Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wildlife professor updates ’best available science’ on Florida panther

14.10.2005


When researchers and policymakers consider the best ways to protect an endangered species, the phrase "best available science" is frequently used to describe the scientific basis behind decisions that are aimed at preserving natural habitat and preventing further decline in species population.


Marcella Kelly, assistant professor of wildlife science at Virginia Tech, has provided a photo of a puma taken in Belize in 2003 from a remote camera, part of her research to measure populations of big cats.



However, the "best available science" has been shortchanging the Florida panther, according to an article by Liza Gross in the Pulbic Library of Science Biology (Aug. 23, 2005) and a report to be published in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management (Beier P, Vaughan M, Conroy M, Quigley H. "Deconstructing flawed scientific inferences about the Florida panther.").

Since 2002, fisheries and wildlife science professor Mike Vaughan has been one of four members of a Science Review Team put in place to review the research of the State of Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on one of the country’s most endangered species: the Florida panther. As a team member and an expert on large carnivore ecology, Vaughan reviewed more than 20 years and 3,000 pages of scientific literature based on Florida panther research.


His analysis revealed serious flaws in their research and understanding of habitat requirements for the panthers. Vaughan pointed out that although the existing research conducted and adhered to by the FWS and State of Florida was loaded with what he called "improper inferences," it still was "taken as gospel once it was published, and [therefore] this flawed research keeps being cited."

The idea of reviewing research on the Florida panther was first brought to Vaughan’s attention by his former Ph.D. student John Kasbohm, who was the coordinator of the Florida panther recovery program for the U.S. FWS.

As Vaughan and his colleagues reviewed the data gathered in the panther research, they quickly identified a major source of oversight in the service’s analysis of panther habitat requirements. The researchers collected only daytime activity data on the Florida feline and failed to acknowledge the cat’s nocturnal nature.

Not realizing that a panther’s nighttime activity may cover greater area than during the day, the federal and state researchers made generalizations from the daytime data to cover an entire 24-hour period. This led to the unfounded conclusion that panthers wouldn’t travel more than 90 meters outside of a forested area. Furthermore, numerous decisions related to development and land use in Florida have resulted from the FWS’ erroneous assumptions that fail to acknowledge the panther’s true range of coverage.

The work of the Science Review Team and Vaughan recently led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revise its guidelines. The Florida panther population has been increasing from 40 to 50 cats in 1995 to approximately 80 today, and Vaughan suggests this positive trend can continue by "reanalyzing existing data and gathering more data on kitten survival so that population growth and reproductive rates can be modeled."

Is it a panther, wildcat, cougar, puma, or mountain lion?

Within North America, the names "panther, wildcat, cougar, and mountain lion" are used interchangeably to describe a large, predatory feline. When asked what the difference is among these varieties, Mike Vaughan explains that they are genetically all the same. Vaughan bases this notion on the studies of a former wildlife science research associate Melanie Culver, who examined the genetic composition of each cat. Vaughan attributes the difference in terminology to regional distinctions and minor variations in physical features like skull size. In fact, Vaughan adds "relocation studies with the Texas cougar in Florida have shown the large carnivore can adapt, intermingle with the native panther, and thrive its new environment."

Lynn Davis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>