Graduation Year

2016

Degree

M.S.

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Joni Downs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Walton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ruiliang Pu, Ph.D.

Keywords

Geographic Information Systems, Land Cover, Telemetry, Wildlife

Abstract

The term “home range” refers to the area in which an animal spends most of its time during everyday activities. This study examined the effects of four different home range estimation techniques on the proportions of habitats located therein. The study utilized a point dataset collected for twenty individual Florida Black Bears (Ursus americanus floridanus), occurring in five different areas throughout the state of Florida. Each dataset was used to create home ranges using the following techniques: (1) Minimum Convex Polygon, (2) Kernel Density Estimation, (3) Characteristic Hull Polygon, and (4) Time-Geographic Density Estimation, a new home range estimator which has not been thoroughly tested prior to this study. A dataset of land cover types was clipped with each home range and the areas of habitats were recalculated. The proportion of each land cover type was evaluated and the results compared first within each dataset, then between all datasets used. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine whether the four home range estimation techniques produced significantly different areas and proportions of each habitat type. These results were then evaluated to determine whether the method of home range estimation has an effect on which land cover types are most utilized by a species and, therefore, which habitats are considered preferable. While the choice of home range estimation did not have an effect on which habitats were determined to be most frequently visited, it did affect the amount of each habitat found within each home range. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant change in the amount of developed areas, specifically between the characteristic hull polygon and kernel density estimation methods. These results suggest the choice of home range estimator affects habitat analysis and that researchers should use the method best suited for the dataset.

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