Population Impacts to Florida Key Deer: Screwworm, Hurricanes, and Rising Seas
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 7:00:00 PM UTC - 9:00:00 PM UTC
The endangered Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is the smallest sub-species of white-tailed deer in North America, and endemic to the Florida Keys south of peninsular Florida. Key deer occupy a limited range, from Little Pine Key in the east to Sugarloaf Key to the west (18–20 km linear distance), and maintain a relatively small extant population of 1,000–1,200 deer. Approximately 75% of the population are located on two adjacent islands, Big Pine and No Name keys, which comprise the core habitat for this species. Historically, urban development has been a major concern in the recovery and management of Key deer. More recently, a disease outbreak of New World screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax, Jul 2016–Jan 2017) and the landing of a Category 4 storm (Hurricane Irma, 9 Sep 2017) impacted the population 15% and 23%, respectively. In both cases, the Key deer population demonstrated high resiliency to these stochastic events. In contrast, population modeling of sea-level rise impacts predicts long-term resiliency for Key deer to low over 50+year modeling horizons. Long-term conservation strategies may include targeting upland habitat areas least likely to be impacted by sea-level rise combined with translocations of deer into such areas.
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