An Evaluation of Movement Patterns and Effects of Habitat Patch Size on the Demography of the Florida Mouse (Podomys floridanus)
Degree Granting Department
Henry Mushinsky, Ph.D.
Earl McCoy, Ph.D.
James Garey, Ph.D.
habitat fragmentation, mark-recapture, program MARK, metapopulation, genetic analyses
Habitat degradation by humans has been the main reason for the decline in numbers of P. floridanus, the only mammal indigenous to the state of Florida, in the past century. The mouse inhabits what remains of scrub and sandhill associations, which are characterized by patches of sandy soils within a more mesic landscape. It has long been accepted that small populations are more prone to decline and extinction than are larger ones as a result of environmental fluctuations. I hypothesized that the demography of a population of P. floridanus would be affected by a restriction in numbers through habitat patch size in a deterministic way, even without any environmental effects. I also examined dispersal and looked for evidence of metapopulation dynamics. Mark-recapture data were collected from ten scrub fragments in Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, Polk County, FL, ranging in size from 0.5 to 170 ha. Program MARK was used to model survival, recruitment and population growth rate of P. floridanus as a function of habitat patch size and to evaluate temporary migration patterns. Recruitment was positively associated with patch size, but contrary to expectations survival and population growth were negatively associated with patch size. Results suggested that survival was negatively affected by ear tagging, although this effect was temporary. Evidence of migration was found, but would probably have been greater if trapping had been continued until after peak reproduction, when juveniles tend to disperse in search of resources. The degree of interbreeding among patches can only be determined with the help of genetic analyses. Microsatellites have become useful in analyses at the population level because of their high degree of variability. Future research including genetic analyses is recommended to evaluate the importance of gene flow among subgroups to demography and the viability of the study population.
Scholar Commons Citation
Lukanik, Irmgard, "An Evaluation of Movement Patterns and Effects of Habitat Patch Size on the Demography of the Florida Mouse (Podomys floridanus)" (2007). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.