Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Biology

Major Professor

Earl McCoy.

Co-Major Professor

Henry Mushinsky

Keywords

habitat, habitat selection, landsat TM, AVHRR, gap analysis, Monte Carlo, logistic regression, wildlife-habitat relationships

Abstract

This dissertation is a treatise on spatially-explicit resource selection on two very different vertebrate species. The North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is the most endangered large whales in the world. Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement are impediments to recovery. The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an imperiled species whose upland habitats are shrinking from urban and agricultural development. Determining spatial distribution of important resources is important for conservation strategies. Historical and modern thinking of habitat selection theory and analytical techniques are reviewed and applied to these species. Fine-scale resource selection of sea surface temperature (SST), derived from AVHRR imagery, is evaluated for right whales in the southeastern U. S. calving grounds.

Aerial survey data (December-March, 1991-1998) including survey tracklines and right whale locations were entered into a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for comparing whale use of SST to availability based on search effort. Using Monte Carlo techniques, mean and standard deviation for SSTs and latitudes of whale-sightings were compared to sampling distributions derived from available SSTs and latitudes. From these data, it was concluded that the North Atlantic right whale uses SSTs and latitudes non-randomly. Broad-scale habitat selection for gopher tortoises was evaluated from the 2003 Land Cover/Land Use map (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). Based on land cover and ancillary data, potential gopher tortoise habitat was developed for northeast Florida.

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