Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Joni Downs Firat, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ruiliang Pu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Yujie Hu, Ph.D.


GIS, Habitat Analysis, HSI, Suitability Variables


The Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis) is a state threatened endemic subspecies of the Sandhill Crane (Nesbitt & Tacha, 1997). With a population that was estimated at a maximum of 5,000 individuals in 2003 (Nesbitt & Hatchitt, 2008), it is imperative to identify potentially viable habitats, as Florida is rapidly developing. This research develops a Habitat Suitability Index model to determine unsuitable to optimally suitable habitat locations throughout west-central Florida. To do so, six suitability variables based on the crane’s life history were evaluated: Potential nesting area, immediate nesting area, wetland coverage, foraging area, brooding area, and road proximity. The results were compiled into a map, which showcased a gradient of habitat suitability within the Southwest Florida Water Management District boundary. Validation of this model included assessing the 2013-2017 stop data obtained from the North American Breeding Bird Survey for two routes in the project area. However, this data proved to be insufficient and unreliable, resulting in insignificance. The intention of this research was to prioritize those areas that are of optimal suitability to assist on conservation management of this threatened species. However, it highlighted the necessity for updated research, data, and population information for the Florida Sandhill Crane.