Spatial Ecology of Bobcats in the Greater Everglades

Science Center Objects

WARC researchers will estimate the density and distribution of bobcats in relation to environmental variables through the development of spatially explicit capture-recapture and occupancy models.

Bobcat

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) (Public domain.)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Bobcats (Lynx rufus) play an important role in ecosystem function in the United States through their role as a top predator. Bobcat populations are reported to be expanding across the U.S. except in the State of Florida, where bobcat population declines have been attributed to anthropogenic habitat modification. In Everglades National Park specifically, bobcat populations have declined by almost 90% after the invasion of the Burmese python. However, relatively little is known about the spatial ecology of bobcats in the Greater Everglades. This knowledge gap is of particular concern to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), who need to understand the responses of terrestrial wildlife, like bobcats, to water management in the Greater Everglades.

 

 

 

 

 

Water Conservation Area 3

The density and distribution of bobcats will be estimated for Water Conservation Area 3 (Public domain.)

 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: We will estimate the density and distribution of bobcats in Water Conservation Area 3 in relation to environmental variables (e.g., vegetation, water depth). Spatially explicit capture-recapture and occupancy models will be developed using photographs collected from camera traps set by FWC. These statistical modeling techniques will be used to relate spatial and temporal variation in bobcat abundance to water level fluctuations and habitat variables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camera Traps

Motion-triggered camera traps set by FWC will collect photographs of bobcats to develop models (Public domain.)

 

 

 

 

 

Future Steps: We will develop parameterized models of bobcat density and its spatial and temporal variation in response to environmental variables. FWC is particularly interested in the results of this study to help guide management decisions during high water events in the Greater Everglades.