances, e.g. for research purposes, the additional 6,5 percent of variation in Neofiber captures explained by the 4-variable regression model may be worth the added effort of counting and plugging burrows and returning 48 h later to count reopened burrows. The regression equation obtained by using burrows plugged, burrows opened, y-sum and density is y = 0.10 (y-sum) + 10.36 (1 [low density field] or 2 [high density field]) + 0.21 (burrows opened) = 0.10 (burrows plugged) 8.53. As might be expected, the predicted Neofiber captures that deviated the most from actual values in the 2-variable model were improved in the 4-variable model (Appendix III). The Field 6 HN estimate improved dramatically with essentially equal actual and predicted values. The predicted value for Field 8 ES was only slightly improved, with an actual value still just outside of the prediction interval. Residuals were distributed normally and their plot-pattern was random. It may seem odd at first glance that the relationship between Neofiber captures and burrows plugged was negative. However, this means that for a given number of opened burrows, as the number of plugged burrows increased Neofiber captures declined. It does not seem unreasonable that Neofiber captures would decline as the proportion of burrows opened to burrows plugged decreased. In many cases, Neofiber may have already abandoned large systems with many burrows by the time I trapped them. The negative relationship between burrows plugged and Neof i ber captures probably resulted largely from the influence of 1979 third ratoon burrow systems. The burrow sytems of the other year x ratoon

PAGE 64

55 combinations had mean numbers of burrows that ranged from 6.1 to 13.1, whereas 1979 third ratoon systems in low and high density fields had means of 22.0 and 19.0 burrows, respectively (Table 13), Yet the latter burrow systems had relatively lov/er Neofiber captures (Table 13). Burrow systems in 1979 third ratoon high density fields also had a larger mean x-dimension (22.3 m) than systems in the other ratoon x years (6.8 to 18.1 m) (Table 13). Extensive systems that undermined long stretches of cane row, such as the one in the center of 16 GN-N and in the west-central portion of 14 GN-S (Appendix I), were unique to this ratoon x year. Large burrow systems in the other high density ratoon x years, such as one near the middle ditch in 6 DN-S (Appendix II), contained numerous groups of burrows less than 15 m apart. The regression equations described above could be used to estimate Neofiber density per field, provided that Neofiber captures from those systems selectively plugged and trapped were representative of capture success that might have been achieved had all burrow systems been trapped. There is no reason to suspect that the sampled burrow systems were not representative of all burrow systems. The grov/er or researcher may want to use a correction factor to adjust for the effect 1 73 of plugging burrows, i.e., multiplying the field estimate by 1.4 (= 'p. ),

PAGE 65

56

PAGE 66

LIVETRAPPED STUDY FIELDS Methods Burrow System Selection and Mapping After May, the rapidly growing sugarcane hides the burrow systems, and becomes increasingly difficult to penetrate. Thus, between May and harvest in the late fall or winter, fewer fields could be studied. Four second ratoon, high density half-fields (Appendix IV), were selected for livetrapping, 2 in May 1979 (14 CN and 6 BN) and 2 in May 1980 (8 GS and 24 CS). Half-fields were stratified and burrow systems were selected and mapped using the same methods described for 1980 postharvest study half-fields. Ten burrow systems in each of Fields 14 CN, 5 BN, and 8 GS were selected and studied between May and October in 1979 (14 CN and 6 BN) and 1980 (8 GS). These fields were harvested in November. Eleven burrow systems in Field 24 CS were studied between May 1980 and January 1931; this field was harvested in February. Paths to these systems were maintained monthly from August through harvest, when the maturing cane forms a tangle of stalks and leaves. These paths (2 per study field) ran the length of each halffield, and essentially divided it into thirds. All burrows present in May and new burrows appearing each month until harvest in the selected systems were staked, numbered, and mapped. The area surrounding each system was searched to find any new burrows within 15 m of already staked burrows. As the cane matured during the fall, the risk of missing some new burrows in the dense vegetation was 57

PAGE 67

58 greater. Already staked burrows were checked for fresh signs of Neofiber excavation each month. Burrow System Livetrapping The selected burrow systems in each half -field were livetrapped each month until harvest, using Japanese wire mesh live traps baited with fresh apple chunks (Fig. 13). Traps were set at active-looking old burrows (those found in previous month[s]) and at all new burrows. If no new burrows were found and no old ones looked active in a given system, traps were placed at old burrows such that all parts of the system were sampled. If no Neofiber were trapped for 2 consecutive months in a given system, trapping was discontinued in that system unless signs of activity reappeared. Burrow systems in the two 1979 fields were split into 2 groups by randomly selecting half of the systems on each path. (However, burrow systems <30 m apart were always trapped on the same night.) Each group in both fields was trapped on alternate nights for 8 consecutive nights. All of the selected systems in the two 1980 fields were trapped every other night for 6 consecutive nights. Thus there were 4 trap nights per burrow system per month in 1979 and 3 nights in 1980. Traps were set between 1600 h and dusk (later in summer than in fall) and were checked between dawn and 1100 h (earlier in summer than in fall). All muskrats were anesthetized with Metofane® on their first capture in order to measure them (total length, tail, hind foot). They were weighed using a Chatillon 600 g capacity spring scale, and eartagged with individually numbered Monel #1 fingerling tags in the right

PAGE 68

Fig. 13. A Japanese live trap (Honolulu Sales, Ltd., Honolulu, Hawaii). 59

PAGE 69

60 ear. All muskrats that were not radio-tagged were also toe-clipped for individual identification. Only the tips (just below the nail) and not entire digits were removed. Identification number(s), measurements, weight, sex, capture location (burrow number), burrow system, and field were recorded for each muskrat captured. Recaptured muskrats were not anesthetized unless remeasured. Occasionally one wriggled out of my grasp before both toe-clip and eartag numbers could be read, but on only one occasion did a marked individual escape before either number was determined. Neofiber were handled and released at the capture sites. Some of the study fields were liveor snaptrapped following, harvest. Burrow systems in 14 CN were trapped 5 nights immediately after harvest in November 1979 and 6 nights in December. This field was reexamined for signs of Neofiber activity in April 1980, and several old systems were trapped 7 nights in April. Field 8 GS was trapped 2 nights immediately after harvest in early November 1980, and 6 nights later in November; it was flooded with water discharged from the mill in early December. Field 6 BN was trapped 4 nights just before harvest in November 1979, but was plowed under shortly after harvest. Field 24 CS was not trapped either immediately before or after harvest in February 1981. Radiotracking A total of 47 radio collars was placed on 59 Neofiber in the livetrapped study fields and nearby fields (Fig. 14). Most of the radio collars were put on adult muskrats; a few were put on subadults. Radio collars (40) from the Denver Wildlife Research Center (DWRC)(Fig. 15)

PAGE 70

Fig. 14. Fitting a radio collar to an anesthetized round-tailed muskrat. 61

PAGE 71

|llll|nil|IMI|MII|MM|IJIIJIMI|llll|INIIIUI|MM|llll|llll|IMI|IIM|llll|MII|llll|IIM|lin|llll|IMI|MII|lin|IIM|llll|llll|HIYI^ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 1 CENTIMETERS | M ONE DECIMETER VA U3i3 I .-.;.;-• « I ooz oei oei on. 09i osi o»i oei ozi oti OOl oe os oz o9 I„„I„„I„„I,„,I„„I„„Im„Ih„I.,„I„.,I„..I.,..Im„I„„I„„I,„,I„„I.,„I,h.I„..ImmL„I,m.I„„Im,.Ih,.I.,.,I.,mI„„ Fiq 15 Radio transmitter collars from the Denver Wildlife Research Center (left) and AVM Instrument Co. (right). 62

PAGE 72

63 had modified whip antennas, made of 3 mm wide copper strap, that were attached around muskrats' necks by pull -through beaded plastic straps. Both straps were covered with heat-shrink tubing. Radio collars (7) frcm AVM Instrument Co. (AVM)(Fig. 15) were SM 1 rodent-type collars with ccntinuous loop antennas made of plastic coated, stranded copper wire. The antenna-collar is designed to fold back on itself to adjust to the proper neck size, and is held in place by a piece of heat-shrink tubing. All transmitters operated in the 164.425 to 164.700 MHz frequency range, were powered by Hg-675 1.35 v batteries, and weighed 5 to 6 g. The AVM transmitter package was protected by inner coatings of epoxy and paraffin, and an outer layer of dental acrylic. The DWRC transmitters were coated with various substances in an effort to improve waterproofing. Twenty DWRC radios were used between August and December 1979, and 20 DWRC and 7 AVM radios were used between June 1980 and January 1981. Three-element hand-held Yagi antennas and 2 AVM LA-12 receivers were used to locate radioed Neofiber approximately (e.g., to a burrow system). Muskrats could be located to the nearest burrow by removing the Yagi and placing the coaxial cable connector in burrow entrances, gradually decreasing the range of signal reception by turning down the receiver's gain control. If an individual muskrat could not be located in the burrow system in which it was previously radio-located, the 2 paths in each study field were searched using 3-element Yagis. Attempts to find missing radios were also made by driving around the field perimeter (except along middle ditches), checking in all directions every 30 m. While most of the AVM radios could probably be received in this manner (range

PAGE 73

64 150 to 200 m in standing cane), many of the DWRC radios could probably not be received (range 30-60 m in standing cane). The modified whip antenna (a dipole antenna) has less gain than the continuous loop. This may be true because the loop antenna can be tuned to maximize the extent to which the rat's body acts as an antenna, or because the dipole is inefficient when adapted to fit a rat's neck. When the study fields had been harvested, 4-element Yagis were mounted on either Honda ATC 110' s or in a null-peak system on a truck, and fields were searched by riding or driving transects, 30 m apart, that ran the length of the fields. Stops were made at 30 m intervals to check for all radios not accounted for. When 8 GS was flooded following harvest in December 1980, we used a canoe and 4-element Yagis to search for 3 radio-collared Neof i ber that were known to be alive before flooding, and to check for signs of Neof i ber presence (houses and feeding platforms). Burrow Systems Trapped in Addition to Selected Systems From June through harvest, 1979 and 1980, new burrow systems were found in some of the livetrapped fields, either because of their proximity to systems selected for study in May, or because a radio-tagged Neof i ber moved to a previously unmapped system. Burrows in new systems were included in the monthly livetrapping. Burrow systems discovered through radiotracking were trapped but burrows were not mapped. Some burrow systems present in May were trapped in later months, as time permitted, to increase the chance of recapturing a marked Neof i ber that might have moved to another system. All of the burrow systems trapped

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65 in addition to the originally selected 41 burrow systems are referred to as additional systems. Mortalities Female Neof i ber that died in traps or while wearing radio collars were examined internally to determine reproductive status. All muskrats that died while wearing radio collars underwent necropsy to determine if the collars were the probable cause of death, unless predation was clearly the cause. Several muskrats not wearing collars, both marked and unmarked, were found shortly after death above ground. These were also examined internally to check for grossly visible abnormalities. Lung tissue from one of these specimens was preserved and given to Dr. Donald J. Forrester, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Florida, for pathology analysis. All Neof i ber skulls found in trapped burrow systems in 1980 study fields were collected. Ectoparasite Collection Ectoparasites were collected from 5 Neof i ber and 5 Sigmodon captured in several burrow systems in 8 GS in October 1980. Rats were anesthetized, laid on a 0.5 x 0.5 m plastic sheet, and dusted with 0.9 percent pyrethrins. Then debris from their fur was brushed onto the sheet. Material collected on the sheet was transferred to a plastic bag. Samples were examined within 24 h under a dissecting microscope at 20X, and parasites were pooled by host species and preserved. Specimens collected from Neof i ber were submitted to Dr. Harvey Cromroy, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and those from Sigmodon to Thomas Rogers, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, for identification.

PAGE 75

66 Results Meofiber Captures and Burrowing Activity The range in total number of individual Meof i ber captured per burrow system between May and October was 2 to 13 in 1979 and 2 to 9 in 1980; the overall mean was 4.6 (Fig. 16). Mean Neof i ber captures per burrow system per month, including only those burrow systems with at least one Neo fiber capture per month, varied considerably in trend between fields, but the means for the whole study periods were highly consistent between fields: 1.72 to 1.80 (Table 14). The majority of means did not differ from each other by more than 1 SE. Mean Neof i ber captures per burrow system within months over all fields showed a consistent decline (although with overlapping confidence intervals) except in September, when high field means for 8 GS and 24 CS boosted the overall mean. The number of burrow systems in which Neof i ber were captured declined between May and October, or May and January (Table 14). The frequency distribution of Neof i ber captures per burrow systemmonth was similar in the 4 study fields (Fig. 17). A burrow systemmonth is one burrow system trapped in one month. An average of 60 burrow system-months was trapped per field (range 57 to 54) between May and October. Overall, burrow systems most frequently had 1 (35 percent of a total of 239 burrow system-months), (28 percent), or 2 (24 percent) Neof i ber captures per month. In only 30 (13 percent) of the burrow system-months were 3 or more Neof i ber captured. Total monthly Neof i ber captures per field varied in trend between fields (Fig. 18). Fields 14 CN and 8 GS showed a sharp decline in captures from May to June, and a decline from September to October. Field 6 BN showed an increase in captures from May to July, and a sharp decrease from July

PAGE 76

67 Fig. 16. B V +J c/l 3 O i. sCO 4 3 2 1 14 CN m 3 l5 7 9 X = 4.8 4 3 2 h 6 BM D 3 1 5 7 9 X = 4.7 4 3 2 ] 11 13 8 GS 1 3 I 5 7 9 X = 4.3 4 3 2 1 ^ \ s. s N 6.1 24 CS m a 1 TJl 7 9 11 13 X = 4.5 Number of Individuals Captured H„*e. of i^aividualNeilibe, captured pe.bu..ow^syste.i^^^ ^^^ Florida sugarcane fields, len ourruw y ,,.._„ ngyg. lO burrow [T-„l BN^were sampled from fj ^'lltJel^.r'rm May through cwc+pm-; in Field 3 GS and U in
PAGE 77

68 II

PAGE 78

69

PAGE 79

70 -o s. 4-> a. as O

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71 to September. Field 24 CS captures fluctuated down and up with no apparent overall trend. Most of the burrow systems continued to show signs of Neofiber activity through October 1979. Trapping was discontinued because of inactivity in three systems for a total of 7 months: V in 14 CN (AugustOctober 1979), G in 8 GS (September-October 1980), and G in 24 CS (September-October 1980) (Appendix IV a,c,d). Burrow systems varied considerably in size and number of burrows, both when they were first mapped in May, and when they were last examined before harvest. The largest numbers of Neofiber were captured, not surprisingly, in the largest burrow systems: 14 CN P (9 individuals), 6 BN Q (13), 8 GS A (9), and 24 CS K (13) (Appendices IV and V). The relationship between burrowing activity and Neofiber captures was not always as clearcut as one might expect, however. In 6 BN (Fig. 19a), for example, Neofiber captures and burrowing activity diverged sharply in August and September. In the other 3 fields (Fig. 19 a and b), captures and activity were more similar in trend, and all fields showed a decline in activity near the end of the study periods. Overall, the correlation between number of Neof i ber captured per month and number of active burrows per month was not significant (P>0.05). The mean number of new burrows that appeared per burrow system per month ranged from 1.7 to 13.5 (Fig. 20), with an overall mean of 6.8 from May to October. There was a decline from May to October or January in new burrowing activity in all fields that was particularly marked in the last month before harvest (October in 14 CN, 6 BN and 8 GS; January in 24 CS). This was also the month in which the fewest Neofiber were captured in all fields except 24 CS. The mean number of new burrows

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72 O 14 CN -a (U i3 4J Q. (O CJ (/I rc -a •a c o cu 20 16 12 8 4 20 16 12 8 4 Jun — I — Jul — r — Aug Sep O O Active burrows 9 Number individuals captures —I — Jun — I — Jul 175 150 125 100 75 50 25 Oct 1979 120 100 80 60 40 20 o sSCQ > u CD Aug Sep Oct 1979 Fig. 19a. Relationship between number of Neof i ber captured and burrowing activity per month in 2 Florida sugarcane fields studied in 1979. Number of active burrows includes burrows found in previous month (s) that were still active and new burrows.

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73 o o E 20 16 12 i 8 4 24 CS 24 20 ^ 16 12 8 4 4 r 100 80 60 40 20 — I 1 1 1 1 1 1 I Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Mov Dec Jan '80'81 O— — — O Active Burrows • • Neofiber Captured 8 GS r 150 125 100 75 50 25 o s. i. 3 CQ ss Z3 Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct '80 Fig. 19b. Relationship between number of Neof i ber captured and burrowing activity per month in 2 Florida sugarcane fields studied in 1930. Number of active burrows includes burrows found in previous month(s) that were still active and new burrows.

PAGE 83

74 +-> to >1 u) i03 a. (/I o ss3 J3 sc 12 1 10 4 \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ n ^ :i^ May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Fig. 21, Monthly means ± SE of newburrows per burrow system trapped (9 to 11 per field) in 4 study fields. One field, 24 CS, was studied in 3 additional months; the average numbers of new burrows per system in this field is shown by shaded bars in Nov-Jan. — New burrows are those that have appeared since the period, except in May, which are burrows that were systems were initially mapped. previous mapping present when burrow

PAGE 84

75 appearing monthly per system during the May through September periods was 7.4; the mean for October was 3.7. Thus during the May through September study periods, a monthly average of 4.1 burrows (7.4/1.8) was produced per Neofiber captured, while in October, an average of 2.4 burrows (3.7/1.5) was produced per individual captured. The mean number of burrows per system at the end of the study periods were 56.3 (14 CN), 34.5 (6 BN), 46.2 (8 GS), and 32.6 (24 CS). Field 24 CS had the lowest mean despite having 3 extra months (November through January) during which new burrows could have been added. A large portion of this field was flooded in August and September, which prevented burrowing in many systems during this period. Population Sex and Age Structure Because Fields 14 CN, 6 BN, and 8 GS were trapped immediately before or after they were harvested in November, all Neofiber captures from May through November, 1979 and 1980, were used to examine population sex and age structure. When data from all fields were combined, the ratio of adult and subadult males to females was nearly 1:1, but varied considerably between fields (Table 15). The greatest divergences from 1:1 occurred in 14 CN with 2.2 subadult males:l subadult female and 24 CS, with 2.2 adult females:! adult male. The numbers involved, however, are small, and the overall 1:1 ratio should probably be considered to represent the true situation. The numbers of juveniles captured per field were even smaller (Table 15). Total captures, including those from additional burrow systems (p. 102) included 24 females, 18 males, and 1 of sex unknown.

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76 Table 15. Total Neof i ber captures, classified by sex and age, from 4 Florida sugarcane fields. Individuals trapped from May through November 1979 in Fields 14 CN and 6 BN, and May through November • 1980 in 8 GS and 24 CS. N = number of burrow systems trapped. Field

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77 The numbers of young animals (subadults and juveniles) per adult female also varied considerably between fields, and probably reflect real field differences in reproductive output (embryos produced) or success (young surviving long enough to be captured): 2.3 (14 CN), 2.3 (24 CS), 1.3 (8 GS), and 0.9 (6 BN). The number of new adults appearing each month declined in all fields between May and November; in 24 CS, 5 new adults appeared in December (Fig. 21). The appearance of young Neofiber (subadults plus juveniles) was more sporadic (Fig. 21). In 14 CN and 24 CS, a large proportion of the young animals was captured in May and June. Another pulse of young appeared in 24 CS in September and October, while only a few more young appeared in 14 CN in August and September. Patterns in 6 BN and 8 GS were less evident, perhaps because fewer young were captured. Most of the young animals that appeared in these fields were captured in August. Adult associations In most of the burrow systems trapped (36/41) at least one adult male and female were captured over the 7-month study periods, and in 30 systems, adults of both sexes were captured within the same trapping period. Two or more adult females were captured in 15 systems over the study periods; 2 or more adult males were captured in 22 systems. However, within monthly trapping periods, only 5 burrow systems had simultaneous captures of 2 males, and 5 had simultaneous captures of 2 females. In only 2 cases did both same-sex adults continue to be trapped in the same system; almost invariably one or both were not recaptured or one was known to have moved to a different system. One

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12 9 6 3 La 78 14 CN EM j=a Hay Oun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov '79 -a s3 +-> C o -a 12 9 6 3 ^ a 6 BN Ad D Subad Q + Juv ^nn n n jz:z2 May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov '79 O) 12 9 6 3 71 tar/ 8 GS ' 1^^ May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov '30 12 9 6 3 i y 24 CS a .ZZL n ;^ n>1 r-P^ 3. p: May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan '81 Fig. 21. Number of new Neof i ber captured and marked each month in 4 Florida sugarcane fields.

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79 exception was in 14 CN U, with adult males Nos. 14 and 19 (Appendix V). This was a large burrow system (over 90 burrows), and males Nos. 14 and 19 were yery likely to have been siblings, since they were similarsized subadults captured near each other with an adult female in May 1979. In burrow system P in the same field, adult female No. 48 was captured over the same 4-month period in which subadult female No. 25 matured into an adult (Appendix V). Neither adult female was recaptured in P following this period; female No. 48 was ultimately recaptured in U in December 1979, following harvest. 14 CN P was also a large system, and females Nos. 48 and 25 appear to have maintained separate ranges. Adult female-juvenile associations Juvenile captures from all burrow systems trapped were combined to examine adult femalejuvenile associations; primarily within-month captures were considered, therefore identical periods of study for each burrow system were unnecessary. Of 43 juveniles captured or located in the 4 study fields, 34 (79 percent) were at or near (less than 5 m from) an adult female's capture location(s). Seven juvenile females and 2 juvenile males were not captured near an adult female. Twenty-five juveniles were captured at new burrows (ones appearing in the month of capture or one month previously) and 13 were captured from older burrows, despite the fact that more old burrows were available to them. Totals of 541 new and 797 old burrows were available in the systems in which juveniles were captured. More old burrows were available in the systems in which juveniles were captured at new burrows (427 new vs 550 old), and in the systems in which juveniles were captured at old burrows (183 vs 321 old). Thus, adult females appear to have had a preference for

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80 rearing young in new burrows. Five juveniles were captured at burrows mapped in May, thus the age of these burrows could not be determined. Survival Fields 14 CN and 24 CS had relatively high proportions of burrow systems in which young Neofiber were captured (8/10 and 10/11, respectively), and were known to survive to maturity (5/8 and 5/10). However, only in 14 CN was a large proportion of young captured known to survive to maturity (10/21) (Table 16). Offspring in 24 CS survived relatively better than in 6 BN and 8 GS (5 of 24 captured by September survived to adulthood). Several young died in traps, and necropsy revealed that they had no visible fat around internal organs, raising the question of whether they might have been near starvation before entering the traps. Young that were later recaptured as adults gained an average of 24 g (males) and 21 g (females) per month during this transition, while young that were recaptured but not as adults gained an average of 14 g (males) and 15 g (females) per month (Fig. 22). All but one of the young individuals that were recaptured as adults (Fig. 22a) were subadults on initial capture, whereas most of the young animals recaptured but not as adults (Fig. 22b) were initially captured as juveniles. There was considerable variation in weight changes of recaptured young, as indicated by the large SE (Fig. 22). Three subadults and 1 juvenile lost weight between captures, and were never recaptured as adults. Clearly, some young were retarded in their development. For example, subadult male No. 39 (Appendix V) was captured in 6 BN R in May, June, and July 1979, and weighed 135, 150, and 130 g, respectively.

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81 Table 16. Proportion of juvenile and subadult Neofiber , captured between May and September 1979 and 1980, known to have survived to adulthood in 4 Florida sugarcane fields. Field Subad cc Subad 9 Juvd* Juv9 14 CN

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82 a) o B 10 t/i O o as +J 01 0) 50 40 . 30 •

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83 He also had a heavy mite (Acarina) infestation, particularly around his eyes. Assuming that he was at least 30 days old at first capture (since his body measurements met subadult criteria), he was at least 90 days old when last captured in July, and could potentially have reached adult size. Subadults were recaptured as adults after a mean of 1.9 months (males) and 1.6 months (females), range 1-3 months. Juvenile male No. 116 (Appendix V: 24 CS C) was considered to have reached adulthood in September 1980, when testicular development was visible externally, and his weight reached 190 g, the maximum weight he attained. Assuming he was approximately 30 days old when initially captured in May, he matured in 150 days, which is longer than would be expected on the basis of data from known-age, captive Neofiber . One other juvenile, female No. 176 (Appendix V) attained adult size in just 2 months (approximate age 90 days). Because she was captured in an additional system, 8 GS N, she was not included in Table 15 and Fig. 22a. She gained 75 g per month for 2 months (male No. 116 gained an average of only 24 g per month) to reach an adult weight of 220 g. Recaptured juveniles and subadults that were not recaptured as adults were captured in an average of 2.3 months, range 1-4 months. Eleven juveniles were recaptured, but not as adults (Fig. 22b). Nine of these, captured in 2 consecutive months, had gained a mean of 17 g (one lost weight), and still did not exceed 115 g at their second capture; 3 of the 9 were remeasured and their TBI's and BL's met subadult criteria, even though their weights did not. Juvenile male No. 179

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84 (Appendix V: 8 GS E), in contrast, gained 105 g between his first capture in August and last capture in October 1980. A total of 8 Neofiber (Nos. 6, 10, 17 and 18 from 14 CN, No. 36 from 6 BN, and Nos. 116, 128, and 130 from 24 CS; Appendix V) survived the entire May to November study periods. One individual (male No. 29 from 14 CN and G) was known to have survived 9 mo (September 1979 to April 1980). Because the number of new adults that appeared after August differed among fields (Fig. 21), recapture success of only those adults initially captured from May through August and recaptured no later than November was examined (Table 17). The overall mean number of trapping periods (months) over which individual adult Neofiber were captured did not differ significantly by sex (P>0.05). Field means (sexes combined) ranged from 2.4 to 2.8 months, and were within 1 SE of each other. However, a smaller proportion of monthly captures, particularly of young Neofiber . were recaptures in Fields 6 BN and 8 GS than in Fields 14 CN and 24 CS (Fig. 23). Radiotracking The fate of individual Neofiber wearing radio collars varied considerably (Appendix VI). Some apparently tolerated the collars fairly well (Fig. 24) and were radio-located over periods of several weeks or even several months; others developed neck irritation within a week after the collars were put on, and five deaths were attributed to wearing of radio collars. In only one of these cases was my attachment of the collar clearly at fault. Neck abrasions and lesions were also reported on radio-collared nutria ( Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana (Coreil and Perry 1977). Adult female No. 300 was located at 14 CN K shortly

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85 Table 17. Mean number of trapping periods (months) over which adult male and female Neof i ber were livetrapped in 4 study fields. Means include individuals initially trapped from May through August 1979 (Fields 14 CN and 6 BN), or May through August 1980 (Fields 8 GS and 24 CS).

PAGE 95

86 -a i~ 3 +J Q. ra U (U oc to 4-> a so a. o s. a. 1.00 ^ 0.80 0.60 0.40 0.20 CvJ .— I <^ CM .— I .—I CO IJO CM LO i-H c3or /I / L 00 1—1 CO 1—1 o / v V / / z. ^ z CM 1 — I 14 May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct I I Combined data, Fields 14 CN and 24 CS 1.00 0.80 0.60 0.40 ^ 0.20 o CM Combined data, Fields 6 BN and 8 GS CT> CM I— ( 00 y ^3IX) o -^ 1—1 CM 00 CX3 CM a -/ / / _z, 00 o May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Fig. 23. Monthly recapture success of adult and young (subadult and juvenile) Neofiber in 4 study fields. Fields 14 CN and 6 BM were trapped in 1979, Fields 24 CS and 8 GS were trapped in 1980.

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N >^-^ ^^iC^ Fig. 24. Captive radio-collared muskrat digging a burrow. 87

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88 after her death; her collar was too loose, and her foreleg was cut, presumably by the beaded strap, because she had placed the leg between the collar and her neck. She was emaciated and there were no other signs of injury or disease to indicate that the collar was not the primary factor causing death. This female was among the first muskrats radio-collared, and care was taken not to make subsequent attachments too loose. Neofiber males Nos. 405 and 493 died very shortly after their collars were put on (3 or 4 days) and also showed no evidence of predator or disease-related mortality, Male No, 89 was radio-collared shortly after harvest in 14 CN, and was found to have a heavy mite infestation and no body fat when he died two days later. Female No. 26 was located in several new burrows shortly before her death; she may have been attempting to start a new burrow system. She also was emaciated, and one of her forepaws was abraded, as if perhaps she had tried to remove the collar. It is possible that some of the radio-collared muskrats were already stressed by such factors as lack of food, disease, or parasitism, and that the collars, acting as additional stressors, rapidly accelerated their deaths. Or perhaps there were considerable behavioral differences between individuals, e.g., in burrowing activity, distances moved, or interaction with conspecifics. These hypotheses would help to explain why some individuals, such as female No, 164, were able to wear radio collars for much longer periods with no apparent harm. Three radio-collared Neofiber were found within hours after their deaths, and they appeared to be the victims of predators. Three others were killed by human activity (one mortality was probably caused by

PAGE 98

89 harvest, one by postharvest discing, and one when a live-trap door shut on the animal's neck). The remaining 9 muskrats that were known to have died while wearing radios were too decomposed to permit determination of cause of death. Radio collars probably affected the behavior of the muskrats wearing them, but they enabled detection of movements that would otherwise have been missed. Use of radio collars also revealed that some Neof i ber were present but not trapped in studied burrow systems. Most of the radio transmitter malfunction was caused by water penetrating the protective outer coating. Several types of epoxy were tried as insulation, and the most suitable one for the conditions encountered in this study proved to be Epoxi-Patch*^ 309 (Hysol Division of the Dexter Corp.). Many of the transmitters put on muskrats in October 1980 in 8 GS and December 1980 in 24 CS had undergone a battery change, and may have been prone to stop functioning earlier than anticipated (e.g., the radios put on Nos. 21, 30, 46, 229, and 59: Appendix VI). Interburrow System Movements Although the total numbers of individual adult males and females captured were nearly equal (Table 15), and overall survival was similar (Table 17), adult females tended to be recaptured in the same burrow system over a longer period (x = 2.4 mo) than males (x = 1.9 mo). However, this difference was not significant (P>0.05). More male than female movements to different burrow systems (31 vs 10) were detected. Thus while both sexes were obviously capable of both longdistance moves (Appendix IV) and long-term utilization of a single

PAGE 99

90 system (Appendix V), in general males tended to do more of the former and less of the latter than females. In 24 CS, however, 6 female and 7 male movements were detected. Two of the female movements (female No. 206 from F to T and female No. 56 from K to W) would not have been detected and a third (female No. 26 from D to S) might not have been detected had these females not been wearing radio collars. Thus, given such small numbers, it is impossible to determine if females in 24 CS actually behaved differently than females in the other 3 fields, or if relatively long moves are fairly typical of females, also, and by chance were only detected in 24 CS. Two of the 1.0 females known to have left a system were determined to have returned to the same system; in both cases the movements barely exceeded 15 m. One of the 10 was found dead in new burrows and obviously could not have returned. An eleventh female (No. 142) was found dead in 8 HS shortly after harvest of 8 GS (Appendix IVc). She was not counted as one of the females that moved because I could not be certain if she moved to 8 HS herself or was carried there by a scavenger or predator. Eight of the 31 males that left a burrow system were known to have returned to the same system; 6 of the 8 returned to burrow systems in which an adult female was captured in the same trapping period. Five of the 10 females that moved went to previously undetected burrow systems, and were not recaptured or relocated in their original capture locations. Only 6 of 31 males moved to previously unmapped burrow systems, and did not return to their original capture location or another previously mapped burrow system. Five of the 6 were found dead in new burrow system locations and could not have returned.

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91 Fourteen adult females were radio-located in the same burrow systems where they were originally captured in at least 2 consecutive months (58 percent of all radio-collared adult females). Only 6 males (20 percent of all radio-collared adult males) were located in the same burrow systems in at least 2 consecutive months. Thus male and female movements from a burrow system appear to serve different functions. Males may be wandering among adjacent burrow systems in search of receptive females, while female moves appear more often to represent permanent dispersal to a new area. Females Nos. 130, 26, 206, and 56 were very likely to have been the founders of burrow systems 0, S, T, and W in 24 CS, respectively. A particularly strong case can be made for female No. 130. As mentioned earlier, maturing cane is a very dense growth, and it would be extremely difficult to find all of the burrows in a given area. However, burrow system appeared just east of D; a little further down the same rows, and on the path we used every month to get to D (Appendix IVd). Therefore, I am certain that appeared between the June and July 1980 study periods. There were just 6 burrows in in July, and only female No. 130 was captured here. Subadult male No. 169 (also from D) appeared there in August, and a new adult male, No. 200, in September. In two cases, a relatively short female movement may have been associated with reproduction. Female No. 26 at burrow system S in 14 CN (Appendix V) moved several rows north of her previous range and was recaptured at new burrows with a newborn Neofiber (presumably born in the trap). Female No. 154 moved approximately 20 m from 8 GS K to

PAGE 101

92 A between the June and July trapping periods, and a juvenile male was captured near her at A in September (Appendix V). An example of adult male movement among different systems in which adult females were captured was demonstrated by male No. 75 in 14 CN (Fig. 25). No. 75 was originally captured in August 1979 at J, as was adult female No. 77. He was recaptured in August 1979 at B, near adult female No. 235, and both were radio-collared. Six movements by No. 75 between B and K were detected in August, September, and October. Adult female No. 300 was captured and radio-collared at K in September. She was also located at J in October, but returned to K, where she was found dead on 23 October. Male No. 75 was last located at K on 20 October; he had moved to L by 22 October and was located there 4 more times before he was killed by a predator in November. Adult female No. 77, originally captured at J, was recaptured at L in October. Thus in a two-month period. No. 75 was captured at 4 separate burrow systems, and was known to have shared those systems with at least 3 different adult females. No other adult males were captured at these systems, although male No. 6 was radio-located at M, which was nearby (Fig. 25). Several adult male movements between two burrow systems were detected, either by radio-locations or recaptures. No. 80 moved back and forth between 14 CN S and five times between his initial capture in September and last radio-location in October 1979 (Appendix V). Adult female No. 26 was captured at S in September (with a newborn muskrat) and October; an adult female was also captured at in September and she appeared to be pregnant. No. 68 moved between 6 BN R and V 3 times within 7 days in August 1979 (Appendix V). An adult female (No. 63) was captured at V in August, and adult female No. 49

PAGE 102

CO CM 93 a "a; o +-> CO >, CO 3 O su •-3 j3 o ^ en I — o SOJ in jD E O O +J •rCJ -»-> O fO O T3 O C <— (13 Q.-I-) i3 +-> cn -a >=c c re C CD O O) •r2 a +J (T3 O) CM Ol

PAGE 103

94 was captured at R in July and September. Male No. 43 moved back and forth between 6 BN H and J (Appendix V), returning to H after an adult female captured near him at J died (perhaps he returned to H as a result of her death). Two adult females (Nos. 42 and 72) were captured at H in different months from each other, but the same months in which male No. 43 was captured at H. Despite the greater use of radio collars in 1980 than in 1979, very few back-and-forth movements by males between burrow systems were detected (Appendix IV c-d). In 24 CS, male No. 118 moved from M to A between May and June 1980, and was recaptured at M in September. Adult females Nos. 146 and 191 were captured at M and A, respectively, between May and September. Male No. 237 and female No. 23 were each radiolocated several times at N in 24 CS, twice in the same burrow (once in October and once in November 1980). Male No. 237 moved to K in November, then his transmitter quit. He was recaptured at K in December, but his neck was abraded, and a new collar could not be put on him. Thus No. 237 could have moved back to N undetected. Two adult males, Nos. 400 and 158, were both radio-located in two adjacent fields. No. 400 (Fig. 26) was radio-located over a longer period, and moved back and forth between 8 FS and 8 GS several times. Most of his daytime locations were at A in 8 FS (6 locations) or along the ditch between 8 FS and 8 GS (9 locations). Three adult females were captured at different times in 8 FS A during the period over which No. 400 was tracked. Only one was radio-collared (No. 499), and her transmitter malfunctioned shortly after she received it (Appendix VI). She was also located on the ditchbank between the two fields. The other males radio-collared in 8 FS (Fig. 26), at burrow systems B and C,

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95 H CM O' j^' (N goo ti CC =1 O CTi "Xl r^ CM "—I O CTi O O O O ^ ":3^3"=r =!"^ "=T * "bo o'b t) ^ n O "O "O TD "O "D "O O ct d <; et cc ct: C CD (« "O >« r5 5 o o 3 3 CD CO O) • JD -t-> E s0) CO +-> Q. O. (O QJ C/0 E o tn >^ C I— ro 3 -C X I/) 1/5 W1 -D CU r— r— 0) •1to >+s o C &O X3 s(o ^ai o to irt D. 3 O S-o o a; +j > (/) 3 <4O o s~ il/l 3 +j> CO 0) E • O) o > CO O CTi C\J

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96 were not located in other burrow systems, but did move between two separate groups of burrows, less than 15 m apart, within each system. Male No. 407 and female No. 406 were located in the same burrow in B^ (Fig. 26) on two consecutive days in July 1980. Male No. 158 (Fig. 27) was not relocated in 8 GS after moving to 8 HS in September 1980. He was found dead in 8 HS one month after receiving a radio. Adult female No. 154 was radio-located 8 times at 6 different burrows in the eastern portion of 8 GS A during September and October (Fig. 27). In contrast to the wandering behavior exhibited by some of the adult males described above, adult male No. 27 displayed relatively sedentary behavior. He was initially captured as a subadult at 14 CN D in July 1979, and was recaptured as an adult at C in September and October. He was radio-collared in October, and was located 17 times (days) at C between October and December, when the transmitter quit. He was definitely still alive when last radio-located, and had dug several new burrows at 14 CN C following harvest. (He was radiolocated in these burrows and no other rat was ever captured at C). One other small piece of evidence indicated that adult males may have wandered out of burrow systems relatively frequently. In September 1980, I set live traps at 15 m intervals for 3 consecutive nights along an east-west transect south of burrow systems D and in 24 CS, intending to give a student assistant experience in toe-clipping and eartagging roof and cotton rats. Adult male No. 200 was captured once 9 m due south of the southernmost burrows in (Appendix V). There were no burrows found in the vicinity. Subadult female No. 491 and subadult male No. 20 (Appendix V:8 GS N and 0) were radio-located only in the systems where they were

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97 8HS N grass road ditch O B 15 30m Adcfl58 ^ Ad 9 154 (Burrow locations) X Burrow in ditch bank A"0 Burrow systems Fig. 27. Movement and burrow locations of 2 radio-collared Neofiber , in one or two Florida sugarcane fields, September and October 1980.

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98 originally captured. However, each was tracked for only a 1-month period. Subadult male No. 210 moved from 24 CS N to the westernmost burrows in K (Appendix IVd), then moved back to N between December 1980 and January 1981. Subadult male No. 169 appeared to follow adult female No. ISO's move from 24 CS D to (Appendix V). Female No. 206 was the only subadult known to have moved a large distance: she travelled approximately 100 m from 24 CS F to T between 27 October and 6 November 1980. She was located at T on 10 more occasions (days) between 6 November and 18 December. Adult male No. 61 was also radio-collared at 24 CS T on 16 December, but he had moved to U (Appendix IVd) by 18 December. Additional Burrow Systems In Field 14 CN (Appendix IVa), burrow system B was trapped in order to obtain Neofiber for radio-tracking. Systems K and L were found while tracking male No. 75, and M was found because of its proximity to these systems (Fig. 25). Subadult male No. 27 was captured at 14 CN C after this burrow system, which was discovered in May but appeared to be inactive, showed signs of fresh activity in September. Following harvest in November, Q, W, X, and Y, originally mapped in May, were trapped in an effort to recover any marked Neof i ber that might have moved to these systems, but no muskrats were captured. Ten active burrow systems were found in the south half of 14 CN following harvest and were also trapped; 11 Neofiber were captured, all unmarked. When 14 CN was re-surveyed in April 1980, burrow system N, where male No. 29 was captured, was the only system found that appeared to be active. The entire field was covered with cressleaf groundsel

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99 ( Senedo glabellus ), thus some Neofiber activity may have been overlooked. Several inactive-looking systems were trapped, but no other muskrats were captured. In 6 BN (Appendix IVb), burrow systems N, I, K, and L were trapped in order to obtain Neofiber for radiotracking. Adult male No. 315 moved from N to D, both of which were present in May 1979. No muskrats were captured at I, K, or L. Systems W, B, and V (all mapped in May) were trapped because of their proximity to selected systems; expansion of burrow systems Q and R, in particular, made trapping of additional systems necessary (Appendix V). Burrow systems X and C, also mapped in May, were trapped after male No. 36 was radio-located there. Only one new system, S, was discovered in 6 BN before harvest, through radiotracking. Burrow system T was discovered after harvest through radiotracking. (Male No. 85 was radio-located at P after 6 BN was burned, and at T one week after harvest was completed.) Five active burrow systems were found in the south half of 6 CN, the next field north of 5 BN in December 1979 (both halves of 6 BN were disced after harvest). Two Neofiber , both unmarked, were captured from these systems. Eight burrow systems in 8 GS were trapped because of their proximity to selected systems: Q, P, M, R, 0, L, K, and N (Appendix IVc). All of these appeared after May 1980 except K, which was present but not trapped in May because time was limited. Neofiber were trapped in all of these systems except Q. Burrow system S was trapped to obtain muskrats for radiotracking. Only burrow system T was located through radiotracking. A total of 8 additional burrow systems was trapped in 24 CS (Appendix IVd). Systems N and L were present in May but trapped in

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100 subsequent months. System J was trapped only from May through July because it appeared to become inactive. Systems 0, R, Q, V, P, and X were found between May and November, and T and W were found through radiotracking. Neofiber were captured in a total of 25 additional burrow systems in the study fields (Appendix VII). In 15 of these systems, at least one of the Neofiber captured, usually an adult male, was from or moved to one of the 41 selected burrow systems. The trapping effort in the additional systems with at least one Neof i ber capture was highly variable, and generally lower than in the selected systems. Nevertheless, the average number of adult males and females captured per burrow system was close to that from the selected systems (1.09 and 0.96 males; 1.12 and 0.96 females per system in selected and additional systems, respectively). Adult captures per burrow system were similar in pattern to those in selected systems: a single male and female capture per burrow system (with or without young) was most common, followed by captures of 2 or more adult males or females (Appendix VII), usually with successive rather than simultaneous captures of same sex adults (burrow systems 8 GS K, L, M, N, and 24 CS N and are shown in Appendix V). In 2 burrow systems young Neofiber only were captured, and both were subadults close to adult size. Including Neofiber captures from all burrow systems trapped, totals of 127 individual adults (60 males, 67 females), 63 subadults (33 males, 30 females), and 43 juveniles (18 males, 24 females, 1 sex unknown) were captured in the 4 study fields. Thus the ratio of adults:subadults:juveniles was 3.0:1.5:1.0, and an average of 0.64 juvenile per

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101 adult female was captured. Juveniles were born in all months between May and November with no consistent seasonal trend among fields. Overall, more juveniles appeared from August to November (22) than from May to July (11) (Table 18). More than 3 times as many juveniles were captured in 1980 as in 1979. This appears to have been primarily the result of greater trapping effort in newly formed burrow systems in 8 GS in 1980; very few new systems were found in the 1979 study fields. In 24 CS, however, the majority of juveniles was trapped in selected systems (Tables 15 and 18). Mortality Trap related A total of 7 adults died in traps: 2 in 14 CN, 3 in 6 BN, 1 in 8 GS, and 1 in 24 CS. Two were killed by trap doors that prematurely closed before the muskrats had completely entered the traps. The others appeared to have died from fire ant attack, heat stress, or a combination of these factors. Newsom, Perry, and Schilling (1976) found no evidence that fire ants ( Solenopsis sp.) attacked Ondatra in Louisiana coastal marshes, despite reports they received of fire ant predation on young muskrats in nests. Most of the adult mortality (5/7) occurred in the first few months of trapping in 1979. Trap mortality was probably reduced by decreasing the trap effort per burrow system, increased efficiency (as a result of experience) in checking traps, and by keeping traps away from fire ant nests. A total of 7 young Neofiber (3 juveniles and 1 subadult in 24 CS, 1 juvenile in 8 GS, 1 subadult in 5 BN, and 1 subadult and 1 juvenile

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102 Table 18. Monthly captures of juvenile Neof i ber trapped from 41 selected plus 25 additional burrow systems in 4 study fields, Fields 14 CN and 6 BN were trapped in 1979; fields 8 GS and 24 CS were trapped in 1980. 14 CN 5 BN 8 GS 24 CS Total May

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103 in 14 CN) died in traps. One subadult was killed by a trap door, and 1 juvenile was accidentally left in a trap. The others, as mentioned earlier, may have been in poor condition when they entered traps. None of them was attacked by ants. The greater mortality of young in traps in 1980 (5/7) is probably related to the greater number of young captured in that year. Predation Five adult Neofiber (4 males, 1 female) appeared to have been killed by predators. Three of the 5 were wearing radio collars, and although the collars did not appear to have harmed them, it may have made them more vulnerable to predation (e.g., by slowing them down). All 5 muskrats were found shortly after death (no more than 24 h later). The skulls of 3 males (Nos. 74, 153, and 150) were broken, so that only the portion from the eyes forward still remained. Other body parts were also missing; for example, only the stomach, intestines, and one lobe of the liver remained with the severed head of No. 75. No fur or other parts of the skeleton were found. Male No. 85 was found dead shortly after harvest of 6 BN. His skull was exposed on one side, and part of the zygomatic arch was missing. His abdominal cavity had been torn open, but no organs had been removed. Female No. 23 was the most puzzling mortality. She was found dead in December 1980 on the path leading from N to K in 24 CS (Appendix IVd). Externally she appeared to be unharmed, except for some slight indentations on her left side that did not appear to penetrate the skin. Necropsy revealed damage to organs on her left side: the left kidney was flattened and the adrenal gland was separated from the kidney.

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104 There were punctures in the body wall and stomach, from which some partially digested material had leaked into the body cavity. All that remained of 2 Neof i ber found in October 1980 in 8 GS was 2 stomachs with intestines attached, 1 spleen, and 1 kidney. The muskrats had been killed very recently, as there was no decomposition, the organs were still moist, and no ants were present. When I returned to the site 2 h later at 1145, the ants had arrived in great numbers. An owl pellet containing the fur and most of the skull of a young (probably juvenile) Neof i ber was found on the western end of 24 CS. An owl pellet was also found during the snaptrapping of 24 AS in April 1980. It contained the intact skull of a young Neof i ber , its tibia and fibula, scapula, and fur. Harvested -rel ated Fifteen Neof i ber were radio-collared when the study fields were burned and cut: 1 in 14 CN, 5 in 6 BN, and 9 in 8 GS. All of the muskrats with radios in 14 CN and 6 BN were located and determined to be alive following burning, cutting and loading of cane. Only 3 of the 9 radioed muskrats in 8 GS were determined to be alive following harvest; 3 could not be located, 2 were dead, and 1 collar was found detached, the strap broken. The burn in 8 GS in 1980 was much hotter than in 14 CN and 6 BN in 1979, as evidenced by the destruction of all stakes marking burrow locations in 1980 and the survival of most of them in 1979. Thus, Neof i ber harvest-related mortality may have been higher in 8 GS. Female No. 142 from 8 GS H was found dead in 8 FS, under a pile of cut cane that had not yet been loaded. Her fur, tail, and feet were burned, and she did not appear to be the victim of a predator or

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105 scavenger. While it is possible that she moved to 8 FS before harvest, or that a predator or scavenger carried her there after harvest, it is also possible that she was displaced during the burning of 8 GS, and died from injuries sustained during that fire, or the subsequent one in 8 FS. The 3 radio-collared muskrats that were still alive in 8 GS following harvest could not be located following flooding of the field approximately 2 weeks after their last radio location. There was no sign of Neofiber activity (houses or feeding platforms) in the field, which was flooded to a depth of approximately 0.7 m, and provided only the tips of sprouting cane to serve as emergent vegetation. Other causes Male No. 43 appeared to have been suffocated when 6 BN was disced following harvest. He was buried under 0.6 m of dirt and would not have been found if he had not been wearing a transmitter. He was alive the day before the field was disced, and the collar did not appear to have harmed him. An unmarked subadult male with no external injuries was found on the path from E to M in 8 GS in October. Necropsy revealed hemorrhaging of the lungs, and several lesions on the lung surface. The cause of death was diagnosed by histopathology as viral-induced bronchopneumonia. A juvenile female was found dead at 24 OS A in August 1980, when this burrow system was under water. She had no external injuries. She presumably was forced out of burrows by high water and died from exposure. The intact skeleton and eartag of juvenile female No. 179 were found at 8 GS E, where she had been captured the month before. Adult

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106 male No. 121 from 8 GS C was found dead on the path from K to B. He had started to decompose, but no body parts appeared to be missing. Cause(s) of death could not be determined for Nos. 179 and 121, but predation was thought not to be the cause because the skeletons were still completely intact. Four Neofiber skulls were found between July and December 1980 in burrow systems trapped in 24 CS, and 2 skulls were found in 8 GS systems between August and October 1980. Ectoparasites Two types of mites were collected from Neofiber : blood sucking mites (Macronyssidae) , and hair mites (Listrophoridae). Most of the mites collected were macronyssids. Five species of Listrophorus have been found on Ondatra in Indiana (Bauer and Whitaker 1981) and are highly specific for this rodent. They also found mites from the families Glycyphagidae and Laelapidae were common ectoparasites of Ondatra . Porter (1953) collected mites of the genus Laelaps from Neofiber in Dade and Hendry Counties. Birkenholz (1963) reported mites of the genera Laelaps and Haemolaelaps , and an undescribed species of the family Listrophoridae collected from Neofiber on Payne's Prairie. Probably all of the Neofiber handled in this study had mites. Mites were evident on all dead muskrats, particularly on the head. No fleas, however, were noticed on live or dead muskrats. In contrast, no mites were noticed on or collected from cotton rats, but fleas ( Rhopalopsyllus guyni ) were extremely common on both live cotton and roof rats occupying Neof i ber burrow systems.

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107 Use of Houses Although no quantitative data were recorded on Neofiber houses in sugarcane fields, their presence was frequently noted in burrow systems. A house was generally a loosely woven sphere of dried cane leaves, approximately 20 cm in diameter, and covered a burrow entrance or shallow tunnel. One house was constructed with freshly clipped sedges ( Cyperus sp.). The houses observed in sugarcane appeared to be smaller and less well constructed than those I have seen and those described by Birkenholz (1963) on Payne's Prairie (Fig. 28). One or 2 houses per burrow system were not uncommon; however, in many systems, no houses were found. In late January 1980, heavy rains flooded many of the Mill Lot fields and forced us to discontinue snaptrapping in Field 30 FN. In the process of picking up the floating traps, I noticed that several houses had been recently fortified with fresh cane sprout leaves. A newborn Neofiber was found in one house in this field. This was the only documented use of a house I obtained, although I examined dozens of houses. When Field 24 CS was flooded in August 1980, the same phenomenon of house fortification was observed. It seems likely that house building and burrowing are alternative strategies for wet and dry conditions, both of which Neofiber encounters, whether on prairies or in sugarcane fields.

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Fig. 28. Neofiber house on Payne's Prairie (above) and in a sugarcane field (below). 108

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DISCUSSION Population Dynamics Density Estimation Regression analysis The sum of the y-dimensions (distances across rows), number of burrow systems trapped, density (high or low), number of burrows plugged, and number of burrows opened were the best predictors of number of Neofiber captured per field, accounting for up to 94 percent of the variation in observed captures. A similar level of correlation was reported between pocket gopher numbers and the amount of new sign (mounds of dirt and earth plugs) made 2 days after existing sign was obliterated (Reid, Hansen and Ward 1966). Their regression model, however, was curvilinear. Liro (1974) found less correlation between the number of renewed burrows after 48 h and the estimated number of voles ( Microtus arvalis ) , with a maximum r value of 0.62. Both the pocket gopher and vole researchers cited above found that seasonal differences in the rate of new sign formation affected correlation figures. In this study, the correlation between the number of Neofiber captured per month between May and harvest and the number of active burrows per month was not significant. Thus, the postharvest period is not only the most practical time to estimate Neofiber density, it is also the best time to obtain a reasonably accurate estimate. 109

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no In practice, the total number of burrow systems observed in a field could be substituted for the number of burrow systems trapped in the regression equation. This seems to be a reasonable extrapolation because the sample size of selected burrow systems per field was usually at least 20 percent of those present in high density fields, and all of those present in low density fields. The 2-and 4-variable regression equations derived from 2 years of postharvest burrow system samples from the Okeelanta Mill Lot may have little applicability to other areas in the sugarcane growing region. These equations must be validated, both in the Okeelanta Mill Lot and other areas, before their usefulness can be assessed. In particular, they may not be useful in estimating Neofiber density in older fields. Sugarcane vs marsh habitat The greatest Neofiber density observed in this study was 67 burrow systems in a 15-ha field. Assuming an average of 2 Neofiber per burrow system in high density fields, this would equal 9 Neof i ber per hectare. Steffen's (1978) maximum field density was 3.4 burrow systems per hectare in the same study area (or, using the above assumption, approximately 7 Neof i ber per hectare). Birkenholz (1963) estimated that Neofiber density ranged from 50 to 296 individuals per hectare in suitable habitat on Payne's Prairie. He based his estimates on house counts and individuals trapped in small areas of Panicum-Pontederia habitat, and extrapolated these results to larger areas. If one assumes that all of each sugarcane field represents suitable Neof i ber habitat, then Neofiber density in sugarcane was much

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Ill lower than Birkenholz's projections for suitable habitat on Payne's Prairie. However, it is possible that resources other than sugarcane were important to Neof i ber distribution in my study fields, and such resources may have been more localized and limited than patches of suitable habitat on Payne's Prairie. The greatest Neof i ber density in an individual burrow system (excluding systems yielding only 1 Neof i ber capture) was 4 in a 0.007 ha burrow system, or 570 per hectare. It is also possible that Birkenholz's apparent assumption that Neof i ber density over all Panicum-Pontederia habitat on Payne's Prairie matched that of his sampled areas was incorrect. Portions of seemingly suitable habitat may not have been used by Neof i ber . The highest Neof i ber density that Tilmant (1975) observed within a plant community of over 1 ha was 43 houses per hectare in 1.3 ha of maidencane. Using Birkenholz's estimate of 1 Neof i ber for every 2 houses, this would have been a density of 22 Neof i ber per hectare. Because of the different approaches to density estimation used in this study versus Birkenholz's and Tilmant' s studies, it is difficult or impossible to objectively compare Neof i ber densities in sugarcane fields and marshes. Further research on this subject would be of interest in determining whether sugarcane is at best a marginal habitat for Neof i ber , or if it represents highly suitable habitat, at least in some areas of the sugarcane growing region. Productivity, Density, and Dispersal A similar percentage of adult females was pregnant from December through April in recently harvested sugarcane fields (30 percent) and on Payne's Prairie (32 percent; based upon data taken from Birkenholz

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112 1963). A higher percentage of adult females was pregnant (57 percent; from Birkenholz 1963) over the May through November period on Payne's Prairie. I do not have pregnancy data for the latter period in sugarcane fields. However, the number of juveniles captured per adult female was lower over the May through November period (0.54) than over the harvest season months (1.17). The opportunity of missing young born in burrow systems in postharvest fields was greater because these burrow systems were trapped only once, whereas the burrow systems studied from May through November were livetrapped monthly. Thus it appears that either reproductive output (number of embryos produced per adult female) or success (number of juveniles surviving until they could be captured), or both, were lower in the May to November period. There was considerable variation in reproductive output and success between burrow systems and between fields in both the postharvest and livetrapped study fields. This evidence tends to support Birkenholz' s conclusion that Neofiber does not have well-marked seasonal breeding cycles, and that suitable local conditions are probably the most important factor in mating and reproductive success. Average number of embryos per pregnant female in this study (1.8) was somewhat lower than in a 1974 to 1976 sample of Neofiber from sugarcane fields (2.1)(Holler, Lefebvre and Decker, unpubl . data), and than in Birkenholz's (1963) sample (2.3). These differences may not be significant. Productivity (juveniles + embryos per adult female) was greater in third ratoon high density fields than third ratoon low density fields, but did not differ much between low and high density second ratoon fields. It is possible that second ratoon and low density third

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113 ratoon fields differed from third ratoon high density fields in some aspect important to Neofiber reproduction. It is also possible that Neofiber's reproductive rate is density-dependent, and that higher rates of reproduction were not usually achieved until the third ratoon of certain fields, in which muskrat numbers had built up to a sufficient level to facilitate reproduction. This facilitation might occur through more frequent encounters between adult males and females, and because the mean age of females, and hence mean litter size, might be greater in older high density fields. Females carrying 2 embryos were significantly larger (and possibly older) than females carrying 1 embryo . Second ratoon fields, both high and low density, showed a decrease in productivity between 1979 and 1980 that third ratoon fields did not show. This may have been related to an overall decline in the Okeelanta Mill Lot Neofiber population as a result of poor colonization of newly planted fields. Okeelanta managers began the 3-year crop rotation in 1976, and 1979 was the first year in which there were no fields older than third ratoon following harvest. Thus the effect of the 3-year crop rotation may have been greater in 1980 than in 1979. Further evidence of a decline in the Okeelanta Mill Lot Neofiber population was obtained during the 1981 harvest season in an unrelated study. All of the second ratoon fields were searched for Neofiber burrow systems, in the same manner as that described for this study. Only a few fields, in the northwestern part of the mill lot, marginally met the high density classification criteria. The major effect of a short-cycle crop rotation on Neofiber density may be in limiting the number of dispersers. Neofiber are

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114 probably entirely eliminated from fields when they are disced, except for individuals that escape to or are already living on the ditch banks. Okeelanta managers tend to replant blocks of fields (e.g., 8 or 16 fields) at the same time. When Neofiber are removed from large blocks of sugarcane fields, effective dispersal must be greatly diluted. Only those fields surrounded by potential sources of Neofiber immigration (i.e., older ratoon fields) may attain relatively high Neofiber densities before they are in turn disced and replanted. Gaines and McClenaghan (1980) determined that the number of dispersers is positively correlated with population density in many cricetid rodents. Stickel (1979) concluded that migration was a primary mechanism of mouse (Mus_ musculus ) repopulation of recently harvested cropland. The greater average number of Neof i ber captured per burrow system in third ratoon fields in 1980 than in 1979 does not appear to be consistent with a hypothetical decline in the population. However, there was evidence that Neof i ber had been present in the 1979 third ratoon fields before I trapped them, perhaps in numbers even greater than those encountered in subsequent ratoon x years. The mean number of burrows and mean x-dimensions (length along rows) in burrow systems of 1979 third ratoon fields were larger than in burrow systems of the other ratoon x year fields. It is possible that Neofiber numbers in 1979 high density third ratoon fields had peaked and crashed before I trapped them. Large burrow systems that appeared to extend 100 m or more along one or several adjacent rows of cane were not seen in the 3 subsequently sampled ratoon x years. However, they have been observed in the Okeelanta Mill Lot in years previous to this study (J. R. Orsenigo, pers. comm.). Perhaps changes in cultural practices, such

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115 as mechanical harvesting which was initiated in some Okeelanta Mill Lot fields in 1978, have affected Neo fiber survival or burrowing activity in such a way as to make the formation of extensive systems difficult or impossible. Thus what appears to have been an increase in Neofiber numbers in third ratoon between 1979 and 1980 may actually have been a decline. Another consideration is that trends in Neofiber numbers in the second ratoon are more important to the grower if third ratoon fields are disced for replanting after harvest, as they are in the Okeelanta Mill Lot. Second ratoon fields will be allowed to grow for another year, whereas Neofiber in third ratoon fields will be killed or displaced by discing. Population Trend in Livetrapped Study Fields Neofiber numbers in the 4 livetrapped fields declined or, in 1 field (24 CS), remained stable from May through harvest. The decline in 3 fields probably resulted from mortality or emigration of adults, low immigration rate of adults, and low recruitment rate of juveniles. The fact that over half of all juveniles trapped in the originally selected 41 burrow systems were not recaptured at all (15/27), let alone as adults, suggests that overall survival of juveniles was not good. Although being captured may have contributed to juvenile mortality, some juveniles appeared to have been in poor condition before entering traps. The relative stability of Neofiber numbers in 24 CS apparently resulted from immigration of adults and recruitment of juveniles in the fall, following flooding of this field. The field west of 24 CS (25 CS) was disced and flooded for replanting in August 1980, and 24 CS was

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116 incidentally flooded. It is possible that displaced Neofiber from 26 CS migrated into 24 CS. Flooding may have promoted growth of vegetative cover and food favorable to Neofiber, or perhaps wet conditions are more suitable for Neofiber reproduction and survival. Donohoe (1966) found that enclosures that maintained favorable water depths for Ondatra in Lake Erie marshes increased muskrat population densities through a reduction of mortality, but had little influence on reproductive physiology. An alternative explanation is that the relative stability of Neof i ber numbers and the flooding in 24 CS were entirely coincidental and unrelated. Social Organization The occupants of a Neofiber burrow system clearly do not represent a colony. The occupants of several adjacent burrow systems may form a loose colony, with emigration and immigration between other burrow systems within a field and, less frequently, between neighboring fields. Social interaction was not observed, but perhaps reproduction is facilitated as density increases to some optimum. Allee et al . (1949: 396) described this phenomenon as "unconscious cooperation." Neofiber are probably not gregarious beyond the formation of family or extended family groups. The following is a hypothetical model of Neof i ber social organization. Adult females may defend burrow systems, excluding other adult Neofiber except adult males when the females are sexually receptive. Adult males may wander among adjacent systems searching for receptive females, staying for a while with females in estrus. Adult males may construct systems nearby adult females' systems in order to increase

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117 their access to receptive females. Offspring may leave the mother's system as subadults, or adult females may move short distances to start new burrows before having another litter; how far they move may depend upon local conditions such as food supply and presence or absence of potential mates. If a specific burrow system site has abundant food and several adjacent systems occupied by potential mates, an adult female might be more likely to stay in the same system or to move short distances, essentially adding on to the existing system. Steffen (1978) noted that in burrow systems active over a year-long period, burrowing activity appeared to shift away from, but was contiguous to, older areas of the burrow system. If, in contrast, food is not abundant, and an adult female is not contacted by a sufficient quantity or quality of males, she may move to a new site before having another litter. In doing so, she would leave more food for her previous litter. Disposal of the young while the mother remains in a system is an alternative strategy. The small number of systems found to have extended families (i.e., more than an adult female with 1 set of young) suggests that dispersal of adults or young occurs fairly soon after recruits appear in a burrow system. The dispersers may start their own systems or occupy vacated burrow systems. This proposed model is fairly consistent with those described for other North American microtines (Getz 1978; Jannett 1978; Madison 1980a and b). Callahan (1981) offered an explanation for the relative sedentariness of chipmunk ( Eutamias ) females compared to the wandering behavior of breeding males: by staying put, females may force males to assume the risks of dispersal and to disappear at a time when their presence might result in competition for food resources. Thus parental

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118 costs are somewhat equalized. Jannett (1978) suggested that by making a new nest in a new location, a female Microtus avoids exposing neonates to accumulated nest parasites, dampness, or predators that might have been attracted to the old nest. flcGuire and Getz (1981) determined in laboratory tests that sibling prairie voles ( Microtus ochrogaster ) that had been separated for 8 days would mate with each other, whereas siblings that had not been separated mated far less frequently than strangers or separated siblings. This suggests that male wandering could have seemingly conflicting results, both permitting incest if males return to their daughters', sisters', or mothers' burrow systems, and promoting mating with unrelated or less related individuals. The bank or water vole ( Arvicola terrestris ) is perhaps an ecological equivalent of Neo fiber in the Old World. This cricetid, of approximately the same size and appearance as Neofiber, has both aquatic and fossorial forms, and lives in burrow systems (Airoldi 1976). Airoldi found that most of the burrow systems of the fossorial form in Switzerland were shared by an adult male and female in all seasons, with or without young. Panteleyev (1968, jjn Airoldi, 1976) described the aquatic form of Arvicola as being solitary. Myllymaki (1977) described the dispersal of reproductive females between weaning of one litter and birth of the next as typical of Microtus agrestis in Finland. Although he found the voles occupied a new range near the former one, he suggested that the reproductive females' readiness to disperse negates the theory of female territoriality. He concluded that scramble competition, in which food resources are equally accessible to popualtion members, affects fecundity and nestling survival, rather than contest competition, in which only a

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119 fraction of the population has access to limited resources. MackinRogalska (1976) studied field vole ( Microtus arvalis ) burrow systems (an average of 10 m apart), and found that individuals moved among neighboring burrow systems. Males visited a greater number of systems than females, and sexually inactive females visited more systems than did active ones. Mackin-Rogalska determined that individuals living in one burrow system constituted a family or occasionally an extended family. Earhart (1969) identified 3 different types of Ondatra burrow systems in California farm ponds: breeding burrows, occupied by large, possibly dominant individuals; temporary winter burrows in less suitable sites, occupied by small individuals; and feeding burrows constructed near food supplies used only for feeding. Although I did not notice such differentiation of Neofiber burrow system use, it is possible that different burrows within systems served different functions. The superficially homogeneous appearance of sugarcane fields does not lend itself to identification of different burrow sites. It is also possible, as Pfeifer (1982) observed in her study of ground squirrels, Spermophilus elegans , that dominant Neofiber occupied preferred burrow system sites, and produced more viable offspring which in turn were reproductively successful. Earhart (1969) found that Ondatra competed for preferred burrow system sites, and that an adult male or female pair occupied adjoining burrow systems. The hypothesis that some burrow system sites were preferred would help to explain why some burrow systems appeared to be occupied by the same individual (s) for the entire trapping period, while others appeared to be occupied on a temporary basis by a succession of individuals.

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120 The unexpected finding that burrow system dimensions across rows (y-sum) was more highly correlated with Neofiber captures than burrow system dimensions along rows (x-sum) may have relevance to Neofiber 's social organization in sugarcane fields. Individual muskrats may tend to burrow along rows, and young may tend to disperse short distances across rows from their mother's home range to start new burrows (or vice versa). Clusters of burrows that cross many rov/s may represent the workings of an extended family. Burrowing Activity Neofiber burrowing activity is probably related to obtaining food as well as shelter. Gnawed sugarcane sprouts and stalks were frequently found at the entrances of burrows; often the stalks growing near a burrow entrance were cut down and gnawed. Samol (1971) believed that Neofiber consume sugarcane roots and extend their burrow systems to obtain roots. High levels of burrowing activity of a pocket gopher ( Thomomys bottae ) coincided with the increased use of preferred foods (Bandoli 1981). Airoldi (1976) suggested that some tunnels of the water vole ( Arvicola terrestris ) are abandoned after plants near them are consumed. I noted that portions of most of the burrow systems appeared to have been abandoned by the end of the study periods. The decrease in burrowing activity in October in 3 study fields corresponds to smaller numbers of Neofiber captured, and may simply have reflected declining field populations. However, in the fourth study field (24 CS), burrowing activity decreased from October through January even though Neofiber captures did not decrease. Steffen (1978) also reported lower numbers of new Neofiber burrows appearing in October, November, and December than in summer months in a Florida

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121 sugarcane field. Decreased burrowing activity in the fall and winter does not appear to be linked to a specific cultural practice, such as a change in ground water level; it is possible that sugarcane roots begin to make burrowing more difficult in the fall. Soil moisture may decrease in the fall and winter (the dry season), making burrowing more difficult. It is also possible that above ground food quality or quantity improves at this time. Burrow systems may simply reach a sufficient size by late fall to meet their occupants' requirements, or possibly Neofiber spend more time feeding above ground in the denser cover provided by maturing sugarcane.

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CONCLUSIONS Information on Neof i ber population estimation, patterns of burrow system occupancy, reproduction, survival, and interburrow system movements has been obtained in this study, making possible an overall conclusion on the present status of the round-tailed muskrat in one Florida sugarcane grower's fields. A burrow system is not an isolated social unit. A group of closely spaced burrow systems (<30 m apart) may represent a loose colony. Telemetry and recapture data have shown that muskrats, particularly adult males, move among neighboring burrow systems. More often, however, Neof i ber were recaptured or radio-located in the same burrow systems in which they were originally captured. The burrow system may thus represent the home range of its occupant(s), and movements among systems may be important in finding mates and in dispersal. At a given time, average burrow system occupancy is less than 2 individuals. Single adult males or females, male/female pairs, a female with 1 or 2 young, or 1 or 2 subadults were the most common occupants of a system. Extended families, with adult male/female pairs and more than one generation of young, were encountered occasionally. These family groups may have been trapped prior to dispersal , or they may represent individuals that were more tolerant of each other, perhaps because the local food supply was better. Recapture data indicate that young in some burrow systems continue to share the same burrow system with their parent(s), while others leave to form their own system or live in a 122

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123 neighboring system. In some cases, adult females left their burrow systems to their young and formed new ones, usually nearby. The relative constancy of the burrow system as a social subunit is reflected in its utility as a predictor of population size. Both the number of systems trapped per field and the sum of their y-dimensions (distances across rows) were highly correlated with the number of Neo fiber captured in recently harvested fields. Older (third ratoon) postharvest fields with low burrow system densities ( < 10 per 15-ha field) tended to have lower productivity (number embryos + number juveniles per adult female) than third ratoon fields with high burrow system densities (-15 per field). Second ratoon low and high density fields did not differ much in productivity. This suggests that Neof i ber ' s reproducti ve rate may be density-dependent, and that higher rates of reproduction were not achieved until fields were 3 years old. Because the Okeelanta Division of Gulf and Western Food Products, rnG.,recently initiated a 3-yr crop rotation program, Neof i ber may be removed from fields before ever attaining their maximum reproductive rate. In addition, Okeelanta tends to plant large blocks of fields at the same time, so that older fields are relatively isolated from younger fields, hence dispersal is limited. Reproductive rate or survival of young (or both) appear to have been very low between May and harvest, during the period of crop maturation. Total Neof i ber numbers captured per month during this period declined in 3 second ratoon study fields and remained stable in 1 second ratoon field. These results suggest that second ratoon

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124 sugarcane fields may provide less than optimal Neofiber habitat for this portion of the crop cycle. The Okeelanta Mill Lot's Neofiber population appears to have declined in recent years, possibly as a result of the shorter crop rotation, replanting by blocks of fields, and the introduction of mechanical harvesting. The maximum field density of Neofiber observed in the study area, approximately 9 individuals per hectare, appears to be a much lower density than that achieved by Neofiber in maidencane-pickerelweed marshes. However, the manner in which density was determined in the 2 habitats was different, and direct comparisons cannot be made. Many of the foregoing conclusions point to the overall conclusion that, at present, control measures to reduce the Okeelanta Mill Lot Neof i ber population are not warranted. The fact that burrow system numbers correlate well with Neof i ber numbers in postharvest second and third ratoon fields indicates that sugarcane fields can be monitored readily to determine which have relatively large numbers of muskrats, and to follow the year to year population trend.

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MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS Unless the declining trend in the Okeelanta Mill Lot Neofiber population is part of a multi-year cycle, it appears that the 3-year crop rotation program may limit Neofiber density below a level that would warrant control. If other Florida sugarcane growers initiate this crop rotation schedule, Neofiber may decline in other areas of the sugarcane region and no longer be considered a problem. The use of mechanical harvesters may also have a negative impact on Neof i ber populations. Growers owning smaller acreages ( 400 ha) generally tend to leave fields in production longer, and could suffer significant crop loss if Neofiber reached high densities in just a few fields. They should check their fields for Neofiber burrow systems 1 to 2 months after harvest every year. The distribution of Neofiber burrow systems in high density fields suggests that the middle ditch may be an important avenue of entry into fields, and that muskrats can spread rapidly (i.e., within 2 crop cycles) into field centers, also. The north/south canals in the study area were probably not suitable habitat for Neofiber . These canals were deeper and wider than middle ditches, with rocky, vertical banks. The relatively low incidence of burrow systems in Stratum I (center third of the east and west field ends) also indicates that these canals probably did not support a source of Neofiber immigrants. 125

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126 The tendency for field center and middle ditch strata of high density fields to have a higher density of burrow systems than the outer edge strata was consistent across the ratoon x year combinations. Therefore a grower might want to weight a Neof i ber survey in favor of these strata (II and IV). Surveying fields by driving along the east and west ends looking for systems is probably insufficient because Stratum I (field ends) was the least related to overall field density. With binoculars one can see a portion of the field center, although trails left by harvesting equipment can be mistaken for Neof i ber burrows. Fields could be surveyed 1 to 2 months after harvest in the same manner as described in this study, by searching 6 rows to the left and right of the path travelled through a field. If 2 passes were made through a 15-ha half-field with 120 rows of sugarcane, one pass bisecting Stratum II (20 rows in from middle ditch) and one bisecting Strata I and IV (60 rows in from middle ditch), approximately 43 percent of these 3 strata, representing 2/3 of the half-field, would have been searched. Thus if 4 or more active burrow systems were counted, more of the field should be searched to determine if the minimum high density criterion of 15 burrow systems is met. Unless an area is found in which several fields have Neof i ber burrow system densities of 1 or more per ha, or a field is found with 3 or more systems per ha, control measures are probably unnecessary. Neof i ber females captured from low density fields clearly did not have higher productivity than those in high density fields, thus Neof i ber in sugarcane do not appear to be capable of dramatic reproductive compensation at low densities. If densities are very high in a number

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LITERATURE CITED AIROLDI, J. -P. 1976. The burrow system of the fossorial form of the water vole, Arvicola terrestrls scherman Shaw (Mammalia, Rodentia). Z. Saeugetierkd 41(1): 23-42. ALLEE, W. C, A. E. EMERSON, 0. PART, T. PARK, AND K. P. SCHMIDT. 1949. Principles of animal ecology. W. B. Saunders and Co., Philadelphia, Pa. 837 pp. BANDOLI, J. H. 1981. Factors influencing seasonal burrowing activity in the pocket gopher, Thomomys bottae . J. Mammal. 62(2): 293-303. BARNES, A. C. 1974. The sugar cane. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, N.Y. 572 pp. BAUER, C. A., AND J. 0. WHITAKER, JR. 1981. Ectoparasites of muskrats from Indiana with special emphasis on spatial distribution of coexisting mites of the genus Listrophorus . Amer. Midi. Nat. 105(1): 112-122. BIRKENHOLZ, D. E. 1963. A study of the life history and ecology of the round-tailed muskrat ( Neofiber alleni True) in North-Central Florida. Ecol. Monogr.33: 255-280. CALLAHAN, J. R. 1981. Vocal solicitation and parental investment in female Eutamias . Am. Nat. 118: 872-875. COREIL, P. D., AND H. R. PERRY. 1977. A collar for attaching radio transmitter to nutria. Proc. Annu. Conf. S.E. Assoc. Fish and Wild!. Agencies 31: 254-258. DONOHOE, R. W, 1966. Muskrat reproduction in areas of controlled and uncontrolled water-level units. J. Wild!. Manage. 30(2): 320-326. EARHART, C. M. 1969. The influence of soil texture on the structure, durability, and occupancy of muskrat burrows in farm ponds. Calif. Fish and Game 55(3): 179-196. FITCH, H. S. 1978. A field study of the prairie kingsnake ( Lampropeltis call igaster ). Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci. 81(4): 353363. GAINES, M. S., AND L. R. McCLENAGHAN, JR. 1980. Dispersal in small mammals. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 11: 163-196. GETZ, L. L. 1978. Speculation on social structure and population cycles of microtine rodents. Biologist 60(4): 134-147. 128

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127 of fields, discing and replanting may be the most effective solution, although economic considerations may make this impractical. Replanting blocks (i.e., a half-section or more) of fields at a time may limit reinvasion by muskrats. Snaptrapping is laborious. However, under the conditions encountered in this study, I believe most of the Neofiber inhabiting burrow systems can be removed in 4 nights of trapping. Burrow plugging before trapping reduces trap effort but also reduces trap success. The effects of trash removal and weed control (through cultivation and herbicides) on Neofiber survival in postharvest fields should be investigated. The development of a toxic bait for specific use on Neof i ber is not warranted at this time, on the basis of current knowledge of round-tailed muskrat distribution in the sugarcane region and the population trend in at least one area of this region.

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129 HARPER, F. 1927. The mammals of the Okefinokee Swamp. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 38(7): 191-396. HELWIG, J. T., AND K. A. COUNCIL (Eds.). 1979. SAS users' guide. SAS Institute, Raleigh, North Carolina. 494 pp. HOWELL, A. H. 1920. Description of a new race of the Florida water rat ( Neofiber alleni ). J. Mammal. 1: 79-80. JANNETT, F. J., JR. 1978. The density-dependent formation of extended maternal families of the montane vole, Microtus montanus nanus . Behav. Ecol . Sociobiol. 3: 245-263. KERLINGER, F. N., AND E. J. PEDHAZUR. 1973. Multiple regression in behavioral research. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, N.Y. 534 pp. LAYNE, J. N. (Ed.). 1978. Rare and endangered biota of Florida Vol. 1: Mammals. Peter C. H. Pritchard, Series Ed. Univ. Presses of Fla. 52 pp. LEFEBVRE, L. W. , C. R. INGRAM, AND M. C. YANG. 1978. Assessment of rat damage to Florida sugarcane in 1975. Proc. Amer. Soc. Sugar Cane Techno!. 7: 75-80. LIRO, L. 1974. Renewal of burrows by the common vole as the indicator of its numbers. Acta Theriol. 19(7): 259-272. MACKIN-ROGALSKA, R. 1976. Attachment of the field-vole to its colony. Bull. Acad. Pol. Sci . Ser. Sci. Biol. 23(12): 813-821. MADISON, D. M. 1980a. Space use and social structure in meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus . Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 7: 65-71. . 1980b. An integrated view of the social biology of Microtus pennsylvanicus . Biologist 62: 20-33. McGUIRE, M. R., AND L. L. GETZ. 1981. Incest taboo between sibling Microtus ochrogaster . J. Mammal. 62(1): 213-215. MYLLYMAKI, A. 1977. Intraspecific competition and home range dynamics in the field vole Microtus agrestis . Oikos 29: 553-569. NEILSON, W. A., (Ed.). 1959. Webster's new international dictionary. G.& C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass. 3194 pp. NEWSOM, J. D., H. R. PERRY, JR., AND P. E. SCHILLING. 1976. Fire antmuskrat relationships in Louisiana coastal marshes. S.E. Assoc. Game and Fish Comm. 13: 414-418. PANTELEYEV, P. A. 1968. Population ecology of water vole and measures of control. Akademia Nauk SSSR, Moskva. (Russ.)

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130 PEIFER, R. W. 1979. Great blue herons foraging for small mammals. Wilson Bull. 91(4): 630-631. PFEIFER, S. R. 1982. Variability in reproductive output and success of Spermophilus elegans ground squirrels. J. Mammal. 63(2): 284289. 'porter, R. p. 1953. A contribution to the life history of the water rat, Neofiber alleni . MS Thesis. Univ. Miami, Coral Gables, Fla. 84 pp. REID, V. H., R. M. HANSEN, AND A. L. WARD. 1966. Counting mounds and earth plugs to census mountain pocket gophers. J. Wildl. Manage. 30(2): 327-334. RICHMOND, M., AND R. STEHN. 1976. Olfaction and reproductive behavior in microtine rodents. Pp. 197-217 2n_ Mammalian olfaction, reproductive processes, and behavior (R. L. Doty, ed.). Academic Press, New York, N.Y. 344 pp. r SAMOL, H. H. 1971. Rat control in Florida sugar cane fields. Proc. Am. Soc. Sugar Cane Techno!. 1: 153-156. . 1972. Rat damage and control in the Florida sugarcane industry. Proc. Int. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol . 14: 503-506. SOKAL, R. R., AND F. J. ROHLF. 1969. Biometry. W. H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, Calif. 776 pp. STEEL, R. G. D., AND J. H. TORRIE. 1960. Principles and procedures of statistics. McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc., New York, N.Y. 481 pp. 'STEFFEN, D. E. 1978. The occurrence of and damage by the Florida water rat in Florida sugar cane production areas. MS Thesis, Va. Polytech. Inst. State Univ., Blacksburg, Va. 105 pp. i_ , N. R. HOLLER, L. W. LEFEBVRE, AND P. F. SCANLON. 1981. Factors affecting the occurrence and distribution of Florida water rats in sugarcane fields. Proc. Am. Soc. Sugar Cane Technol. 9: 27-32, STICKEL, L. F. 1979. Population ecology of house mice in unstable habitats. J. Anim. Ecol . 48: 871-887. 'TILMANT, J. T. 1975. Habitat utilization by round-tailed muskrats ( Neofiber alleni ) in Everglades National Park. MS Thesis. Humboldt State Univ., Arcadia, Calif. 91 pp. VALENTINE, J. M. , J. R. WALTHER, K. M. McCARTNEY, AND L. M. IVEY. 1972. Alligator diets on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. J. Wildl. Manage. 36(3): 809-815.

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131 WALLACE, R. A. 1973. The ecology and evolution of animal behavior. Goodyear Publishing Co., Inc., Pacific Palisades, Calif. 348 pp. WALSH, L. E., N. R. HOLLER, D. G. DECKER, AND C. R. INGRAM. 1976. Studies of rodent damage and rodent population dynamics in Florida sugarcane. Proc. Am. Soc. Sugar Cane Techno!. 5: 227-230.

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APPENDIX I COMMONLY OCCURKIJ^iG PLANTS IN THE MILL LOT OF THE OKEELANTA DIVISION OF GULF AND WESTERN FOOD PRODUCTS, INC. Location In sugarcane fields On field edges On canal banks In ditches and small canals Common Name broadleaf panicum fall panicum nutsedge napiergrass cressleaf groundsel sicklepod mi 1 kwort creeping cucumber giant bristlegrass brown top millet pokeweed dog fennel crowfoot grass sawgrass lantana . maidencane paragrass cattail pickerel weed Scientific Name Panicum adspersum Panicum dichotomiflorum Cyperus spp. Pennisetum purpureum Senecio qlabellus Cassia obtusi folia Polyqala spp. Melothria pendula Setaria magna Brachiaria ramosa Phytolacca americana Eupa tori urn caoillifolium Dactyl octenium aegyptium Cladium iamaicensis Lantana camara Panicum hemitomon Panicum purpurascens Typha sp. Pontedaria lanceolata 132

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O) OJ to C 1 — O) I— -o <— C T3 (O 5-C OJ (/) M_ -1— I/) 1— 3 (T3 01 O -p Q 03 OJ CO £ +-> -O >, O I— 1/1 O) O) c/) r— -IQ. C -O 0) M•i— to I 05 00 (O -a o 00 E O o o o 00 >o u >, 03 (TJ O) .— -E 3 S_ O) -O 0) • > C •!3 01 -I-r> ^ +J •!oo o — I QJ E C 3 I— Q. O) 1O 00 -l-> S_ OJ 00 C CD S>, O 00 "O " T3 3 O C O O S. •.O) SS_ <4E 4-3 0) 3 J3 -O 3 r Qi en s_ ID C •" 00 (t> CO -1l/l r — Q. 1/1 £ O (O 0) j3 -O +-) E E 00 >, >, CO on CO T— ( i. 3 OJ c O -E 03 S_ O (-> >> 3 CO XJ to • CO 3 Lf) T3 O) O •— < O) I— Lai ^ . 3 3 Q JD -C +J 00 CO ra 00 (U O 00 LO trt oo 3 OJ &J3 >Q ID to to S_ i+_ OJ Q. E 4-» 3 QJ C to O 4-1 r>, S(/I CO Ol >, to 2 o ss_ 3 OO LU O >• -O CD q; C O -M cC S_ -1— i-H U IC OJ CL +-> O X3 X Q QQ-.

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160

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APPENDIX III. ACTUAL AND PREDICTED NEOFIBER CAPTURES IN 36 POSTHARVEST STUDY FIELDS. Predicted values were obtained from 2 regression equations, one with 2 variables (2-var) and one with 4 variables (4-var). 2-var: Y = 0.11 (y-sum) + 0.86 (trap-bs) 1.50, where y-sum equals the sum of trapped burrow systems' dimensions across rows and trap-bs equals the number of burrow systems trapped, per field. 4-var: Y = 0.10 (y-sum) + 10.36 (1 [low density field] or 2 [high density field]) + 0.21 (burrows opened) 0.10 (burrows plugged) 8.53. Field

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162 APPENDIX III.— Continued 16 CN-N 3 1 4 18 AN-N 3 14 18 CN-S 1 12 18 EN-N 3 2 3 18 FN-N 1 1 3 22 FN-N 4 8 6 24 AS-N 24 25 27 24 BN-N 7 3 4 24 CN-N 7 9 7 26 CN-S 31 29 31 28 GN-S 22 18 21 28 HN-S 11 8 9 30 GN-S 24 23 26 30 HN-N 3 2 3 32 EN-N 26 29 29 32 GN-N 12 . 14 11 34 AN-N 9 9 8 34 CN-N 26 18 22 Actual Predicted Field Captures Value 95% PI — 2-var 4-var 2-var 4-var 0, 9

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192 24 CS E -t^May 151 SF Sep ••201AF -204JM 2fl3SF 202 JF o

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193 2c i ais = 3 5

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194 (A U 4 !> \ r I n M r 4 -4-4 i a 01 Q 2 en *o 4 g3 in 3 *«» >, < 2 T I

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195 i -NI •

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196 *«>'";= I SI3i *8f = A

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197 < D ^ < Q ~ o s; » z ~ o ^ a = 55 S C/D < < « = = = _ ^ «3 en • •3 — 2 T

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-N198

PAGE 208

APPENDIX VI. IDENTITY, SEX AND AGE, LOCATION(S), PERIOD OF RADIOTRACKING AND FATE OF RATIO-COLLARED NEOFIBER IN 6 FLORIDA SUGARCANE FIELDS. Muskrats in 14 CN and 6 BN were tracked in 1979; those in 8 FS, 8 GS, 8 HS, and 24 CS were tracked in 1980-1981. Identification numbers correspond to those in Appendix II. Field

PAGE 209

200 APPENDIX VI.— Continued. Field

PAGE 210

201 APPENDIX VI.— Continued. Field

PAGE 211

APPENDIX VII. NEOFIBER CAPTURED OR RADIO-LOCATED IN ADDITIONALLY TRAPPED

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203 APPENDIX VII. —Continued. Burrow Field System a/ Not included in total Months Trapped

PAGE 213

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lynn Walsh Lefebvre was born on April 11, 1949, in New York City. She grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 1967. She majored in biology at the University of Delaware, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in 1971. She received a Master of Science degree in wildlife management from the University of Massachusetts in 1973. Her advisor was Wendell E. Dodge, Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit Leader. Lynn has been a research biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1973. She spent one year in the Washington Office as an assistant in the Mammal and Nonmigratory Birds and Marine Mammals programs. She has been working in Gainesville since 1974, in the Section of Mammal Damage Control, Denver Wildlife Research Center, under the supervision of Nicholas R. Holler and John L. Seubert. Her work has primarily focused on rodent populations and their damage to Florida sugarcane. She married Paul W. Lefebvre in April 1976. 204

PAGE 214

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ^f^^^ rman ogy I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. armine A. Lanciam ftA^\^UUn^ Ca Professor of Zoology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. m//i/ ^'^ Katherine C. Ewel Associate Professor of Forest Resources and Conservation This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Zoology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosphy. December 1982 Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

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UF00098269_00001.mets
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METS:behaviorSec VIEWS Options available to user for viewing this item
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zoomable JPEG2000s JP2_Viewer()
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UFDC_Interface_Loader