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          DECLINE OF SCRUB HABITATS

 

                      
                         U.S. Census Bureau statistics for population growth in Florida 
                        from 1860 through 2020. Note that the total for the year 2020 
                         is a projected figure.

               
                  
                          Courtesy of T. Robinson, and L. Smith, Brevard County Parks 
                           and Recreation Department, Environmentally Endangered Lands                            Program. Used with permission. 
For more information
                           on this study, visit: 
   
                                         
http://www.eelbrevard.com/eel/scb/index.htm 


Populations of the Florida scrub jay, the state's only endemic bird, have been in decline since the 1950s, principally due to loss of the mainland scrub communities which are its primary habitat. The Robinson and Smith study (1996) examined the relationship between increases in human population in Brevard County, Florida with respect to declines in both the number of breeding pairs of threatened Florida scrub jays, and the number of acres available to scrub jays as habitat. Note that as human population (yellow line) increased between 1940 and 1990, the number of acres of available scrub habitat (blue line), and the number of breeding scrub jay pairs (pink line) decreased. Between 1940 and 1990, the human population of Brevard County increased by over 2700%.  Scrub habitat was reduced by approximately 70%, as scrub communities were converted into agricultural, commercial and residential properties. Coinciding with this loss of habitat, the number of breeding pairs of scrub jays declined by 87%. Following development of natural scrub communities, what remained of scrub jay habitat was poor in quality, and highly fragmented.  This trend, which has been mirrored statewide, remains a threat;  not only to the scrub jay, but also to the many other species that rely on scrub habitats for their survival. 

 

Further Reading:

Bergen, S. 1994. Characterization of fragmentation in Florida scrub communities. M.S. thesis. Dept. Bio. Sci., Florida Institute of Tech., Melbourne, FL.

Toland, B.R. 1999. Current Status and Conservation Recommendations for the Florida Scrub-Jay in Brevard County. Report to the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners. unpubl. tech. rep. 39pp.

Fernald, R.T. 1989. Coastal xeric scrub communities of the Treasure Coast Region, Florida: A summary of their distribution and ecology, with guidelines for their preservation and management. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Comm. Nongame Wildlife Pgm. Tech. Rep. No. 6. Tallahassee, FL. 113 pp.

Fitzpatrick, J.W., G.E. Woolfenden, and M.T. Kopeny. 1991. Ecology and development-related habitat requirements of the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens coerulescens). Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Comm. Nongame Wildlife Program Tech. Rep. No. 8. Tallahassee, FL.

Fitzpatrick, J.W., R. Bowman, D.R. Breininger, M.A. O'Connell, Brad Stith, J. Thaxton, B.R. Toland, and G.E. Woolfenden. 1994a. Habitat conservation plans for the Florida scrub-jay: A biological framework. Archbold Biological Research Station unpubl. tech. rep. 175pp.

Breininger D.R., V.L. Larson, B.W. Duncan, R.B. Smith. 1998. Linking habitat suitability to demographic success in Florida scrub-jays. Wildlife Society Bulletin 26:118-128.

Breininger, D.R. and D.M. Oddy. 1998. Biological criteria for the recovery of Florida scrub-jay populations on public lands in Brevard County. Final rep. to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jacksonville Field Office. 54pp.

Breininger, D.R., D.M. Oddy, M.L. Legare, and B.W. Duncun. 1999. Developing Biological Criteria for the Recovery of Florida Scrub-Jay Populations on Public Lands in Brevard County: Patterns of Fire History, Habitat Fragmentation, Habitat Use and Demography. Final Report to the Endangered Species Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, FL. 117 pp.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Department of Natural Resources. 1990. Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida. Publication. 11pp. Tallahassee, FL.

Chambliss K., D.D. Hott, and M.H. Slotkin. 1998. Public Goods, Biodiversity, and Municipal Land Acquisstion: Reflections of the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program in Brevard County, Florida. Presented at 23rd Annual Conference Association of Private Enterprise Education, Dallas, Texas 11 pp.

Swain, H., P. A. Schamlzer, D. R. Breininger, K. Root, S. Boyle, S. Bergen, S. MacCaffree. 1995. Appendix B Biological Consultant's Report. Brevard County Scrub Conservation and Development Plan. Dept. Bio. Sci., Florida Institute of Technology., Melbourne, FL.

 

Report by: K. Hill, Smithsonian Marine Station
Submit additional information, photos or comments to:
irl_webmaster@si.edu
Page last updated: Dec. 13, 2001

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