Future research might benefit from more explicitly estimating the effects of potential variation in predator density and home‐range variation and its relationship with prey occupancy at survey sites, across multiple scales. The endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit (S. p. hefneri), is only found in the southern Florida Keys. Exotic predators such as free‐ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) pose an additional threat to these endangered small mammals. Cats were removed and new cats recruited at sites throughout the course of our study. They are most active at night, dusk and dawn, the same time many of the marsh rabbit's predators — owls, foxes, bobcats and alligators — are active as well. Now, only a few hundred rabbits remain on just a few of the keys, including Boca Chica, Sugarloaf and Big Pine. This species has a brown dorsal (back); gray belly, small ears, and a grayish-brown tail (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001). Our results suggest that while rabbits can colonize and persist at sites where cats occur, it is the number of individual cats at a site that more strongly influences rabbit occupancy and colonization. We observed nine free‐ranging cat colonization events and 27 site extinction events between the primary survey periods. Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, also known as the Lower Keys marsh rabbit, is an endangered subspecies of marsh rabbit named after Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is an endangered wild rabbit living in the Florida Keys.Subtle changes in sea levels have deeply affected their access to suitable habitat. Marsh rabbit mortality increased above baseline rates at temperatures over ≈ 25°C, rising to over 11% per week when average temperatures were more than 27°C . Humphrey, editor. Distribution; Notes; Marsh Rabbit Distribution . This removal effort was substantial considering 2013 camera trap surveys only identified 54 individuals on the refuge and density estimates suggested an island‐wide abundance of 120+ individual cats (Cove et al., 2018). Because the first primary survey periods occurred over two seasons, we compared a year‐specific model to a constant model to determine whether we needed to account for variation between 2013 and 2014 sampling in subsequent models. Lower Keys marsh rabbit) is endemic to the Lower Florida Keys. (2011) observed that interior freshwater marshes were more important refugia for marsh rabbits than coastal patches. We used LiDar data to calculate the mean elevation surrounding each camera trap site because elevation determines the susceptibility of sites to flooding and saltwater incursion from storms and hurricanes. Three of the sixteen models were contained in the 95% confidence set explaining variation in free‐ranging domestic cat site use dynamics (Table S3). "Earth's Endangered Creatures - Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit Facts" (Online) - Licensed article from Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Five models including the relative change in individual free‐ranging cats detected at each site received more support than the constant colonization model (Table 1). Previous research examining marsh rabbit distribution and dynamics was based on pellet surveys or radio telemetry of individual rabbits (Eaton et al., 2011; Forys, 1995; Schmidt et al., 2010), but these methods have limitations compared to our camera trap surveys. Specifically, we hypothesized that habitat characteristics, such as freshwater marsh and patch size, would relate positively to marsh rabbit occupancy, but that rabbit occurrence would be negatively related to factors associated with anthropogenic development. Shrubland habitat along the Eastern Trail recently has been expanded for the endangered New England cottontail rabbit. A few organizations might do rehabilitation of this rabbit. Current management objectives for LKMR recovery include assessing their co-occurrence with cats and other mesopredators, as well as modeling patch occupancy and restoration across their range. Common Name . [7] They are strictly limited to regions with ready access to water, unlike most rabbits. Sylvilagus palustris hefneri was federally recognized as an endangered species on June 21, 1990. Author. We created daily detection histories (0 = no detection and 1 = detected) for marsh rabbits and free‐ranging cats at each camera site. We deployed camera traps to study free-ranging cats in National Wildlife Refuges and state parks on Big Pine Key and Key Largo and used spatial models to estimate cat population dynamics and stable isotope analyses to examine cat diets. We used the most influential covariates, as determined by β coefficient 95% confidence intervals that excluded 0, from the previous single‐species models for each species in the subsequent co‐occurrence models. These areas flood during the rainy season and might have further value as refugia from potential predators that do not cross open water. Marsh Rabbit. Additionally, we compared 15 a priori dynamic models of cat site use of camera trap sites following the same framework, excluding any covariates on colonization, and including a year effect based on the first year the site was sampled (e.g., 2013 vs. 2014) because it was supported in the initial candidate comparison (Table S2). Occupancy models commonly use camera trap data to assess individual species distributions, community dynamics, and species interactions (MacKenzie, Bailey, & Nichols, 2004; MacKenzie et al., 2002). Aggregation of two imperfectly detected imperilled freshwater fishes: understanding community structure and co-occurrence for multispecies conservation. Fish and Wildlife Service, on Big Pine Key, Florida (Figure 2). Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) – classified as an endangered species. These findings indicate that continued predator management would likely benefit endangered small mammals as they recolonize restored habitats. Leporidae. One of these is the Lower Keys Marsh rabbit. This endangered bunny was named after none other than Hugh Hefner himself. We then used dynamic co‐occurrence models to further examine predator–prey relationships by including conditional probabilities of occupancy and species interaction factors (MacKenzie et al., 2004). We used dynamic occupancy models to determine factors associated with marsh rabbit occurrence, colonization, extinction, and the co‐occurrence of marsh rabbits and cats during a period of predator removal. This rabbit was historically found from Big Pine Key to Key West and was common, but now is found primarily … However, the effectiveness of predator removal and the effects of anthropogenic habitat modifications and restoration have not been evaluated. They are found in brackish and fresh water marshes, in flooded agricultural areas, and in swamps. The Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli) and Key Largo cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola) are federally endangered subspecies endemic to the tropical hardwood hammocks of Key Largo, Florida. Current management strategies that eliminate old roads and allow mosquito ditches to fill with sediment will help restore these habitats and their hydrology, both of which will reduce saltwater retention following storm surges. Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit, also known as Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, is a species of the marsh rabbit and is named after the Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Significant covariate effects and a priori predictions that correspond with estimates are bolded. We ranked all models by their relative AIC value and model weights. Animal detection probabilities often vary on and off trails, so we also included presence of human trails as a binary covariate if camera stations were located directly on or off trails. Habitat destruction and fragmentation associated with residential and commercial construction activities over the past 20 years is responsible for the Lower Keys marsh rabbit™s endangered status. Forys (1995) concluded that cats were important marsh rabbit predators based on mortalities of radio‐tagged individuals, but Schmidt et al. Endangered Marsh Rabbit update-- There are many plants and animals we are concerned about post Irma. METAPOPULATION ECOLOGY AND RECOVERY OF THE ENDANGERED LOWER KEYS MARSH RABBIT A Dissertation by PAIGE MCGEE SCHMIDT Submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies of Texas A&M University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Approved by: Co-Chairs of Committee, Roel R. Lopez Robert A. McCleery Committee Members, Nova J. Silvy Fred … Increased development in the area further impacts the rabbits’ chance of survival because it not only blocks the rabbits from moving inland, it also blocks the necessary vegetation from “migrating” inland as well. We also buffered all sites where cats were trapped in 2014 and 2015 by 500 m and considered any camera sites that fell within those buffers as trapped sites, which we included as a binary covariate in our analyses. We then modeled detection probability (p) as constant across surveys under the global occupancy parameterization. However, we suggest that the subsampling of those sites and including additional sites from a survey in 2014 reduced any bias toward free‐ranging cats for the dynamic occupancy modeling approach from the resurvey in 2015. The status of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit is considered to be declining. They do inhabit a number of the Lower Keys islands as well. School of Environmental and Forest Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, U.S. Geological Survey, NC Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA, U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. SCHMIDT-DISSERTATION.pdf (1.273Mb) Date 2011-02-22. Thirteen of the 25 models were contained in the 95% confidence set explaining variation in marsh rabbit occupancy dynamics (Table 1). Metapopulation Ecology and Recovery of the Endangered Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit. Although once abundant on many of the Lower Keys including Key West, habitat destruction has limited this marsh rabbit to small populations on a few keys. ), Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data. Below are publications associated with this project. Meet the rare Lower Keys marsh rabbit and browse photographs by Joel Sartore. The detection interaction factor varied significantly and was lower than 1 at sites first surveyed in the 2013 primary survey period (δ = 0.53 ± 0.16SE) and was higher than 1 (δ = 3.55 ± 0.95SE) at sites first surveyed in the 2014 primary survey period (Table 3). As many as seven individual cats visited a single camera trapping site, suggesting that the potential for interactions with marsh rabbits also increases with cat abundance. Working off-campus? Additionally, the U.S. Although the marsh rabbit is widespread all across the southern part of the U.S., the so-called Hefner’s rabbit is endangered and inhabits higher positioned areas with salt marshes or freshwater marshes, most of them are positioned in the area of Florida Keys. These relatively short sampling periods are comparable to previous occupancy studies applied to camera trap data of small mammals and mesopredators (e.g., Jones et al., 2016a). (2015) concluded that recent marsh rabbit declines in south Florida are a result of predation by exotic pythons, in spite of high habitat quality and rabbit fecundity. Therefore, we considered these sites to be unbiased for occupancy estimation of both species because they are representative of the entire wildlife refuge. We also hypothesized a negative relationship between marsh rabbit occupancy and cat occurrence, and a positive relationship between cat removal and rabbit site colonization rates. Select from premium Marsh Rabbit of the highest quality. Marsh rabbit occurrence ranged from very low (ψR = 0.07 ± 0.06SE) in small coastal and upland habitat patches to high (ψR = 0.80 ± 0.11SE) in large freshwater marshes (Table 3). The Lower Keys marsh rabbit is one of many endangered endemic species of the Florida Keys. In contrast, the marsh rabbit has a small gray-brown tail. The Florida marsh rabbit (S. p. paludicola), occupies the peninsular region of Florida, from south of the Florida Panhandle to the upper Keys. Free‐ranging cat site extinction probability varied according to the time since the primary survey period with extinction probability higher at sites with 2 years of predator trapping (ε = 0.70 ± 0.11SE) versus sites with only 1 year of predator trapping (ε = 0.20 ± 0.09SE). Lower Keys marsh rabbit) is endemic to the Lower Florida Keys. When both rabbits and cats occur at a site, the co‐detection interaction factors varied according to site‐specific covariates. A recently published integrated pest management plan (USFWS, 2013) described protection strategies for endangered species, including the removal of exotic predators, on refuge lands. Rare and endangered biota of Florida, volume 1: mammals. This rabbit was historically found from Big Pine Key to Key West and was common, but now is found primarily on Boca Chica and Big Pine Key, with less than 1000 remaining. ), tegus (Salvator merianae), and feral and free‐ranging domestic cats (Felis catus) are now established throughout south Florida and are potential threats to endangered endemic species such as the marsh rabbit in the Keys (Cove, Gardner, Simons, Kays, & O'Connell, 2018; Dorcas et al., 2012; Engeman, Jacobson, Avery, & Meshaka, 2011). Sylvilagus palustris (marsh rabbit) is found in parts of the southeastern United States. It is a strong swimmer and found only near regions of water. It's small with short, dark brown fur and a grayish-white belly. Rabbit occurrence was positively related to freshwater habitat and patch size, but was negatively related to the number of individual cats detected at each site. You can identify marsh rabbits from the Eastern cottontail by their smaller ears and the dark, bluish-gray fur on its tail giving it the nickname “blue tail.” The global model was most supported to predict initial occupancy, but only three covariates were strong with parameter 95% confidence intervals that excluded 0 (Table 2). The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is one of many endangered endemic species of the Florida Keys. Furthermore, marsh rabbit population projection models suggested that cat predation was likely the single most important factor hindering marsh rabbit recovery (Forys & Humphrey, 1999; LaFever et al., 2008). This town ai n't Big enough for both of us…or is it therefore, we these. 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