Source-sink dynamics of Florida Key deer on Big Pine Key, Florida Academic Article uri icon


  • The endangered Florida Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is endemic to the Florida Keys, Florida, USA, with Big Pine Key (BPK) supporting most (approx 60%) of the population. Habitat loss and fragmentation have altered the amount of available habitat, creating areas of varying suitability; north BPK (NBPK) is believed to contain more optimal habitat than south BPK (SBPK), which is more developed and fragmented. We evaluated the source-sink dynamics of Key deer using a sex- and stage-structured, stochastic matrix model. Model results indi-cated that the NBPK population of Key deer was increasing ( = 1.02), whereas the SBPK population was decreasing ( = 0.87). Without dispersal from the north, the SBPK population has a 97% probability of falling below 25 individuals (quasi-extinction threshold) in the next 20 years. The higher risk to Key deer in SBPK can be explained by relative habitat-quality differences between the 2 areas. House density, amount of roads, number offences, and amount of development were all greater in SBPK. Collectively, study results indicate that SBPK can be described as an ecological sink with a nonviable population supplemented by deer dispersal from NBPK (source). Care should be taken to preserve the source population and its habitat. Thus, we propose limiting future development in NBPK (high-quality source habitat). The US 1 highway corridor project has the potential to decrease Key deer mortality due to vehicle collisions, and we recommend that future management goals continue to address mortality factors on SBPK (low-quality sink habitat).

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Harveson, P. M., Lopez, R. R., Silvy, N. J., & Frank, P. A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Harveson, PM||Lopez, RR||Silvy, NJ||Frank, PA

editor list (cited editors)

  • Hall.

publication date

  • October 2004