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Feral swine damage to globally imperiled wetland plant communities in a significant biodiversity hotspot in Florida

Biodiversity and Conservation, September 2016, Vol.25(10), pp.1879-1898 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Feral swine damage to globally imperiled wetland plant communities in a significant biodiversity hotspot in Florida
  • Author: Engeman, Richard ; Orzell, Steve ; Felix, Rodney ; Tillman, Eric ; Killian, Gary ; Avery, Michael
  • Contributor: Engeman, Richard (correspondence author)
  • Found In: Biodiversity and Conservation, September 2016, Vol.25(10), pp.1879-1898 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Savannahs ; Grasslands ; Hot Spots ; Abundance ; Parks ; Plant Communities ; Conservation ; Biodiversity ; Wetlands ; Rooting ; Habitat ; Land Use ; Savannahs ; Grasslands ; Hot Spots ; Abundance ; Plant Communities ; Conservation ; Biological Diversity ; Wetlands ; Habitat ; Seepages ; Land Use ; Asw, USA, Florida ; Management and Conservation ; Air Pollution ; Issues in Sustainable Development
  • Language: English
  • Description: We studied rooting damage during five-years of feral swine control at Avon Park Air Force Range, a significant botanical biodiversity hotspot in peninsular Florida with many globally imperiled plant species and communities. While control reduced swine abundance, remaining animals consistently rooted the 49 studied sites in both middle-dry season (MDS) and late-dry season (LDS) each year. At each study site, we measured rooting with sub-meter accuracy. Neither total nor proportional area rooted differed in either season, across study years, or among plant community types: herbaceous seepage slopes, wet pine savannas, wet grasslands. The proportion of sites with damage during MDS was at least 25 % less than pre-control baseline. During LDS, the proportion of sites with damage increased over years but remained below the initial 2 years' MDS results. Fresh rooting frequency (rooting <1 week-old) across sites dropped precipitously from baseline and remained low for MDS. Fresh rooting frequency among sites during LDS was lower than MDS for all but year two of the study. Canopied habitat <50 m from a study site almost guaranteed rooting at the site each observation period. We propose actions for protecting wetlands, integrating swine control into other compatible land use practices, and improving swine control efficacy. While we measured damage amounts at each site very accurately, our approach of also considering frequency of rooting and frequency of fresh rooting across sites offers low-labor means to broadly assess swine damage and control efficacy at large geographic scales because in-field measurements of damage amounts are not needed.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0960-3115 ; E-ISSN: 1572-9710 ; DOI: 10.1007/s10531-016-1166-y

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