Impacts of urbanization on Florida Key deer behavior and population dynamics
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Rapid human population growth and urbanization have had a negative impact on species biodiversity. As competition for resources between man and wildlife continues, it is important to understand the effects of urbanization on species. Endangered Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) are endemic to the Florida Keys which have undergone rapid human population growth and development over the past 30 years. Our study objectives were to evaluate the impacts of urban development on Key deer habitat use, population dynamics, behavior, and body mass. We used data from two comprehensive studies on Key deer spanning 30 years to evaluate these changes. Our results suggest that Key deer have become more urbanized, using urban areas more today than they did 30 years ago. Contrary to our predictions, survival was higher for more urban deer than for less urban deer. Problems still exist with mortality factors heavily impacting some portions of the deer population including lower survival associated with less urban male deer. Analysis of Key deer body mass also was converse to our predictions as deer weights appear to have increased over time. Collectively, our results suggest that over the past 30 years Key deer have become more urbanized and that deer plasticity has allowed them to adapt and persist in an urbanizing environment. However, the future ability of Key deer to persist in an environment with continued urban development is unknown. At some threshold, urban development would become unsustainable and unlike other forms of habitat change or environmental disturbances, urban development is in most cases irreversible requiring careful planning in habitat conservation strategies. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
author list (cited authors)
Harveson, P. M., Lopez, R. R., Collier, B. A., & Silvy, N. J.