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Research Needs

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Since the Florida Panther Refuge was established in 1989, its 26,000+ acres has been the focus of scientific research from many universities, government and non-government organizations; both nationally and internationally.  Regarded by many as relatively undisturbed or still representative of natural habitats, various data collected from the Refuge has often been used as baseline information to compare with other sites on nearby lands undergoing needed research or restoration, such as the restoration of the Picayune Strand State Forest. 

All research undertaken on the Refuge is either sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or allowed through an approval process and Special Use Permit.  Many factors are weighed in approving research activities, including the pertinent need for the work, access requirements, level of supervision required, degree of anticipated disturbance, and how the results of any given project may support the respective missions of the Service, Refuge System and the objectives that the Refuge has set forth in the Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

If you are a College or University professor, post-doc or graduate student looking for a project that will have real implications on the management of wildlife and habitats, the following is a sampling of research “questions” that could be considered in developing hypotheses’ for investigations on the Refuge.

Using data from existing remote camera array  

  1. Florida panther density (mark recapture) 
  2. Florida panther occurrence on Refuge by Date, Season, Year (animal use-days) 
  3. Deer, relative abundance (trend data over a number of years) 
  4. Bear, relative abundance (trend data over a number of years ) 
  5. Turkey, relative abundance (trend data over a number of years) 
  6. Wild hog, relative abundance (trend data over a number of years) 
  7. Other predators, relative abundance (trend data over a number of years):
    a. Grey fox
    b. Bobcat
    c. Red fox (non-native)
    d. Coyote (non-native) 
  8. Ratio of occurrence:
    a. Panther vs. Prey (deer and hogs)
    b. Panther vs. Other predators (Grey fox, Bobcat, Red fox, Coyote)
    c. Panther vs. Human activity (vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic, mowing) 
  9. Reproduction indices for Panther, Deer, Hogs, Turkey and Bear 
    a. Time of breeding (hardened vs. velvet antlers [deer], panther courtship [telemetry])
    b. Time of parturition
    c. Fecundity (# of offspring) 
  10. Activity Patterns:
    a. Nocturnal vs. Diurnal activity by species
    b. Moon phase activity by species
    c. Wet season vs. Dry season
    d. Weather event by species (Hurricanes, significant rain or wind events) 
  11. Responses to Management:
    a. Species Response to Fire
    b. Species Response to Mowing (particularly interior tram lines [swamps])
    c. Species Response to Cabbage Palm Removal
    d. Species Response to Exotic Removal (Brazilian Pepper in Unit 11) 
  12. Spatial Analysis (GIS):
    a. Species Occurrence by Habitat (species richness)
    b. Species Density by Habitat (habitat quality)
    c. Multi-variant Comparisons (water levels vs. habitat type vs. species vs. management) 
  13. Animal Behaviors Observed (life history information)   


Other opportunities   

  1. Hydrological modeling and development of a water budget for optimal hydroperiod conditions. 
  2. The effect of prescribed fire frequency on ground cover height and density. 
  3. The status and reproductive potential of bobwhite quail relative to habitat conditions. 
  4. Red-cockaded woodpecker reintroduction viability. 
  5. Big Cypress fox squirrel ecology. 
  6. Swallow-tailed kite habitat utilization and nest-site selection. 
  7. Modeling fire behavior with and without cabbage palm ground cover and mid-story component. 


Page Photo Credits — Researcher in the lab - Larry W. Richardson/USFWS
Last Updated: Nov 26, 2013
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