Identification of Previously Undocumented Florida Grasshopper Sparrow and Confirmation of the Current Population Status and Distribution

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Population trends suggest that the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow may go extinct within five years. USGS research aims to collect demographic information to help identify the current status of the species.

Number of singing Florida Grasshopper Sparrow males per year

Number of singing Florida Grasshopper Sparrow males per year

The Science Issue and Relevance: The status of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (FGSP) is perilous. Breeding season reports from the three public land areas supporting the FGSP indicate a further, and sharp, decline in 2011. Monitoring projects at all three populations recorded their lowest counts on record. At Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR), only two males were detected, indicating that FGSP are functionally extirpated from the area. While there are reports of small, remnant populations on at least three private ranches, none of these are likely to be as large as those at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP) and Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area (TLWMA). Population trends suggest that extinction may occur within 5 years.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Of crucial need is the verification of the current status of the species, and identification of previously unknown FGSP on public and private lands. To answer this urgent question, we propose to conduct extensive breeding season surveys on public and private lands where FGSPs are known or believed to occur. These surveys are necessary for the development of rigorous population and distribution estimates for the species, and to identify potential source populations for captive propagation, if warranted in the future. These surveys, especially in areas not currently surveyed for FGSPs, may provide new demographic information that could be useful for future management decisions. This information may also be useful for the future development of species distribution and habitat suitability models. 

Point count detections for Florida Grasshopper Sparrows per year

Point count detections for Florida Grasshopper Sparrows per year

Future Steps: Habitat data may be estimated for each transect. Habitat data, along with FGSP survey data, may be used in the future for the development of species distribution and/or habitat suitability models. Entry of data from previous years of collection will be performed as time permits in support of the FGSP database project. Data from the database project will be used for future data analysis projects. Habitat enhancement activities such as tree removal and prescribed burning on public lands will also be performed if time permits.

Products:

Romanach, SS and PL Gallo. 2013. Identification of previously undocumented Florida Grasshopper Sparrow occurrences on public and private lands, and confirmation of the current population status and distribution: FY2013 Final Update.

Romanach, SS and JP Chapman. 2014. Identification of previously undocumented Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (FGSP), Ammodramus savannarum floridanus, occurrences on public and private lands, and confirmation of the current population status and distribution: FY2014 Final Update.

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum floridanus

Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum floridanus