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i WILDLIFE REHABILITATION IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: A STUDY OF THE CONSERVATION PROVIDED BY RE H A BILITATION CENTERS BY KATHERINE E LENORE FRENCH A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Natural Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Sandra Gilchrist Sarasota, Florida March, 2010
ii Table of Contents page List of Fig .v vi Abstr v i i .. Chapter One: Urbanization and the urban gradient as a threat to tr .. Chapter Two: Wildlife Rehabilitation and threats to populations ................... .2 3 Chapter Three: Database analysis of three Southwest Florida wildlife rehabilitatio 3 2 Me .. .32 Center Descriptions .. C Cent ...35 Compariso ..37 Resul Av Chapter Four: Data Discuss Analysis of Results Reptilia Discussion . Conc Further S Refer 61 Appendix 2: Vertebrates of Florida with Appendix 3: Common Vertebrate Inhabitant
iii Dedication and Acknowledgements First and foremost I would like to thank my mother, Pamela Joy, for supporting me in every endeavor I have ever attempted. Her bravery, dedication and patience inspire me when the whole world seems dark. She has allowed me to follow my own path, no matter how meandering and turbulent, and that is a gift greater than any other I can imagine. that nothing is worth doing if not for the adventure, has guided me on the path to where I stand today. I would also like to thank my late grandfather, George Caleb II, for the gift of my undergraduate education and all of the hopes and dreams he fostered for my future. My academic advisors (and their patien ce!) have been a gift from above. From encouraging me to study what I was actually interested in, to the final whirlwind stretch, Dr. Sandra Gilchrist has been a wonderful professor and advisor. She was in my corner when no one else was, and the quality of learning I have experienced from her classes have inspired me to continue to graduate programs which I had previously written off. An independent study project sponsored by Dr. Meg Lowman is what inspired me to learn more about conservation and rehabilita tion, and the time that I spent in Tambillo, Ecuador allowed me to learn about rainforest ecology, g overnmental organizations, rehabilitation centers, and myself. The classes taught by Dr. Al Beulig rekindled my interest in animal medicine, a subject I thou ght I had left behind years ago. The academic experience I have had at New College has been both trying and incredibly rewarding, and several professors here have touched my life.
iv I am deeply indebted to two non academic advisors. Dr. Richard Funk of Mya kka City Veterinary Services taught me new aspects of veterinary medicine and new ways to approach problems. Dalma Zsalako, formerly of Hacienda Santa Martha: Centro de Rescate de Fauna Silvestre gave me guidance and has remarkable presence in the field o f rehabilitation and release of wild animals which I deeply admire. This thesis would not have been possible without the wonderful cooperation of my Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers, and I am very thankful for the information and perspective provided thorou gh my meetings with the directors the centers. I know there is no way for me to fully express my gratitude to my dear friends who have stuck by me, no matter the lack of sleep and cranky behavior. Diana Ward, Shannon Strischek and Austin Taylor, thank you for understanding and support through this endeavor. Though I could name dozens of people who have been wonderful and understanding through my time at New College, you have very much shaped the outcome of this year through much needed distractions an d laughter. Finally, I would like to dedicate this baccalaureate dissertation to two entities: Lea, a young female ocelot at a Santa Martha Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Tambillo, Ecuador, whose life must be spent in captivity due to habitat loss and habituation, as well as Sydney Peyton and the future generations who will find the Earth full of many things worth saving and will make the necessary sacrifices to save them.
v List of Figures page Figure 1 : Southwest Florida population growth b y county 1900 Figure 2 : .. 5 Figure 3 : 1980 Population: Rural to urban population percentage ... 5 Figure 4 : 5 Figure 6 6
vi List of Tables page Table 2 : Direct eff Table 3: 14 15 Table 5 : 18 Table 6 : Classification syste ms for species of conservation concern: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the International Union for the Conservation of 7 Table 7: Studies find diseases to be spre ad through Wild 8 Table 8 : 3 7 3 8 Table 10 : Ten most common birds treated per center in decreasing order (2005 2009) 40 Table 11 : Ten most common mammalian species treated at Centers One and Three in decreasing order (2005 41 Table 12 : Ten most common reptiles treated at Center Three (2005 2009).... 4 1 Table 13: Endangered Aves: conservation status, avian intake rank, avian .. 4 3 Table 14 : Endangered Mammal listing, mammal intake rank, mammal intake percent, release percent treated ... 4 4 Table 15 : Endangered Reptile intake, reptile intake rank, percent rank and percent release of species treated a t cen 5 Table 16 : ... 4 6 Table 17: Li ... .. 4 8 Table 18 : Common mammals by type ... 50 Table 19 : Common reptiles by type treated a ... 2
vii WILDLIFE REHABILITATION IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: A STUDY OF THE CONSERVATION PROVIDED BY REHABILITATION CENTERS Katherine E. French New College of Florida, 2010. A BSTRACT Southwest Florida is in per il of losi ng vertebrate biodiversity due to recent local environmental changes caused by humans. The alterations, which include habitat loss, fragmentation, and alteration, affect nearly every aspect of the unique ecosystems found t here including species diversity a nd trophic level interactions. Changes to these integral aspects of the ecosystems have dramatic effects on which taxa can continue to survive and be present in the locale and which become rare. The databases of three Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers in Sou thwest Florida are analyzed to understand what conservation services are provided by community run centers to those species designated as threatened or endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Lastly, further research and suggestions for improving the direct conservation values provided by Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. Dr. Sandra Gilchrist PhD. Division of Natural Sciences
Introduction The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the problems facing wildlife in regard to urbanization and the possible reprieve the actions of wildlife rehabilitation may provide. Specie s listed as conservation depende nt by the US Fish and Wildl ife Service (USFWS), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are of particular concern. Global biodiversity is rapidly decreasing and is projected to continue to do so (Davies et al. 2008) The loss of vertebrate biodiversity is largely due to human incurred alteration of landscapes, which result s in habitat loss, fragmentation and alteration (Marzluff 2001) In the examination of the factors affecting Florida wildlife historical and ecological perspectives are necessary for a complete understanding of the environment. The environment is, of course affected by human activities, not the least of which is urban development. History of humans in Florida Table 1 A brief timeline of Florida, 10000BCE 1950 CE 10,000BCE Paleo Indian societies flourished in the US and several groups existed in what is now Florida. Around that time, climate shifts changed the areas occupied by the Floridian peninsula to a narrower and drier strip of land (FFWCC 2008). These shifts led to the loss of mega fauna and the transition from nomadic hunting tribes to settled hunter gatherers with a growing dependence on plant matter as a food source. 600 500 CE A water table rise near 600CE was a ccompanied by population increase of the human residents of Southwest Florida and a nother shift in the ecosystem and trophic levels (Lewis 1995). The Mississippian culture, known for the characteristic mounds they built, became predominant. The regional Mi 500 CE. Columbian Contact (1492) At the time of European contact the Tesqueta and Calusa societies were dominant in South Florida. Tesqueta occupied the area where present day Miami sits and Calusa terr itory ranged from southernmost tip of Florida west coast to near present day Clearwater (McNichol
2 1941). Popu lation fluctuations were depende nt on the availability of resources and the settlements were mainly on river deltas. 1500 1700 The arrival of th e Spanish conquistadors brought new war, disease, animals and Catholic missionaries to Florida. T he Spanish explored and claimed Florida for the Spanish crown. De Soto and other explorers mingled with the American Indian nations settled in the area, but as exploration of North America progressed, the relations between the ruling government and the tribes became increasingly hostile. 1700 1800 In the 1700s, increasing European pressure on the Creeks in Virginia inspired a migration to South Florida, where t hey became known as the Seminoles (Steele 2010). The Tesqueta and Calusa tribe populations were decimated by recurrent war and disease and the remnants of these tribes are thought to have assimilated into the Seminole population. In 1763 Spain traded Flori da to Great Britain in exchange for Havana, Cuba. The treaty of San Lorenzo (1795) returned the Florida territory to Spain, which offered land grants to settlers of any nationality. 1800 1900 The 1819 the Adams Onis Treaty transferred the property to the United States Government. During the era of Manifest Destiny pressure for American expansion into American Indian lands increased dramatically and in 1819 Florida Governor Andrew Jackson launched the Seminole Wars to eradicate the Seminole from Florida. By the time statehood was achieved in 1845, only about 300 American Indians (mainly of Seminole and Muskogee descent) remained in the Everglades (Green 1982). Many members of the Seminole and Ok lahoma. The remainder of the nineteenth century was plagued with war. The Third Seminole War (1855 1858) was started because of continued White encroachment on Seminole lands; the Civil War (1861 1865) began after Florida became one of the founding nations of the Confederacy. Many freed slaves were incorporated into the Seminole populations in the Everglades and nearby wetlands (Lewis 1995). 1900 1950 The early twentieth century was met with rapid expansion and affluence. In the 1920s wealthy businessmen b uilt coastal estates as wetlands were drained for agricultural use. (Williams 1983). The Florida real estate bust of the 1920s pressured the government to provide more Florida land for development. Elite tourism increased and the first amusement parks such as Cypress Gardens were opened in the 1930s. After World War II, American affluence and new social programs ( e.g., Social Security) allowed the elder generation to retire to a sub tropical climate such as Florida (Mormino 2002) 1950 2000 The embargo on C uba m ade domestic Florida an excellent and practical vacation spot the definition of American vacation and tourists and expatriates (Mormino 2002). The population growth of urban cente rs increased rapidly.
3 South and tourism after World War II, creating a demand in the service an d tourism industry. A significant population increase began around 1950 (Figure 1), and a s o f 2000, Florida was the fourth fastest growing state in the country (Census 2001 ). By the end of the twentieth century, large numbers of out of state migrants had settled mainly in Florida cities while the rural population growth rate stayed constan t Flo remained below the national level and far below the South Atlantic region through the 1990s (F igure s 2 4) T he c ontrast of Floridian urbanity against regional and national averages highlights the intensity of urban develo pment in Florida. Recently the high growth trend slowed due to the weakened economy. Florida Economic Outlook (2008) depicts the overall growth rate of Florida dropping deeply below the national average and projections of population increase are expected t o slow from 2.0% 2.6% (early 2000s) to 1.34% in 2010 2011 Historically, growth has resumed after difficult economies pass, though the expense of Florida real estate and more limited supply of land may decrease this effect.
4 Figure s 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 demonstrate the ratio of urban to rural living in Florida to regional and national ratios from 1970 to 1990.
5 Figure 1.1 The growth of human population in Southwest Florida was most significant after 1950 due to new government programs and the interstate system. Data from Census 2000.
6 An Ecological In troduction Southwest Florida is made up of sensitive ecosystem s with many demands from bot h natural and human based sources Southwest Florida consists mainly of the flat wood and wetland ecosystems The flatwoods ring around the northern edge of the Evergl ades and include prairie like areas, waterways, and pine and oak forests, which slowly give way to wetlands like Big Cypress and the Everglades in the south ( Army Corps of Engineers 1988 ). The wetlands were historically thought to be uninhabitable and only navigable by the Seminoles who lived within (Weisskoff 2000) In 1980 about 12 million Florida acres were wetlands ( Army Corps of Engineers 1988 ) which suffered years of draining and 'reclamation' attempts by both the government and the private sector ( Wa lker and Solecki 2004 ). Today 7 million hectares of wetlands in the Everglades are federally protected (Weisskoff 2000) Despite the apparent fragility, the damaging expansion of cities and human impact continues. T here are four major changes to the delica te Florida landscape which continue to be present today : land conversion, fire exclusion, the spread of alien species, and water quality degradation ( Ewel and Meyers 1990). The urban population growth of Southwest Florida has increased rapidly in the twen tieth century. The high levels of human population growth and development threaten the ecosystems, environments and native fauna of Southwest Florida. These threats are real and growing, as discussed in chapter one. As urban development continues, those sp ecies negatively affected by urbanization will become increasingly rare. Chapter two introduces wildlife rehabilitation and the threats to wildlife populations pose by wildlife rehabilitation centers. The data presented in chapter three show that direct co nservation
7 of rare species is not provided through the wildlife rehabilitation centers studied and on the contrary, may pose threats to wildlife which are outlined. Discussion in chapter four outlines the current operational conservation services provided by Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. Further study and possible improvements are suggested to raise the level of conservation wildlife rehabilitation centers provide and the amount of understanding we can gain from them.
8 Chapter One So uthwest Florida is in peril of losing many of the unique species native to the peninsula. Recent human inflicted environmental degradation such as habitat loss, fragmentation, and other alterations, affect nearly every aspect of the unique ecosystems found here including species diversity and trophic level interactions (Faeth et al. 2005). Changes to such integral aspects of ecosystems have dramatic effects on which taxa continue to be present in the locale. Anthropogenic changes within the past centurey h ave occurred rapidly in Florida a nd are expected to grow in intensity. This expectation is based on two factors: first, that humans have proven themselves to be the most environment altering animal on the planet (Vitousek et al 2001), and second, that the global human population growth will continue (McDonald et al. 2008). The ways in which humans change their environments are immense and include introducing foreign fauna and flora (landscaping, pets), road construction, water quality degradation, building structures from foreign materials and others These changes will continue as the populations of cities are expected to increase an additional 1.75 billion people by 2030 (McDonald et al. 2008). As cities grow, their influence on the surrounding environmen t will also increase. As the influence increased, the number of species endangered by urbanization will rise. D evelopment for human s disrupts every layer of natural processes, and according to Balmford and others trial habitats have been cleared for such use. The development of land results in natural habitat loss, fragmentation and alteration, which are the main causes of species composition al and trophic level dynamic shifts (Faeth et al. 2005). Habitat loss crea tes vulnerable transient
9 populations, while fragmentation and alteration produce situations which disproportionally favor some species and hinder others. The results of such changes are not fully understood but a daptive populations increase and specialist population s decrease during and after human influence (Stutchbury 2007) Miller and Hobbs (2002) found that Florida is one of three states home to species listed on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) affected by human produced alterations and that urbaniza tion is the primary cause of decline for many species listed in the ESA. This is an indication of just how dangerous development is for species. Additionally, the coastal species are considered at higher risk for endangerment and extinction by development. increase as development continues. Human produced Changes Human produced changes alter the productivity and species makeup of the nearby habitat. Human altered landscapes is the en d result of altering natural states of landscape to human use landscapes, (i.e., agriculture, industrial or residential use). Both p rivate and public property in Southwest Florida has been largely altered to meet this description. Urbanization is the serie s of changes to the natural environment which results in human dominated landscapes, specifically cities or the infrastructure for cities. These changes include alterations of land cover, landscape boundaries, and nutrients available to the systems present and may lead to the development of less stable alternate systems. Table 2 provides the outcomes of several studies pertaining to the effects of urbanization.
10 Table 2 Direct e ffects of u rbanization Bishop 2000 Storm water ponds in urban environments are utilized by transient wildlife but the habitat quality provided is poor, resulting in low resident species richness. Blair 2001 Urbanization is a layered, patc h network of environmental parameters that play out at many different scales and may affect the viability and longevity of isolated populations The species assemblages along the [urban] gradient shifted gradually, demonstrating local extinction of and loc al invasion by different species as the sites become mo re urban. Eason 2010 "In the short term, development is a greater concrete risk to wildlife. The bleeding wound is development; the cancer that'll ki ll you is the climate change." Fleishman and Mac Nally 2007 'Urban' describes both land use and land cover and cover involves increases in hard surfaces. Human addition of [nutrients] often leads to a peak in total species richness at intermediate levels of development masking the differences in respo nse of native and nonnative species to urbanization. Markovchick Nicholls 2007 Conclusions about urbanization are likely to need to be tailored per species, as they all react to changes in the system differently. McDonald 2008 1.75 billion new urban r e sidents are expected by 2030 Rare species affected by urbanization tend to be near coasts on islands and are endemic; these will be the most affected. Pickett 2008 Urban heat island effect is relative to the city size and population density. Urban to r ural gradients impact the occurrence and abundance of various animal species. Rees 1996 Cities concentrate both human population and resource consumption Advantages of urban settlements: Lower costs per capita of infrastructure and public amenities and land; Great potential through economies of scale, co generation and the use of waste process heat; Great potential for reducing energy consumption through walking, cycling, and public transit. Vitousek et al 1997 C urrent rate of loss of genetic viabili ty of species is far above background rates; extinction rates are higher than normal due to urbanization. Table 2. The effects of urbanization are extensive and there are likely more that are not known yet.
11 Urbanization changes the types of habitats available in a given space. The habitat quality p rovided is not necessarily high (Bishop 2000) and many species which require specific resources or cover must leave area s which become urbanized Those species which remain must be disturbance tolerant and adaptable. Advancement along the urban gradient le ads to dramatic species shifts (Pickett et al 2008). These shifts often favor exploiters, or generalist omnivorous scavengers (e.g., opossum and raccoon). Cities do provide some positive aspects for the environment in terms of human consumption (Rees and Wackernagel 1996), mainly ingenuity and the opportunity to reduce human carbon footprints. However actual existence of cities in addition to the pollution produced by them threatens wildlife. It is the presence of cities and modern human populations whic h create dramatic species shifts along the urban gradient. Urbanization begins with the loss in original structures such as forest. This initial infringement removes key stone features of environments and organisms which absorb nutrients and toxins such a s trees. N ew flora and hard surfaces have different absorption or reflection capabilities of heat, rain, and nutrients than the natural setting (Berry 200 2 ). As ne w flora, novel organisms and water levels are introduced the ecosystem changes on macroscopi c and microscopic levels Increased irrigation changes the natural water paths through the system ; human additives are carried efficiently throughout the larger scale environment by extensive waterways The changes facilitated by transformation create oppo rtunities for new or different survival success of organisms that may or may not have been native to the system, and extreme fluctuations in such can create irreversible environmental disasters.
12 Phenomena known as heat islands result from the change in ab sorption Changes in shade and water pathways are associated with buildings and changes in land cover and lead to a large scale alteration of the environment. New found shade provided by building s can change the temperature, processes and organism al compos ition of the soil nearby, and the heat reflected from the surfaces change the immediate surroundings (Berry 200 2 ) to be warmer depend e nt on the absorption capabilities of the neighboring surfaces The flow of water around the structure may be altered from initial water flow patterns and the way that fauna interact with the structure can have dramatic implications. Hard surfaces include asphalt, gravel, buildings, glass and other artificial surfaces and tend to reflect rather than absorb heat, resulting in the heat island effect. This heat island effect dramatically changes the ground environment via erosion, water path alteration, heat absorption and reflection, chemical additives and run off (Maryland Foresters 1998) While pavement protects the immediate covered ground from erosion, the altered water paths resulting can erode deeply in the nearby areas As areas shift to hard surfaces (Fleishman and Mac Nally 2007), the availability of resources change, reducing the number of species which find the habita t suitable. The addition of hard surfaces limit animal presence and traffic (Riley 2006 ) and lead to the micro climate change. Additionally, p hysical buildings which are associated with heat islands, endanger some birds while providing housing for dozens of other 1990 findings pinpointed buildings as the largest cause in migratory bird death in the U nited S tates and is estimated to be responsible for the mortality of between 10 birds per building per year for residential structures and 24 t o 55 birds per building per year for
13 et al. 2008 ). A positive correlation between surface area of windows, bird population density, and bi rd window collision mortalities was found (Hager 2008). Additionally, cre vices and basements become unintended housing for many types of organisms, from invertebrates (such as ants or termites) to vertebrates (roof rats, mice, squirrels, etc.). Predators such as fishers a medium sized carnivorous member of the mustelid family can find the prey residing in building s attractive and have been found lingering near residences and have attacked humans and pets (Zezima 2008). Though buildings may provide some resources for adaptable animals, many shy away to whatever fragments are l eft (Marzlu f f 2005) The changing environment provides some opportunities to animals known as exploiters which can survive and thrive in the newly altered area. The abundance of species capable of thriving in an urbanizing environment is damaging to those animals which cannot thrive in such areas These are the animals endangered by urbanization; they are not often found within urban matrices, and tend to migrate away from disturbances. Even if they can become disturbance tolerant, competition and predatio n pressures from exploiters is high and threatening. The increased exploiter populations, which may predate the rarer species, only compounds the other factors driving the rare species out; when compositional, nutrient, and habitat changes are compounded u pon this, the stability of the rare populations in urban matrices is greatly lowered (Figure 5, pg 21). Habitat loss Habitat loss is all around the worst possible scenario for all species. The destruction of habitat is considered the greatest threat to bi od iversity (Vitousek et al 1997) because
14 of the acute displacement of animals it causes. The resulting transient populations are e xtremely vulnerable to predation, trauma, starvation, competition, and exposure. Na tural causes of habitat loss are fire, flo oding, natural disasters and gradual climate change and are often recovered from or adapted to in relatively few generations. H abitat loss caused by humans is extensive and the areas do not revert back to natural states whether abandoned or maintained Th ough different species thrive on the resources that various habitats provide, losing part of a natural landscape matrix to human causes reduces the stability and flexibility of the remaining ecosystem and endangers the taxa within. The edge effect and hab itat fragmentation Edge effect Table 3 Studies of the edge effect Laurance 2008 fragment matrix interactions, at least insofar as these changes penetrate into fragments and disrupt natur al processes." Large scale edge effects are becoming more evident as more research is conducted. Faeth et al. 2005 Remnant foo d webs differ from the original food webs. Holway et al.2004 When Argentinian ants (nonnative) were present at a non human induced fragment, the native ant populations were decreased. This indicates edge effect is not specific to human dominated systems. Burkey 2003 Though forest density was indistinguishable at 100m and 500m from the edge, the egg predation was higher at 100m than at 500m despite the edge being only a casually used dirt road, not a changed matrix. The edge effect is a consequence of f ragmentation that presents a greater threat than the mere separation of habitat (Table 3 ) The changes associated with edge effects are invasion and disturbance which occur simultaneously. I nvasion and population increase
15 of edge preferring organisms, not ably meso predators and invertebrates, increase predation on the lower trophic levels and introduce new diseases to the native populations. Humans also introduce invasive species, which have the potential to become predators of or competitors with the nati ve fauna. Some invasive non native species have also been identified as edge thrivers (Holway et al 2004). Minimizing human disturbance lessen s the rate of native species loss by reducing the population shifts associated with the urban gradient Limiting the edge effect is the best way to protect the integrity of what is left of the native ecosystems (Soul 1991) by preventing many of the changes associated with edges such as matrix creation, reduction of predators, and genetic stoc h asticity. Top predator populations are reduced by the limiting home range opportunities. The reduction of top predators and the top down effect results in an increase of mesopredators (Gompper 2002). Medium sized predators are the greatest benefiters of edges, as they open a ne w source of food and prey and face lower predation. As an example, the populations of coyotes have replaced the grey wolf across most of the North American continent, spreading into human disturbed areas and maintaining some balance of mesopredators. Alter natively, a s mesopredator populations flourish, the lower trophic level populations are depleted. Fragmentation Habitat fragmentation is the division of what was previously a continuous span of native natural landscape. Remaining f ragments called island s or patches are isolated by roads or construction Due to the differences in the way species use their environments and the variety of resources they require, fragmentation does not affect all species the
16 same way. Moreover, the way land is separated af fects some taxa more than others (i e ., animals capable of flight are less impacted by roads than terrestrial animals) Table 4 presents results of several fragmentation studies. Table 4 : Fragmentation studies Arroyo Rodriguez et al. 2009 Patch size is not indicative of biodiversity ; small patches are valuable for maintaining plant diversity ; it is important to manage and conserve small patches as well. Corlatti et al 2009 Human barriers are a severe threat to naturally separated groups. F ragmentation may alter landscape connectivity; continued habitat fragmentation will fuel the ongoing global extinction. Ferraz et al. 2003 S maller fragments start with fewer species than larger ones and lose proportions of species faster than larger ones. Fleishman and Mac Nally 2007 Fragmentation is a large scale process and the magnitude of stressors is growing rapidly. Fragmentation is a better option than habitat loss, species that resp ond positively to edge / multiple habitats will benefit, it provides refuge from predators or allow coexistence between competitors. Gascon 1999 A substantial number of primary forest species are capable of using matrixes when large tracts with potential migrant populations are nearby, more disturbed sites had lower species richness. Matrices will act as a selective filter to what species flourish as habitat becomes sparser. Mammals and frogs were able to adapt to fragmentation better than birds and ants. Markovchick Nicholls 2007 Small patches are p ossible ecological traps leading to genetic stochasticity. Ewel and Meyer 1990 Fragmentation weakens ecosystem links, including: land, water and fire reliance. Vulnerable species end up in edges, which are es sentially transition states. The solution is to save larger units. Miller and Hobbs 2002 E xurban and rural development are affecting biodiversity in areas thought of as too
17 remote to attract much development attention. Soul 1991 in wildlife and ecosystem values is to minimize habitat fragmentation. Where urbanization is occurring, however, habitat fragmentation is 707 ) Watling and Donnelly 2006 Rate of s pecies loss and the distance separating patches are p ositively related. Yamaura 2008 Between large area patches and circle shaped patches, the larger ones had higher diversit y and greater edge effects due to larger area and more edge. Fragmentation separates habitat and resources, reducing the integrity of ecosystems therein. As species makeup of the area shifts, more disturbance tolerant or edge preferring species experience population growth as the resources available to them increase. Less tolerant species become sparser as predation increases and less cover or resources necessary to the species decrease. Gascon and others (1999) found that mammals and frogs adapted better to edges than birds and invertebrates. Species which are more edge tolerant tend to be generalist omnivorous mammals, predatory bird s, and invasive species. Favored species that thrive in the disturbed systems have been shown to depend on a matrix of habitats. Shifts in the populations living within an ecosystem result in trophic imbalance. The maintenance of native biodiversity in pa tches is dependent on the size of the patch and proximity of other intact patches (Watling and Donnelly 2006). The size of the patch inversely contributes to the rate of vertebrate species loss (Ferraz et al 2003) because larger interior area means less o f the system is destabilized through the edge effect. Arroyo Rodriguez and colleagues (2005) argue that multiple sizes and disturbance level patches should be preserved because plant diversity is not depend e nt on
18 the size of the patch. Threatened vertebrat es are those at risk by urbanization and fragmentation and therefore, larger patches serve a larger conservation purpose for vertebrates. Furthermore, many species inhabit smaller ranges in urban areas (Riley 2006), but small disturbed patches provide litt le protection from predators and few resources for cover and food sources. Species that are easy prey for exploiters such as mesopredators do not find refuge in small disturbed patches. Mesopredator population dynamics is usually controlled by larger preda tors which require larger territory ranges. The mesopredators then have a population explosion known as the mesopredator release ( Crooks and Soul 1999 ) The higher presence of mesopredators in fragmented habitats creates higher predation pressure on prey. Barriers Fragmentation often results in the creation of ma r tices or the juxtaposition of matrices, in which a variety of land covers border each other, including intense and traditional f arming, residential, industrial and natural areas (Fleishman and Mac Nally 2007). Such matrices have more intense effects on the native species than homogeneous matrices like those of that benefit from wider variet ies of land use (and thus wider ranges of prey) prosper in desakota while specialist species, which require specific landscapes and resources to thrive tend to flounder in the edges of desakotas. As habitats continue to become scarcer due to human induce d landscape changes, the matrices will act as selective filters (Gascon et al 1999) and determine which animals will be left according to the resource s and composition of the remain in g habitat and the
19 adaptability and tolerance levels of the animals. The success of animals using the matrices is skewed positively toward generalists. Overall native fauna success is increased when other patches of like use are nearby and accessible (Watling and Donnelly 2006). Maintaining the connectedness of landscapes may l essen the edge effect, as shown with wildlife corridors. The effects of roads are an excellent illustrator of the effects of fragmentation. Table 5 outlines some findings of road studies. Table 5 : Studies of roads effects Robbins 2008 "Roads are the larg est human artifact on the planet" -Dr. R. T. T. Forman. Corlatti et al 2008 Roads facilitate collisions, decrease reproductive success, cause disturbance and pollution, constrain movement and distribution, decrease colonization rate, increase extincti on rate, and change population density, biodiversity and prey availability. Roads are a cofactor for gene flow alteration. Cohn 2005 Skewed population dynamics have been found in turtles because females tend to cross more roads (and are collision victims ) than males; the gender dynamics created may lead to eventual population decline. Koenig et al. 2002 Road incidents may be frequent enough to endanger population viability of lizards in metropolitan areas in Australia. Riley 2006 Bobcats use paved roads as home range boundaries and are unwilling to cross them; they use dirt roads as trails. Markovchick Nicholls et al 2007 Cougars and grey foxes have significant negative association with increasing road intensity. T he disturbance created by barriers su ch as roads is a threat to reproductive success and gene flow, interspecies dynamics, ecosystem health, and biodiversity overall Roads pose two specific threats to wildlife: collisions and edge effects. P hysical separators of habitat such as roads are ma jor hurdles for some species (Cohn 2005; Riley 2006). Some species are common collision victims. Large predators (e.g.,
20 bobcats, bears) will rarely cross paved roads, which limit the possibilities of range and reproductive partners. Increases in road use d ecrease large predator presence (Chamberlain and Leopold 2005) When individuals cannot or will not cross human barriers, the prospects of reproductive partners are reduced, and the genetic integrity of the populations may be at stake over several generati ons. A large portion of Yellowstone is uninhabited by large predators (wolves) due to roads (Cohn 2005). The collision aspect of roads is significant to species presence and population size and viability. Reproduction dynamics have shown change due to a hi gh occurrence of collisio ns whereby the genetic material flow is physically hampered. Genetic homozygosity among isolated populations in both the Florida black bear and Eurasian badger is attributed to separation by barriers such as roads ( Corlatti et al 200 5; Pertoldi et al 2001 ) Reptile c ollisions may be often enough to affect population size (Koenig et al 2002 ) ; the same may be true about other orders Crossings A solution with largely positive results is wildlife crossing designed with fences and e ither over or underpasses. Ninety six percent of wildlife collisions were reduced in Banff, Canada ( Clevenger et al 2001 ) when wildlife crossings were added. In Florida, r educed mortality for both Key Deer (Parker et al 2005) and Florida Panthers (Land and Lotz 1996) with the addition of wildlife crossings was experienced In more urban areas, such as San Francisco Bay, both bobcats and coyotes have used underpasses near large highways and residences (Riley et al 2006b). Movement between patches increas es species retention. Stepping stones or corridors connecting natural areas in a matrix may decrease the species loss rate in the individual fragments due to migration of individuals
21 This is associated with higher ava ilability of resources or prey and an increase in possible habitat (Land and Lotz 1996 ; Pertoldi et al. 20 0 1 ) Such corridors provide positive benefits such as preventing collisions, genetic stochas t icity and increase resources to species at risk due to urbanization They should be installed as soon after fragmentation as possible (Watling and Donnelly 2006 ; Laiolo and Tella 2006 ). The compounding factors listed above lead to increase d pressure on the urban deterred rarer species, and together they serve as a major driving factor for rarity (Goodrich and Buskirk 1995 ) As this factor continues to increase, so does the need to conserve the rarer species, if we hope to maintain biodiversity. Figure 5 provides an excellent pictoral depiction of this effect.
22 Figure 5. Human influenced changes become a driving force. From Grimm et al. 2008. The image above shows how human influenced changes to an ecosystem become drivers to continuous changes over time. Such actions which fragment or destroy habitats and displace the animals living therein je opardize the stability of the ecosystem that remains. Addition of new animals, contaminants, and surfaces are accompanied with new disease and vectors (Rees and Wackernagel 1996). Each of the ecological changes associated with land use changes are instrum ental in endangering that which makes Southern Florida unique. Therefore, the environmental changes imposed by human activity are the greatest threat to the native biodiversity of S outhwest F lorida which is home to wintering migratory birds, endangered an d threatened species such as the F lorida panther (endangered) and gopher tortoise (threatened) and endemic species such as K ey deer (endangered) There is no other ecosystem of comparison in the world, but the continuation of anthropogenic changes at the current rate will result in the loss of many of these species. By comparison, disturbed habitats through most of Southwest Florida contrasted with Myakka, Big Cypress and the Everglades, shows just how strong ly human induced landscape changes in Southwest Florida and impact a variety of species. Further, t hough these three reserves are not developed, the effects of nearby human disruption still influences the m via edge effect and resource contamination (water quality degradation, high nitrogen additions) New approaches must be taken to protect more rare species than simply protecting tracts of isolated land as the Fish and Wildlife Research Ins t itution lays out in Technical Report TR 15 ( 2009 ) Though Myakka, Big Cypress and
23 Everglades protect large chun endangered biota of Florida ( Ewel and Meyer 1990). The effects of urbanization penetrate deep into the surrounding area, and cities such as Sarasota, Naples and Miami are all situated near to these reser ves.
24 Chapter Two Florida has a high diversity of wildlife at risk to urbanization and actions t o save the biodiversity are necessary. A possible way to help curb the effects of human based changes to the urban gradient and the alteration of spec ies composition may be the rehabilitation of injured wild animals in disturbed areas. Wildlife rehabilitation provides services to wild vertebrate populations of Southwest Florida. The extent and benefit of these services are unknown. Possible unintended s ervices such as disease vector spreading and competitor assistance limit the conservation benefits Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers provide to Southwest Florida (Deem et al. 2001) Wildlife Rehabilitation and the threats it poses are explored and defined to provide better understanding of its interactions with Florida wildlife Wildlife Rehabilitation The practice of wildlife rehabilitation is the coordinated set of actions in which animals that have been injured, orphaned, or are otherwise incapable of sur viving in the wild are captured, medically treated, and prepared for return to the wild when possible. Public views on wildlife have changed dramatically over the past century. In 1900 wildlife was viewed as a public resource with survival or economic valu e (Conover 2002); it is now considered to have a recreational and intrinsic value (Craven 1998). Because the way the public values wildlife has changed, so has the way they relate to wildlife. Public concern and sympathy for animals have grown since the 19 60s (Conover 2002) and now thousands of
25 international donation funded organizations exist to help save wildlife, some for conservation and some for individual animal health (as in the case of Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers). The goal of Wildlife Rehabi litation Centers is to provide medical treatment to wild animals and public services such as education (Miller 2000). Most wildlife rehabilitation centers are run by community members. These wildlife r ehabilitators are governed by state and federal regulat ions Wildlife rehabilitation associations such as the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) and the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (NWRA) provide guidance and training. The state awards federally recognized permits to the indi vidual wildlife rehabilitators. A code of ethics is published jointly by the IWRC and the NWRA. The federal and state laws dictating the capture, handling, release, transport, and euthanasia of thousands of species through the Endangered Species Act, Migra tory Bird Treaty Act, and state ordinances are important documents pertaining to rehabilitation and release of certain wild animals. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was enacted to protect threatened species and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed t o protect birds from hunters. The penalties described within these laws are dependent on the conservation status of the species. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) states that for handling and transporting endangered and threatened species permits must be ac quired. These permits are distributed through individual state Fish and Wildlife Services (in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC)). For permit application the subject must provide documentation of at least 1000 hours
26 of e xperience in wildlife rehabilitation settings or pass an exam testing proficiency of animal handling and basic wildlife treatment. A referral letter from a permitted rehabilitator is also required (Florida Code 68A 9.006 ) If the center is open to the publ ic additional provisions must be secured for animal display. Conservation status Table 6 outlines the definitions of the classifications issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee (FFWCC), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The process of status designation is different for each organization which classifies species. The (IUCN) has a series of parameters within which each species is logarithmically an alyzed for threats including habitat, population sizes, and imminent threats. The federal status (maintained by the USFWS) is determined th r ough measures outlined in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 ( 7 U S. C § 136 16 U.S.C. § 1531 ). Wildlife Rehabilitation: Threa t to wildlife Wildlife rehabilitation is not a progressive grassroots cure all to the detrimental effect of urbanization on native biodiversity because it offers a variety of threats of its own to native populations. The functional consequences of the acti ons of Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers, not their intention s are the main threat. Potential damage to ecosystems is posed by introduction of novel disease, increase of exploiter populations and habituation to humans are some of the negative effects induc ed by wildlife rehabilitation services.
27 Table 6 Classification System s for species of conservation concern: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Least Concern Listing Of Concern (in order of incr easing priority) United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Act N/A Candidate: may be listed as endangered or threatened, but are kept off the Endangered Species Act due to higher priority listings. Threatened: likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Endangered: species is in danger of extinction through all or a significant portion of its range. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission N/A Species of Spe cial Concern: species that are vulnerable and may becom e a threatened species without protective or management; may already meet certain criteria for designation as a threatened species but conclusive data are limited or lacking; may be a keystone species without other species would be adversely affected to a significant degree; has not sufficiently recovered from past population depletion. Threatened: likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. Endangered: species is in danger of extinction through all or a significant portion of its range. I nternational Union for the Conservation of Nature LEAST CONCERN (LC) A taxon which does not qualify for other designations. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category. NEAR THREATENED (NT) A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evalua ted against the criteria but does not qualify for other classifications but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future. VULNERABLE (VU) A taxon is Vulnerable when it is considered to be facing a high r isk of extinction in the wild. ENDANGERED (EN) A taxon is Endangered when it is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR) A taxon is Critically Endangered when it is considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Table 6. The classification systems are based on different data, but the categorization of at risk species is important for all three organizations.
28 Novel d isease Novel diseases are a threat to s usc eptible wild populations if previously unexposed. The novel disease can be acquired a variety of ways, depending on the disease. Some are spread by arth r opod vector s such as ticks or fleas, others may be through air, saliva, fecal, or blood borne vectors. Table 7 outlines some recent studies which found diseases to be spread via rehabilitation centers. Table 7 Studies find diseases to be spread through Wildlife Reh abilitation Centers Authors, date Animals Disease Tnia de Freitas Raso et al. 2004 Blue fronted Amazon parrots (A mazona aestiv a) Chlamydiosis Goldstein et al. 2004 Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) Herpesvirus 1 Kelly and Sleeman 2003 Red Fox ( Vul pes vulpe s) and Grey Fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteu s) Canine Distemper and Toxoplasmosis The release of disease through individuals treated in rehabilitation centers risks population devastation (Deem et al 2001). Though the hygiene procedures are designe d to limit the rete ntion and propagation of disease the effectiveness of hospital sanitation is compromised by the rise of treatment resistant microbes (Ger h t 2005) The i ncubation and spread of novel disease by individuals treated by wildlife rehabilitat ion center s are possible and probable; the potential effect is not only dangerous to animal populations but also public health through other vectors or the mutation of the disease to new species (Franklin et al 2007)
29 Of the center databases statistically analyzed by Trocini and others ( 2008 ), 43.5% of all infectious diseases listed were considered secondary causes of death. Whether these diseases are novel to the organisms or not, the fact that they are present in the rehabilitation centers indicates a po ssible route of infection for other individuals. Lack of medical equipment, expertise, and manpower often prevent thorough screening and necropsies, so the exact cause of death is often not known. Additionally, some centers (including two of the three surv eyed) do not have the organization or manpower to keep detailed databases regarding causes of death or reason for intake. Many records are kept in paper form, filed away in boxes and never analyzed. Furthermore, many of the centers are not able to determin e cause of death because of lack of individual history and cause of injury. There may be several underlying conditions in the individuals which die in these centers, some of which may be infectious disease which pose threats to other species treated by the center. Exploiters The abundance of exploiters in and near urban areas results in high treatment levels of such animals at Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. The area serviced by the wildlife rehabilitation centers may be influential on this representation Because exploiter presence is significantly higher in urbanized areas than normal wild species, Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers located in urban areas will probably treat more exploiters I n fact, the types of animals received by Wildlife R e habili t ation Centers are often skewed by five factors: 1. public perceptions or sentiments 2. species that live around or within urban, suburban areas are more commonly admitted, 3. anthropogenic inju r i es are likely to be
30 overestimated, 4. most natural deaths of wild animals remain undetected, injuries causing rapid death will generally not be include d in the sample (Trocini et al. 2008 ) Animals that are endangered in Florida are likely to be in this category primarily due to urbanization because they do not like t o live in cities (Forrester 1992) On the other hand, e xploiters are abundant in Southwest Florida and most of the United States because treating them for injuries and releasing reproductive age individuals may support exploiter population increase s Thoug h some animals are captured, neutered and released through TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) programs, these are largely seen only in management of feral domestic cat colonies (Erns t 2010). Ex ploiters are a known threat to rarer species including birds (Goodrich and Buskirk 1995) because they crowd out and prey upon a variety of species. Monk parakeets are an excellent example. Native to South America, they are found in large populations in Florida, California, and New York, where they crowd out other avian spec ies (Usher 2008). The propagation of exploiter populations by wildlife rehabilitation centers provides a direct threat to conservation status species. The conservational value provided by Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers is questionable when treatment of ur ban exploiters is higher than treatment of rare native species. Negative human a nimal i nteractions Habituated animal s, animals accustomed to human interaction, are a problem in urban areas. Habituation is a process that can occur in any situation where a w ild animal is in direct contact with humans. It is a problem in rehabilitation as humans must interact with the animals daily for treatment and maintenance such as food, water, and clean enclosures. Wild animals may become accustomed to human animal intera ctions while at
31 wildlife rehabilitation centers. Some species are more likely to habituate than others (e.g. deer ; Peterson et al. 2005). Juveniles and orphaned young are especially likely to specifics ( Deem et al 2001) whi ch can lead to failed release, failed wild survival (because of improper predator prey relations or inability to procure food), and failed reproduction. P otentially dangerous animals such as coyotes bobcats, alligators, and other large predators may assoc iate humans with food. When humans are considered as a food source by predators, the risk of animal human attack increases (Conover 2002) Released habituated animals may approach humans or be found in close proximity to highly disturbed areas Wildlife re habilitation centers may impair the ability for released animals to display unhealthy behaviors. Biodiversity Solution The current decline of native biodiversity in South Florida is rapid and dangerous. Wildlife rehabilitation is a possible way of slowin g the loss of native individuals due to direct and indirect human inf luenced mortality, but it poses threats as well. For conservation purposes, only reproductively capable individuals from conservation directed species should be treated and released from Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. Supporting the growth of flourishing urban species which are predatory on the conservation status species is counterproductive for conservation mission s that aim to increase or maintain the populations at risk due to land d evelopment and the urban gradient Centers are already present and operating in many urbanized areas in Florida, but the author finds that current the operation s do not provide conservation value to the rare animal populations. These rare animals are not p resent in the urban and disturbed environments where the centers are located and are thereby rarely treated.
32 The author finds t he use of wildlife rehabilitation to rescue animals that have been injured due to direct human action, nursing them back to heal th, then releasing them with the hope they are reproductively successful does not address the biodiversity endangerment issue facing the ecological c ommunity of southwest Florida. Wildlife rehabilitation does not have the intention of biodiversity conserva tion Any possibilities of wildlife rehabilitation to provide direct conservation value is limited due to the disconnect between intention and execution, illustrated by introductions of novel disease, species imbalance propagation, and habituation to human s all dangerous to the fragile wild populations already at risk (Sleeman and Clark 2003 ) In a general way, the major conservation value of wildlife rehabilitation centers is the educational services they offer to communities. Wildlife rehabilitation is n ot an effective solution to the quandary of human wildlife encounter casualties. It does not always assist the animals most at risk of extinction or expatriation due to direct human contact The following is analyzed to support this hypothesis: (1) the num ber of species of concern received and released by three individual centers and (2) aid given to competitors and predators such as urban exploiters that are abundant in the urban and surrounding environments.
33 Chapter Three In the present study I analyze d the intake databases of selected wildlife rehabilitation centers to quantify species treated ; these centers serve as examples of services typically provided to the species therein The intake and release of species classified as conservational status were compared to the intake and release of the most commonly treated species. This chapter consists of two sections: Center description and comparison and data presentation. Methods: I contacted several Southwest Florida wildlife rehabilitation centers and re quested information. I interviewed the main rehabilitator s and was permitted to analyze Only a few centers participated in this study but they represent an interesting cross section of wildlife rehabilitation cente rs in Southwest Florida. As specified in the Institutional Review Board protocol (see Appendix 1), identities of the centers are coded as Center One, Center Two, and Center Three. The centers were analyzed for comparison so any aberrations regarding spec ies and success rates could be identified and examined. All centers in the study hold current Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission permits. Each center was described based on location, climate, facilities, size, and personnel. Location was c onsidered for insight into local natural and manmade structures and features, road traffic and types of roads, and associated land use in the proximal area. Structures and land use dictate which animals are likely to reside nearby the wildlife rehabilitati on center. Facilities and land area may influence success rates for rehabilitation and habituation, and personnel qualifications and number may affect
34 overall successes. Finally, analysis of the habitat types in the area serviced by each center provides in sight in to the types of animals living in that region and frequency of human animal conflicts. The data provided by each center specified the species and number of animals upon intake and the final disposition of each individual. These data are categorize d by species richness, frequency of occurrence and release rates. These analyses were used to determine the conservation value of the wildlife rehabilitation centers of Southwest Florida. or equivalent) were priorities. Opinions pertaining to sustainability and human services provided by the wildlife rehabilitation center were requested. The survey is a ttached in Appendix 1. Center Analysis Center One Center One is a small wildlife rehabilitation center located on a bird sanctuary island. Operating within the limits of a small city (population of 1500 people) the center is enclosed by G ulf waters on one side and an intercoastal area and inlet bay on the other. The average annual temperature on location is 24C, with an average low of 10.5C in winter a nd an average high of 32C in summer; approximate elevation is 0.8 m above sea level. The center has bee n in a residential area for 20 years. The area it occupies is approximately 465m 2 Light to moderate traffic from small passenger vehicles pass on
35 proximal streets and boat traffic near the center consists of slow moving small vessels due to the no wake zo ne The center is isolated from the city noise by thick layers of vegetation. The facilities include outdoor and indoor cells for birds of prey, songbirds, and a variety of small to medium mammals. The area the center services is 3340 km 2 and spans three co unties. The habitat in the range consists of flatwoods, agricultural use (mainly cattle), mangroves, marshes, barrier islands, and city and suburban areas. The majority of the range is fragmented by development. Twenty volunteers are regularly involved wit h the center, five of which have moderate veterinary experience and two of which have moderate or higher animal behavior experience. The center is run and managed by two professional permitted wildlife rehabilitators, who hold vet tech certifications, IWR C certifications, tranquilizer certifications and euthanization certifications. The center treats about 1500 individuals a year, most of which (about two thirds) are migratory birds. Center Two Center Two is located in a primarily rural area removed six m iles from the shoreline. The center rests on 60690 m 2 of secluded land near fairly isolated roads with low traffic levels. The property provides a small pond, hospital, a series of flight runs, and numerous long, sheltered, outdoor medium sized kennels for all types of animals. The facilities are currently under going construction and expansion. The average annual temperature is 11C in January and 32C in July, and the predominant type s of habitats are flatwoods and scrub land swamp. The area serviced by t he location covers nearly two counties, approximately 2380 km 2 The neighborhood nearby is agricultural and undeveloped swampland, zoned residential estate and a large interstate highway nearby The center
36 has been in operation for six years and has 80 reg ular volunteers, four of which have moderate or higher experience in veterinary medicine, and 25 of which have moderate levels of animal behavior experience. The director has had 12 years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation and holds IWRC certificatio n. The center treats over 1100 animals a year. Center Three Center Three is located in the city limits of a large city, near an interstate highway and heavily trafficked city streets A regional airport is nearby. The area around the center is developed a s both single family housing and commercial interests. The center is located on 84966 m 2 near the center of th e city. The center has estuary front property which is connected to a large Gulf bay. Facilities at the center include a hospital, low habituation holding cages, and a variety of enclosures for animals. Average temperatures range from 10C to 33C. The area serviced by Center Three is 3973 km 2 mainly made up of swamp and barrier island habitat. The center has 4 full time employees, 4 interns, and ab out 50 volunteers for the wildlife medical and rehabilitation programs. Of the employees 3 have extensive to moderate experience in veterinary medicine, and another 3 have extensive to moderate experience in animal behavior. Every employee at the center h as one of the following: B achelor of A rts or Bachelor of Science in biology or zoology, extensive animal experience, and/or NWRA or IWRC training. The director of wildlife medicine and rehabilitation has di rected the center for 10 years, and the center has been operating for 31 years.
37 Table 8 Center c omparison chart Cente r Land Area of facilit y (m 2 ) Facilities Populatio n Density (people / km 2 ) Nearby Character istics Average Number of Volunteer s Certifi cations of Employees/ Directors Area Service d (km 2 ) Duratio n of Oper ation (years) One 465 hospital, kitchen, indoor housing, outdoor flights. 558 Intercoasta l waters, Gulf Waters. Located on island, some lightly used roads nearby. 20 v et tech, IWRC, tranquilizer, euthanizatio n 3340 20 Two 60690 hospital, kitchen, indoor cages, mu ltiple (>12) outdoor flights, raccoon barracks, lake, with many isolated structures under construction >250 T raditional agriculture interstate highway, nature preserve 80 vet tech, IWRC, tranquilizer, euthanizatio n 2380 6 Three 84966 hospital, mul tiple (>12) outdoor contain ments and or flights, secluded flights / cages, wading pool, learning center, museum. 698 C ity scape, gulf waters large preserves nearby, regional airport very close. 55 BA/BS in biology or zoology, animal experience, NWRA or IWRC training 3973 31
38 Comparison of centers T he three centers are a cross section of the wildlife rehabilitation centers present in South West Florida small, medium, and large, and have been open different spans of years. Table 8 provides a v isual model for comparison between each center. The selection of centers provides insight to the wildlife rehabilitator centers across Southwest Florida and results are therefore applicable conclusions for most centers in the region. Furthermore, despite h undreds of miles separating the centers, the habitats serviced by Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers are very similar. Table 9 illustrates the accessibility of the habitat to each center. Table 9 Ecosystems accessibility by c enter Center E cosystem Serviced Location and Abundance of Ecosystem from center. One Pine Flatwoods and Dry Prairies Near and abundant Freshwater Marshes Some near, not common Salt Marsh Near and limited Dunes and Maritime Forests Near and limited Two Pine Flatw oods and Dry Prairies Near and abundant Freshwater Marsh Some near, rare Salt Marsh Near and limited Dunes and Maritime Forests Near and limited Three Pine Flatwoods and Dry Prairies Near and abundant Freshwater Marshes Distant and abundant Salt marshes Near and limited Dunes and Maritime Forests Near and limited All centers service the same types of ecosystems, but the distribution of each type of ecosystem varies by location, so each ecosystem type is treated differently by each center. All three service a large amount of flatwoods and prairies and equal amounts of
39 salt marsh. All of the centers service a large amount of freshwater marsh habitat, but Center Thre e's marsh habitats are very remote from the center and population dense area. C e nters One and Two freshwater marsh habitat s serviced are more isolated, nearer to dense populations and the centers. Center Three service s more mangrove and swamp than centers one and two. Center Three's services are primarily in the swamps and may be limi ted in the large reserve nearby due to the limited human wildlife interface there. The species common in each habitat vary depending on the resources each ecosystem provides. Appendix 3 presents information on which species, common and rare, are usually f ound in each habitat. Results The data provided by the centers were analyzed in two fashions. First, the most common animals seen and released by each center; then the comparison of these common animal numbers to the conservation status animal numbers. ( S ee appendix 3 for a list of endangered species found in Florida ) The data collected from the centers are organized in two fashions. First, the common animals from each order are listed by center. Next, the animals holding conservation status are listed pe r order by center. Avian Table 10 shows the ten most common birds and percentage seen at each center from 2005 2009.
40 Table 10 Ten Most Common Birds Seen Per Center in Decreasing Order (2005 2009) Center One Center Two Center Three Brown Pelican ( Pelecanus occidentalis ) Brown Pelican 1 ( Pelecanus occidentalis ) Mourning Dove ( Zenaida macroura) Mourning Dove ( Zenaida macroura) Mourning Dove ( Zenaida macroura) Brown Pelican 1 ( Pelecanus occidentalis ) Laughing Gull ( Leucophaeus atricilla) Northern Mockingbird ( Mimus polyglottos) Northern Mockingbird ( Mimus polyglottos) Northern Mockingbird ( Mimus polyglottos) Laughing Gull ( Leucophaeus atricilla) Laughing Gull ( Leucophaeus atricilla) Great Blue Heron ( Ardea Herodias) Great Blue Heron ( Ardea Herodias) Common Grackle ( Quiscalus quiscula ) Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta cristata ) Eastern Screech Owl ( Megascops asio ) Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta cristata ) Eastern Screech Owl ( Megascops asio ) Blue Jay ( Cyanocitta cristata ) Double crested Cor morant ( Phalacrocorax auritus ) Common Grackle ( Quiscalus quiscula ) Sandhill Crane 1 1 ( Grus canadensis ) Eastern Screech Owl ( Megascops asio ) Red Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) Double crested Cormorant ( Pha lacrocorax auritus ) Red bellied Woodpecker ( Melanerpes carolinus) Northern Gannet ( Morus bassanus) Northern Gannet ( Morus bassanus) Royal Tern ( Thalasseus maximus) Mammalian Midsized mamma ls have been found to adapt well in urban environments, especially generalist mesopredators. Comparison of the mammals found in Center One and C enter T hree are below; Center Two did not provide mammalian data and is excluded. The mammalian data are provide d in Table 11. 1 The local subspecies of the Sandhill Crane, The F lorida Sandhill Crane, is a threatened Species.
41 Table 11 Top Ten Most Common Mammalian Species for Centers One and Three in decreasing order (2005 2009) Center One Center Three Virginia Opossum ( Didelphis virginiana ) Virginia Opossum ( Didelphis virginiana ) Eastern Gray Squirrel ( S ciurus carolinensis ) Eastern Cottontail ( Sylvilagus floridanus ) Eastern Cottontail ( Sylvilagus floridanus ) Eastern Gray Squirrel ( Sciurus carolinensis ) Raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) Raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) Southern Flying Squirrel ( Glaucomys volans ) Nin e banded Armadillo ( Dasypus novemcinctus ) Mexican Free tailed Bat ( Tadarida brasiliensis) Big Brown Bat ( Eptesicus fuscus ) Nine banded Armadillo ( Dasypus novemcinctus ) White tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus) Eastern Fox Squirrel ( Sciurus niger ) Evening Bats (family Vespertilionidae) Coyote ( Canis latrans ) Marsh Rabbit ( Sylvilagus palustris ) Northern Yellow Bat ( Lasiurus intermedius ) Mexican Free tailed bat ( Tadarida brasiliensis) Reptilian Only Center Three provided reptilian data. Table 1 2 shows the top ten most common reptiles. Table 12 Ten most common Reptiles to Center Three (2005 2009) Gopher tortoise 2 ( Gopherus polyphemus) Florida soft shell turtle ( Apalone ferox ) American red bellied turtle 3 ( Pseudemys rubriventris ) Flori da cooter (Pseudemys floridana) Red rat snake / Corn Snake ( Elaphe guttata ) Striped mud turtle 3 ( Kinosternon baurii) 2 Species of special status
42 Alligator snapping turtle 3 ( Macrochelys temminckii ) Florida brown snake (Storeria dekayi victa) Black racer ( Coluber constrictor) Flor ida chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia chrysea) Though only one center provided reptile information, there are still inferences that can be made. Four of the ten common reptiles have conservation status, which indicates that yes, they are present in the area serviced by Center Three, and that they are reported fairly regularly. Endangered Species at Intake to Centers Tables 1 3 1 4 and 1 5 describe the presence and abundance of the conservation listed birds, mammals, and reptile status by organization percent intake, and percent release per center.
43 Table 1 3 E ndangered Ave s : Conservation Status, Ave Intake Rank, Ave Intake Percent, Release Percent per species per Wildlife Center Conservation Listing Rehabilitation Center Species Center One Center Two Center Three FWS FFWC C IUCN Rank Intake Percent Release Percent Rank Intake Percent Release Percent Rank Intake Percent Release Percent Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) T T LC (2009) #33 0.13% 0% #37 0.35% 44% #39 0.35% 50.80% Black Skimmer ( Rynchops niger ) SSC LC (2009) #33 0.13% 33% #51 0.02% 0% #46 2.64% 27.66% Brown Pelican ( Pelecanus occidentalis ) SSC LC (2009) #1 18.73% 77% #1 12.24% 74% #2 10.78% 53.4% Crested Caracara Polyborus plancus audubonii // Caracara cheriway ? ) T T LC (2009) ------#82 0.0005% 0% Everglades Snail Kite ( Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus ) E E LC (2009) ------#82 0.0005% 0% Florida Grasshopper Sparrow ( Ammodramus savannarum floridanus ) E E LC (2009) ------#83 0.11% 0% Florida Sandhill Crane ( Grus Canadensis ) T LC (2009) #21 0.72% 18% #8 2.65% 47% #79 0.03% 0% Florida Scrub Jay ( Aphelocoma coerulescens ) T T V (2008) ---#49 0.06% 0% ---Least Tern ( Sterna antillarum ) T LC (2009) #32 0.17% 50% #47 0.10% 20% #40 0.33% 45.76% Limpkin( Aramus guarauna ) SSC LC (20 09) ---#50 0.03% 0% #77 0.04% 28.57% Little Blue Heron ( Egretta caerulea) SSC LC (2009) #30 0.25% 67% #47 0.10% 20% #57 0.16% 21.43% Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus ) SSC LC (2009) #18 0.89% 52% #18 1.51% 46% #14 1.35% 34.58% Roseate Spoonbill ( Platale a ajaja ) SSC LC (2009) #33 0.13% 0% #51 0.02% 0% #82 0.0005% 0% SE American Kestral ( Falco sparverius ) T LC (2009) ---#47 0.10% 20% ---Snowy Egret ( Egretta thula ) SSC LC (2009) #32 0.17% 25% #28 0.81% 24% #38 0.37% 27.27% Snowy Plover ( Ch aradrius alexandrines ) T LC (2009) ------#82 0.0005% 0% Tricolored Heron ( Egretta tricolor ) SSC LC (2009) ------#63 0.12% 13.67% White Ibis ( Eudocimus albus ) SSC LC (2009) #28 0.34% 25% #35 0.43% 23% #37 0.39% 27.14% Woodsto rk ( Mycteria armericana ) E E LC (2009) #29 0.30% 14% #30 0.62% 35% #55 0.18% 9.4% Sum E Ave Percent / Average Release Rate 22.85% 32.08% 21.51% 24.40% 18.46% 20.07% Averages for all Centers Average Endangered Ave Intake: 21.90% Average Endan gered Ave Release Rate: 25.51%
44 Abbreviation s: NL, Not Listed, T, Threatened, LC, Least Concern, E, Endangered. Table 14 Endangered Mammal Listing, Mammal Intake Rank, Mammal Intake Percent, Release Percent per Wildlife Center. Conservation Listing Rehabilitation Center Species Center One Center Three FWS FFWC IUCN Rank Intake Percent Release Percent Ra nk Intake Percent Release Percent Florida Black Bear ( Ursus Americanus ) NL (1998 /2004) T LC (2008) ---#2 1 0.33% 40% Rice Rat ( Oryzomys argentatus ) E (1991 /2007) E LC (2008) ---#26 0.04% 0% Total/ Sum ---0.37% 20%
45 Abbreviatio ns: NT, Not threatened, SSC, Species of Special Concern, T, Threatened, E, Endangered NL, Not Listed, LC, Least Conce rn, NT, Near Threatened, V, Vulnerable, CE, Critically Endangered Table 1 5 Reptiles of Concern Intake, Reptile Intake Rank, Percent Rank, and Percent Release Species Conservation Listing Rehabilitation Center FWS FFWC IUCN Center Three Rank Percent of Reptile Intake Release Percent Gopher Tortoise ( Gophe rus polyphemus ) T/ Under Review (1987/2010) T V (1996) #1 22.4% 61% ( Lepidochelys kempii ) E E CE (1996) #21 0.06% 0% Eastern Indigo Snake ( Drymarchon couperi ) T (2006) T LC (2007) #1 8 0.25% 75% Alligator Snapping Turtle ( Macroc helys temminckii ) NL NL V (1996) #8 3.10% 59.18% Diamondback Terrapin ( Malaclemys terrapin ) NL NL NT (1996) #15 0.51% 87.50% Yellow bellied Slider ( Trachemys scripta ) NL NL NT (1996) #15 0.51% 50% Loggerhead Sea Turtle ( Caretta caretta ) T /Under Review (1978/2010) T E (1996) #13 1.14% 77.78% Ornate Box Turtle ( Terrapene ornata ) NL NL NT (1996) #13 1.14% 83.33% Eastern Box Turtle and subspecies ( Terrapene carolina, Terrapene Carolina bauri ) NL NL NT (1996) #4 11.56% 73.78% American Red Bellied Turtle ( Pseudemys rubriventris ) (Subspecies is E, but full species is NL) NL NT (1996) #2 18.07% 45.45% Red Rat Snake ( Elaphe guttata) SSC SSC NL #10 2.34% 40.5% Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii) E E NL #6 3.54% 69.6% Suwannee Cooter SSC SSC NT (1996) # 20 0.19% 33% American Alligator T SSC LC (1996) #12 1.77% 60.7% Sum of E Reptile Intake / Average Release Rate 66.58% 58%
46 Chapter Four The analysis of the data provided by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers provides insight to the conservation services they do provide. Implications and discussion of the data may expla in high or low values and possibilities for conservation initiatives. The discussion also includes some insights pointed out by the Wildlife Directors in the interview portion of the survey. Discussion of Data The analysis of the data offers information i n differences between the Centers by location and species abundance. Aves A ll of the four most common birds between the centers are the same, (Brown Pelican, Mourning Dove, Mockingbird, Laughin g Gull). Other common birds between the centers are the blue jay and the eastern screech owl. Immediate location and population density near the center may be responsible for the differences in the common birds reported Table 16 compares the types of birds found at each center. Table 16 Common bird type by center Type of Animal Center One Two Three Waterbird 3 4 4 Wading bird 1 1 0 Passerine 4 3 5 Bird of prey 2 1 1 Crane 0 1 0
47 Center One Center One personnel saw three water birds, one wading species, two birds of prey, and four passerines known to thrive i n urban environments (the northern mockingbird, blue jay, grackle and mourning dove). The shared birds imply a connection in habitat serviced. Center One shared two species exclusively with Center Two, one water bird and one wading bird (northern gannet, g reat blue heron) and one urban passerine exclusively with Center Three (common grackle). Center One had one unique species in the top ten the red shouldered hawk. This bird of prey is most affected by loss of habitat and may have been common for Center O ne due to the high fragmentation in the area serviced or the presence of habitat and thereby of populations. Center Two Center Two had more birds in common with Center One than with Center Three and the species and role makeup were comparable (Table 16 ). Despite being located six miles inland, the two species it shared exclusively with Center One were waterbirds, one of which is a seabird (northern gannet). The bird shared exclusively with Center Three was also a waterbird, the double crested cormorant. Th e high presence of seabirds treated at Center Two is demonstrative of the avian communities of Southwest Florida even when removed from the coast. This abundance may also be influenced by a wetland preserve nearby. Three of the species were common urban ex ploiting passerines, indicating high Sandhill Crane. This species is found in abundance on golf courses, which are common near the center.
48 Center Three Located in a v ery urban setting, four of the most common birds at Center Three were urban passerines, and four of the ten birds were water birds. Center woodpecker (found in pine flatwoods wh ich are abundant near the center). All centers Only two of the ten common aves treated by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers were listed as species of concern: the brown pelican and the sandhill crane. These two species are clearly present in the region serviced by the wildlife rehabilitation centers. Table 17 illustrates the conservation status for these species as defined per organization. Table 17 Listing of common conservation status birds and reasons for listing. USFWS FFWCC IUCN Brown Pelican Pe lecanus occidentalis, found at all centers (ranked #1 and #2 most common). Management concern Species of Special Concern Least Concern Sandhill Crane Grus c anadensis, found at Center Two only, ranked #8 most common bird. Not Listed The Florida subspecies is listed as Threatened. Least Concern; the subspecies is not listed. The brown pelican is a species of special of concern in Florida, but Fish and Wildlife Service considers it a management concern, meaning it does not have an official listing
49 but it is a species of interest for the service. The Brown Pelican was previously listed as Endangered due to DDT pollution, but the ban of DDT and environmental clean up has revitalized the species (Dolbeer 2006) The sandhill crane species is not listed by the USF WS or IUCN but the subspecies floridania is Threatened according to the FFWCC. There is no way of determining whether the animals treated by the centers were the general species or the Florida subspecies. The Wood stork had the highest of occurrence rates for FWS labeled endangered birds among the centers, but it is considered of Least Concern by the IUCN Center Two offered the highest release rate of the stork (35%), and the average release rate was 19.5% The Grasshopper Sparrow is labeled E ndangered by the FWS and Least Concern by the IUCN but faces a 0% release rate (only treated by Center Three). Alternatively, the Florida Scrub Jay, listed as Threatened by FWS, is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN and has been since it was first surveyed in 2000. It was only treated by Center Two and had a release rate of 0% The population has a very specific and limited range to scrub flatwoods found in Florida (Ewel and Meyer 1990) much of which has been removed due to development The Bald Eagle, recently reevalu ated as T hreatened and removed from the E ndangered list had high release rates (>40%) by both Centers Two and Three and an average release rate from all centers of 31.6%. The Least Tern had high release rates by Centers One and Three and an average releas e rate of 38.58%. The Osprey had high release rates by Centers One and Two and a high average release rate of 44.2%. The Little Blue Heron had a high release rate by Center One (67%) and an average release rate of 36.14%. Of these species, however, only t wo held a threatened or higher status by either the FWS of the FFWCC, and all were considered Least Concern by the IUCN.
50 The species considered most threatened by these organizations which were treated (the Everglades Snail Kite [Endangered by USFWS and FF WCC], Florida Grasshopper Sparrow [Endangered by USFWS and FFWCC], Florida Scrubjay [Threatened by USFWS and FFWCC, Vulnerable by IUCN], and Woodstork [Endangered by USFWS]) experienced low release rates. All but the woodstork experienced 0% release rates. Some avian species considered at risk are encountered often in the rehabilitation centers; the brown pelican is the prime example with an average release rate of 68.13%. Centers One and Two both had release rates over 70% for the brown pelican. The Sandh ill Crane had a high release rate from Center Three (47%), where it was the eighth most common bird, but low release rates (and abundance) for Centers One and Three. The overall release average of all avian species at risk in all Centers is 25.52%. Mammals Table 18 Type of common mammal per center Type Center One Center Three Generalist Omnivorous Exploiter 2 2 Rodent 4 3 Bat 2 3 Insectivore 1 1 Large Predator 1 0 Herbivorous Cervidae (deer) 0 1 Six species are common between Centers On e and Three, including the top four for each. Number one most common mammal for both centers is the Virginia opossum, the only animal Markovchick Nicholls and colleagues (2007) found to increase in presence as human disturbance levels rose. The raccoon is also an exploitive mesopredator, rated at #4 for both centers. Table 18 shows the types of animals which were common. The nine banded armadillo only expanded its range in the past century. It may be found in
51 urban areas due to invertebrate increase associa ted with fragmentation (Forys and Allen 2005) Number nine from Center One, the coyote also recently expanded its range and may be partially responsible for the lower occurrence of generalist mesopredators treated by Center One via predation on the populat ions. In contrast, the total number of generalist mesopredators, rodents and white tailed deer treated at Center Three is higher; these are all common prey for larger predators such as the coyote. Additionally, Center Three is located in a larger municipal area, and thereby more fragmented and affected than the area near Center One. Though a subspecies of the marsh rabbit is endangered (the Lower Keys marsh rabbit), it is not found in the region serviced by these centers and no mammals in the top ten most c ommon list are listed with conservation status. None of the ten most common mammals for Centers One and Three held special status. Only Center Three treated listed mammalian S pecies of Concern. It treated two Species of C oncern, the rice rat and the Flori da black bear. An average of 20% was released; 40% for the black bear and 0% for the rice rat. The total intake of S pecies of Concern of all mammalian species for Center Three is 0.37%; the to tal mammalian intake is 32.55 % of all species, meaning all inta ke consists of 0.12 % C oncern mammals. A possible reason for this low percentage is the majority of the endangered mammals listed by the federal and state governments are very small and skittish (rodents: rats, mice, rabbits), or very large predators sever ely impacted by edge effects (black bear, panther). It is difficult to discover and treat these animals when they become injured. Alternatively, these animals may be very sparse in the habitats and areas serviced by the Centers surveyed. Reptiles
52 The rep tiles accepted by Center Three were listed in Table 1 2 Differentiation by types of reptiles accepted by Center Three is given in Table 19 Table 1 9 Common reptiles by type at Center Three Type Center Three Tortoise 1 Turtle 6 Snake 3 Tortoises, whi ch are land based, are the lowest repetitive type of reptile in the top ten, whereas the turtle is the most common. This is likely because of the river delta and Gulf coast area Center Three services. Snakes make up about one third of the common reptiles. Of the reptiles reported one was a snapping turtle (alligator snapping turtle), two were terrestrial snakes and one was a water snake. Shine and colleagues (2001) theorized that most reptiles reported to Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers may be due to fear r ather than injury. IUCN Red List desc ribes the Gopher Tortoise as a V ulnerable species, which places it as the third rank of T hreatened species, though the status needs updating (last analyzed in 1996). It is under review by the USFWS but was last conside red Threatened (USFWS 2010) The Eastern Indigo Snake was reviewed as Least Concern in 2007 by the IUCN due to the habitat range and several subspecies, though population status is decreasing and overall population viability is questionable. When previousl y analyzed in 1994, the species was listed a s V ulnerable. The Eastern Indigo is found in areas that gopher tortoise burrows are found, and both face habitat loss as a major threat (IUCN Redlist 2010) Most of the turtles had a high release rate: alligator snapping turtle (75%), diamondback terrapin (87.5%), yellow bellied slider (50%), ornate box turtle (83.33%), eastern box turtle (73.78%), striped mud turtle (69.6%) and American red bellied turtle
53 (45.45%). The Suwannee C ooter had the lowest non sea turt le release rate (33%). For sea respectively. The American alligator had a 60.7% release rate. Compared to the release rates for conservation status aves and mammals, the release rates for conservation status reptiles are very high; the fact that conservation status reptiles make up four of the ten most common reptiles seen by Center Three indicates high conservation species presence in the area near Center Three. Discuss ion Avian Most common birds treated by Centers were passerine or water birds, likely due to the locations of the centers. Of the birds with conservation status, the birds with high release rates (>40%) were water birds (brown pelican, least tern, little bl ue heron), birds of prey (bald eagle, osprey) and a crane (Sandhill (Center Two only)). The fewer released listed birds (<20% ) were the Sandhill Crane (for Centers One and Three), the Southeastern American Kest re l and the Woodstork (though Center Two had a release rate of 35%). This could be for a variety of reasons. The birds may be few in numbers (such as the woodstork ; 0.3% and 0.18% of bird intake for Centers One and Three Sandhill Crane (0.72% and 0.03% for Center Three) and Southeastern American Kes tre l (0.10% for Center Two) or they may not be present in the areas serviced by the centers. These endangered birds may be less visible or abundant, or difficult to capture, or may only be captured near death. Comparisons of intake reasons may reveal pat terns here. The wildlife rehabilitation centers studied provide services for a handful of threatened birds,
54 mainly the brown pelican, least tern, osprey and bald eagles, and Center Two provides services for the Sandhill Crane and Little Blue Heron. Conside ring that the intake of Endangered a ves is 21.9% of all avian intake and that the li sted species make up 79.60% of E ndangered aves, the conservation value provided to those species is high. However, of the species listed, only two are labeled T hreatened by the FFWCC, and all are recognized as Least Concern by the IUCN. Mammal ian Due to less than 1% of mammalian intake consisting of T hreatened species and a 20% release rate, the conservation value provided to mammals by Center Three is low. The main threats to the conservation status mammals of the area are urbanization and exploiters. The propagation of competitor and predatory species by Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers indicates that they offer no direct conservation value to the conservation status mammal s of Southwest Florida. Reptil ian For reptilian treatment, it seems that the intake and rele ase rates of E ndangered species are significant, totaling 66.58% of reptilian patients with an average release rate of 58%. When compared to the release rates of s pecies at risk in aves and mammals (20.07% and 20%, respectively), endangered reptiles are released nearly three times as often. However, as seen in Figure 6 it is clear that only 5.6% of intake is of the reptilian persuasion ; the intake of endangered rep tiles is only 3.93% of total intake for Center Three.
55 The low intake of reptiles may be due to general dislike of reptiles and therefore less reporting of them or that centers are not prepared to admit and treat them Shine and Koenig (2001) theorized t hat reptiles saw a high release rate from wildlife rehabilitation centers because they were not necessarily reported due to injury, and instead due to as suburban backy ards. It should be noted, however, that many of these animals may property owner. Reptiles, in contrast to nocturnal mammals, are most active during the day ( Shine and Koeni g 2001 ), when they are more likely to be reported by people. Based on the data presented by Center Three alone, the use of wildlife rehabilitation on endangered southern Florida reptiles appear to be a feasible way of supporting conservation efforts for l ocal, mainly terrestrial reptilian species. Little is known of the reproductive success or lifespan of animals treated and release d so no absolute conclusion can be drawn from the situation, but based on the release data from Center Three, Wildlife Rehabi litation is a hopeful possible solution for pressured reptiles in Southwest Florida.
56 Conclusion Based on the data collected from three Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers, the conservation values provided by Centers in Southwest Florida are low. This suppo rts the hypothesis that the conservation values are low and not necessarily beneficial to the endangered and threatened species of the ecosystems at hand. Only a handful of threatened avian species are assisted, one of which is listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and two listed as threatened by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; all are considered least concern by the IUCN. Mammalian conservation values of Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers are extremely low due to prop agation of competition and generalist predators. While the data for reptiles are optimistic, the possibility that those reptiles were not physically injured due to human activity before Wildlife R ehabilitation C enters treated them explains the high release rates, and the fact that most of these species are most imperiled by habitat loss means that translocation services provided by the rehabilitation centers does not effectively reduce the stress caused by urbanization on these populations though some indi viduals be translocated to appropriate habitat The process of reporting engaged in by Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers may affect the data. Animals that arrive dead were not required to be reported to the USFWS prior to 2009, so those animals may not have been reported, skewing possible release rate in relation to abundance of the species brought to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Additionally, dead animals found by citizens are not likely to be reported to Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. This creates bias in the data, creating a database where the
57 majority of the animals have survived to be found by humans alive. It is also important to recognize that conservation of threatened and endangered species is not the goal of most Wildlife Rehabilitation Cen ters. This study focused on that aspect, but the goal of rehabilitation centers are the success of released individuals and public education (Miller 2000) perhaps the most important aspect of Wildli fe Rehabilitation. This education should be continued and expanded; many Florida residents are unaware of which animals are in need of protection and might not report animals that they think are abundant, regardless
58 of the official statuses. Any accurate educational services provided to the public are beneficial. Additionally, some Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers focus on specific types of species, or specialize in them. At least three centers in Southwest Florida specialize in birds, at least five in ma mmals, and at least two in reptiles. One claims to accept native fauna only, but available information on this center implies otherwise (treatment of kinkajous, lemurs, etc.). Perhaps if the statues governing the rehabilitation of wildlife required conserv ation values to increase through either removing urban exploiters known to predate rarer species, or increase any surveillance in areas thought to contain rarer species, Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers would be valuable to the sustenance of rare Florida fa una. Such efforts as Trap, Neuter, and Release programs seen with feral cat colonies may be an option for abundant species control, specifically for opossums and raccoons. This would reduce some of the popu lation growth rates of the meso predators and there by reduce the pressure on possible prey. Alternatively, euthanization of mesopredators is an option, though the public may not support this and may not report injured animals. The goal of rehabilitation is to treat and release injured wildlife; controlling populations is not part of that goal, so this is unlikely. An increase in the number of centers which treat only native threatened or endangered wildlife might increase the conservation values for that center, as they would not contribute to the propagat ion of exploiter populations. The mammalian endangered or threatened species are particularly underrepresented in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers, so centers specific to them, likely located in rural or natural areas, would provide
59 assistance. The fact that most rehabilitation centers are in fact run by community members who live in disturbed areas limits the probability of this. Overall, to save the endangered and threatened fauna of Florida, large tracts of land need to be saved, similar to the Evergl ades. In particular, flatwoods need attention (Meyer and Ewel 1990) as they have not been protected as widely as wetlands, and many special status species reside in them. Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers are not the only answer, but specialized rehabilitati on for rare species may be of value to extremely small populations. Further Study Despite the federal requirement to Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers to maintain migratory bird rosters, few studies have used this resource to determine what animals are trea ted and successfully released by Rehabilitation Centers. This study focused on the overall release rates of conservation status species with no attention paid to the reason for treatment; studies utilizing these data may find new patterns in how certain ty pes of animals are injured and how to prevent these injuries. Understanding the direct causes of injury for various species may indicate where preventative measures may provide reprieve Such analysis of wildlife rehabilitation center databases would incre ase the conservation value they provide through information s upply. Few studies have utilized the information that is provided, but the information quality is variable. This study could be improved by a larger sample size of rehabilitation centers and dat a analyzed and further investigation into post release tracking of conservation status species. An issue with using databases of community run centers is the varying quality of
60 record keeping; one center had a large database of treatment and progress infor mation for each individual; others had only the federal list required of migratory birds. Furthermore, the paper records of each of the centers could be better utilized, as they often have information about where each individual is retrieved and possible c auses of injury. Plotting the areas where different species are from will provide further information about recurr e nt threats and development, and possibly how long it takes for the edge eff ect to seep into protected areas or those with new edges. The cen ters in this study were purposefully chosen to provide a span of vari a nts, including physical size, level of urbanization, and personnel size, to provide information across these vari a nts for comparison. Other studies may investigate Wildlife Rehabilitatio n Centers located exclusively in more or less urban contexts to determine how greatly this affects the species of animals treated.
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68 Appendix 1 IRB Approval : 00 031 Approval from the Institutional Research Board was sought for the express permission for interviewing the rehabilitation directors of each center In compliance with the application and approval, the individual centers have been coded to prevent identification.
69 Appendix 1 Wildlife Rehabilitation Questionaire 1. How long has the center been in operation (continuous operation)? 2. How long have you been in charge of the center? 3. What types of animals does the center often treat? a. Please list species (common or latin names). 4. Does the center treat non native species, such as pythons, foxes, armadillos, or feral hogs? a. Are these animals released after tr eatment? 5. How many workers total are regularly involved with the center? a. How many workers are actively involved with the medical and rehabilitation treatments of each individual animal, on average? b. How many of these workers have extensive experience or cer tifications in veterinary medicine? c. How many of these workers have moderate to fair experience in veterinary medicine? d. How many of these workers have no previous veterinary experience? e. How many of these workers have extensive experience or certifications in animal behavior? f. How many of these workers have moderate to fair experience in animal behavior? g. How many of these workers have no previous animal behavior experience? 6. and re habilitation? a. Who else at the center has certifications or qualifications for animal treatment and rehabilitation? 7. Please fill in the chart below with intake data of animals brought to the center from up to three years ago, if possible. 8. How many animal s were treated medically and stabilized per year? a. If possible, please indicate the number of which animals seen for which injuries. 9. How many animals were dead on arrival or humanly euthanized due to the extent of injuries or the lack of appropriate kno wledge or funding to treat them?
70 b. Of these animals, were the causes of death determined? c. If yes, please indicate the cause of death. d. Were diagnostic tests run to gather other information on deceased individuals? ( Please list which tests if yes, including Rabies testing). a. Were any interesting or otherwise unusual data recovered using these tests? If so, please explain. 10. After immediate medical care is administered and the individual is stabilized, when is rehabilitation begun? Please explain each step of the rehabilitation process, and how different steps may be taken based on the species and health of the individual. Please explain any unique techniques your center utilizes. 11. Do you have a guideline or outline that is standard procedure for rehabilitation ? (If so, please provide it to me). 12. Of animals successfully medically treated, or of animals that are medically healthy, how many begin the rehabilitation process? a. Of these, how many complete the process? b. Of these, how many have been successfully release d? c. Have any of the released animals (of the past 5 years) returned to the center due to subsequent injuries? a. If yes, what were the circumstances, species, and injuries? 13. Overall, are there a few species that the center has been particularly successful in treating and releasing? a. Are there a few species that are treated medically successfully, but not rehabilitated for release? b. Are there a few species that are rehabilitated well, but are difficult to treat medically? 14. Which rehabilitation step of the ones y ou listed would you consider most crucial to successful rehabilitation? a. Why? b. How do you ensure control during this step? c. If given unlimited funding, how would you enhance this step? 15. If given unlimited funding, what else would you enhance in the rehabilita tion process to ensure success? 16. natural environment? 17. human environments? 18. Do you consider the center to be a reasonable way to maintain local wild populations?
71 19. How would you increase the beneficial effect of the center to local environments? a. Natural b. Human
72 Appendix 2 Species with conservation status in Florida (IUCN Red List 2009; FFWCC 2009) Species List ing Organization Common Name Scientific Name FFWCC USFWS IUCN -Reptiles -A lligator snapping turtle Macroclemys temminckii SSC 1 V American alligator Alligator mississippiensis SSC (1,3) T S/A LC American crocodile Crocodylus acutus E T V Atlan tic salt marsh water snake Nerodia clarkii taeniata T T NL Graptemys barbouri SSC 12 NT Bluetail mole skink Eumeces egregius lividus T T NL Eastern indigo snake Drymarchon corais couperi T T NL Florida brown snake Storeria dekayi victa T S ubspecies NL; LC Florida Key mole skink Eumeces egregius egregius SSC1 (1) S ubspecies NL; LC Florida pine snake Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus SSC (2) S ubspecies NL; LC Florida ribbon snake Thamnophis sauritus sackeni T S ubspecies NL; LC G opher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus T V Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas E E E Hawksbill seaturtle Eretmochelys imbricata E E CE Lepidochelys kempii E E CE Key ringneck snake Diadophis punctatus acricus T S ubspecies NL; LC Leat herback seaturtle Dermochelys coriacea E E CE Loggerhead seaturtle Caretta caretta T E E Red rat snake Elaphe guttata SSC1 (1) NL Rim rock crowned snake Tantilla oolitica T E Sand skink Neoseps reynoldsi T E V Short tailed snake Stilosoma extenuatum T NT
73 Striped mud turtle Kinosternon baurii E NL Suwannee cooter Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis SSC 1 2 Subspecies NL; NT -Birds -Everglades snail kite Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus E E Subspecies NL; LC American oystercatcher Haematopus pal liatus SSC 1 2 LC Vermivora bachmanii E E CE Black skimmer Rynchops niger SSC (1) LC Brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis SSC 1 M anagement concern LC Burrowing owl Athene cunicularia SSC (1) LC Cape Sable seaside sparrow Ammodramu s maritimus mirabilis E E Subspecies NL; LC Crested caracara Caracara cheriway / Polyborus plancus audubonii T T LC Florida grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum floridanus E E Subspecies NL; LC Florida sandhill crane Grus canadensis pratensis T Su bspecies NL; LC Florida scrub jay Aphelocoma coerulescens T T V Ivory billed woodpecker Campephilus principalis E E CE Dendroica kirtlandii E E NT Least tern Sterna antillarum T E LC Limpkin Aramus guarauna SSC (1) management concer n LC Little blue heron Egretta caerulea SSC (1,4) LC Cistothorus palustris marianae SSC (1) Subspecies NL; LC Osprey Pandion haliaetus SSC2 (1,2) LC Piping plover Charadrius melodus T T NT Red cockaded woodpecker Picoides boreal is SSC E V Reddish egret Egretta rufescens SSC (1,4) management concern NT Roseate spoonbill Platalea ajaja SSC (1,4) LC
74 Roseate tern Sterna dougalli T T NL Ammodramus maritimus peninsulae SSC (1) Subspecies NL; LC Snowy egre t Egretta thula SSC (1) LC Snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus T LC Southeastern American kestrel Falco sparverius paulus T Subspecies NL; LC Tricolored heron Egretta tricolor SSC (1,4) LC Wakulla seaside sparrow Ammodramus maritimus juncicolus SS C (1) Subspecies NL; LC White ibis Eudocimus albus SSC (2) LC White crowned pigeon Columba leucocephala T NT Whooping crane Grus americana SSC (5) E Wood stork Mycteria americana E E LC Cistothorus palustris griseus SSC S ubspecies NL; LC -Mammals -Anastasia Island beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus phasma E E Subspecies NL; LC Big Cypress fox squirrel Sciurus niger avicennia T Subspecies NL; LC Choctawhatchee beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus allophrys E E LC Eas tern chipmunk Tamias striatus SSC 1 LC Everglades mink Mustela vison evergladensis T Subspecies NL; LC Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus E E E Florida black bear Ursus americanus floridanus T C Subspecies NL; LC Florida manatee Trichechus manatus latir ostris E E Subspecies NL; V Florida mastiff bat Eumops glaucinus floridanus E Subspecies NL; LC Florida mouse Podomys floridanus SSC 1 V Florida panther Puma concolor coryi E E Subspecies NL; LC
75 Florida saltmarsh vole Microtus pennsylvanicus dukecamp belli E E Subspecies NL; LC Gray bat Myotis grisescens E E NT Homosassa shrew Sorex longirostris eionis SSC (2) Subspecies NL; LC Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae E E LC Indiana bat Myotis sodalis E E Key deer Odocoileus virginianus clavium E E NL Key Largo Cotton Mouse Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola E E LC Key Largo woodrat Neotoma floridana smalli E E LC Lower Keys marsh rabbit Sylvilagus palustris hefneri E E NL North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis E E E Perdido Key beach m ouse Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis E Subspecies NL; LC Sanibel Island rice rat Oryzomys palustris sanibeli SSC 1 2 LC Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis E E E Sciurus niger shermani SSC I 2 Subspecies NL; LC tailed shrew Blarina carolonensis SSC 2 NL Silver rice rat Oryzomys argentatus E E NL Southeastern beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus nivieventris T E Subspecies NL; LC Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus E E V St. Andrews beach mouse Peromyscus polion otus peninsularis E E Subspecies NL; LC Key: SSC: Species of Special Concern. T: Threatened. T S/A: Threatened due to similarity of appearance. E: Endangered. LC: Least Concern. V: Vulnerable. NT:Near Threatened. CE: Critically Endangered. NL: Not List ed.
76 Appendix 3 Ecosystem Description Common Terrestrial Vertebrate Fauna Dry Prairie and Flatwoods Low flat topography and relatively poorly drained acidic sandy soil. Frequent fires. It is an open pine and oak forest with low undergrowth of saw palmet tos. Scrubland is the same as the flatwoods without the pine. Pinewoods tree frog, oak toad, box turtle, pine woods snake, eastern diamon d back rattlesnake, black racer, brown headed nuthatch, red c ockaded woodpecker, B achman s sparrow, pine warble r, grea t horned owl, least shre w, cotton mouse, cotton rat, grey fox. Fox squirrel, white tailed deer, black bear, Florida panther. Dry prairie fauna: Crested caracara (primary habitat ), burrowing owl (primary habitat), FL S andhill crane (primary habitat ). Box tur t le, black racer, tur k ey vulture, black vulture, common night hawk, e. meadowlark, least shrew, cott on rate eastern harvest mouse, Eastern spotted skunk. Scrubby flatwoods : Oak toad, p ine w oods tree frog, gopher tortoise, six lined race runner, e. dia mond back, bobwhite ground dove, Fl orida scrub jay, rufous sided towhee, Southeastern pocket gopher, Florida mouse. Endemic vertebrates : scrub lizard, blue ta iled mole skink, sand skink, Florida scrub jay, Florida mouse. Freshwater Marshes Marsh es ar e wetlands dominated by he rbaceous plants in shallow water. Bogs, fens, mires, prairies, wet prairies, savannas, wet savanna, reed swamps are all p alustrine emergent we tlands with f luctuating water levels, recur ring fires and hard water. Leopard frog, pig frog bullfrog, green tree frog, fire bellied newt, dwarf newt, green water snake, swamp snake, cotton mouth, mud snake, mud turtle, musk tu rtle, Florida cooter, red bellied turtl e. Little grass frog, narrow mouthed toad, pygmy rattlesnake, chicken turtle American alligator, Water rat mus krat, white tailed deer, Florida panther. Least bittern, A merican bittern, green backed heron, white ibis, glossy ibis, limpkin, king rail, marsh wren, common yellowthroat, red winged blackbird, boat tailed grack l es. Mottled duck, whistling duck, canvas backed ducks, r ing necked ducks. Cardinal, ca rolina wren, purple gallinule, red shoulde red hawk, Easter n pheobe, belted king fisher, palm warble Endangere d : Everglades snail kite, Cape S able seaside sparrow, sand hill cran es, wood stork Salt Marsh Coastal ecosystems with communities of salt tole rant plants in intertidal briny water s Most common mammal: raccoon, marsh rabbits. Minks, cotton r ats, cotton mice. Wading birds. Dunes and Maritime Forests Barrier Islands: in SW, Grasslands and palm savannas in sw. Green seatur t le, hawksbill seat urtle, loggerhead seaturtle, idl e y seaturtle, leather back seaturtle. Flatback seatur t l e, leas t tern royal tern, sandwich tern, black skimmer snowy plove r, American oysterc atcher, W il s on s plover, willet Laughing gu l l, C aspian tern S ooty tern s anderling Western sandpiper, short billed dow a t c her, red kn o t, blackbellied plover, p iping plover. cotton rat and ri ce rat.