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Effects of Flooding on the Endangered Key Largo Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola) in Florida

Daniel U. Greene1,2,*, Michael T. Mengak1, Steven B. Castleberry1, Sandra Sneckenberger3, and Jeffery A. Gore4

1Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. 2Current address - Weyerhaeuser Company, Strategy and Technology, Environmental Research South, Columbus, MS 39701. 3US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vero Beach, FL 32960. 4Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 3911 Hwy 2321 Panama City, FL 32409. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Issue 2 (2021): N65–N68

Peromyscus gossypinus allapaticola (Key Largo Cotton Mouse) is a federally endangered subspecies of Cotton Mouse endemic to the island of Key Largo, FL. While conducting a live-trapping session to estimate Key Largo Cotton Mouse population size, we were scheduled to survey at 1 of our trapping grids on 02 November 2007, a week after a perigean spring tide, an event known to occasionally cause coastal flooding in low-lying areas. Upon arrival, ~ 0.5 m of water was inundating our grid. Therefore, we delayed trapping by 14 days, although the grid was still partially flooded. Despite this flooding event, during 4 consecutive nights of live trapping, we recaptured 6 of 11 individuals marked earlier that year in March and July. Our observations of the Key Largo Cotton Mouse’s response to flooding are the first for the subspecies. Understanding how the subspecies responds to short-duration flooding events may help inform conservation efforts by identifying areas least vulnerable to periodic flooding and assessing how those areas overlap with remaining habitat for the Key Largo Cotton Mouse.

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