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Using Cape Sable seaside sparrow distribution data for water management decision support

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Abstract

The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis; hereafter sparrow) is endemic to south Florida and a key indicator species of marl prairie, the most diverse freshwater community in the Florida Everglades. Marl prairie habitat is shaped by intermediate levels of disturbances such as flooding, drying, and fire, which maintain periphyton production (Gaiser et al. 2011), vegetation composition (Sah et al. 2011), and habitat structure for wildlife (Lockwood et al. 2003). Historically, patches of marl prairie shifted in response to changing climatic conditions,; however, habitat loss and hydrologic alteration have restricted the sparrow’s range and increased their sensitivity to changing hydropatterns. As a result, sparrow numbers have declined as much as 60% range-wide since 1992 (Curnutt et al. 1998, Nott et al. 1998). Currently, the sparrow is restricted to the freshwater prairies of the Everglades National Park (ENP) and Big Cypress Preserve (Lockwood et al. 1997). Because this non-migratory bird is restricted in its range it was among the first species to be listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on March 11, 1967 (Pimm et al. 2000). Now protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the sparrow is listed as an endangered species, and the marl prairies that it resides in are listed as critical habitat. Since its designation as an endangered species, federal agencies have a statutory obligation to not jeopardize the survival of the species or modify its critical habitat. However, there are still uncertainties in how to increase suitable habitat within and surrounding the six existing sparrow subpopulations (Fig. 1) which are vulnerable to environmental stochasticity because of their small population size and restricted range. Since Because maintenance and creation of suitable habitat is seen as the most important pathway to the persistence of sparrow subpopulations (Sustainable Ecosystems Institute 2007), emphasis should be on identifying factors affecting sparrow habitat suitability and expanding the total area of suitable habitat over a gradient of environmental conditions. Our objective is to improve the definition of suitable sparrow habitat based on the relationship between daily sparrow distributions from 1992-present and hydrologic and habitat variables. Further, these models can provide an estimate of habitat quality when linked with estimates of reproductive responses.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Using Cape Sable seaside sparrow distribution data for water management decision support
Year Published 2016
Language English
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Title Report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
First page 1
Last page 19
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N