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Shopping Centers as Panther Habitat: Inferring Animal Locations from Models

David S Maehr, University of Kentucky
Jeffery L Larkin
John J Cox

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Abstract

A recent model of Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) habitat erred in arbitrarily creating buffers around radio locations collected during daylight hours on the assumption that study animals were only at rest during these times. The buffers generated by this method likely cause an overestimation of the amounts and kinds of habitats that are used by the panther. This, and other errors, could lead to the impression that unfragmented forest cover is unimportant to panther conservation, and could encourage inaccurate characterizations of panther habitat. Previous 24-hour monitoring of activity and activity readings made during routine telemetry flights indicate that high levels of activity occur in the early morning hours. Literature on the behavior of the species does not support the creation of large buffers around telemetry locations to compensate for the lack of nighttime telemetry data. A thorough examination of ongoing studies that use global positioning systems may help calibrate future Florida panther habitat models.

Key words

activity, Florida panther, habitat, telemetry data
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087