Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: North Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

North Carolina Project

Assessing endangered marsh rabbit and woodrat habitat use and feral cat population dynamics using photographic, video, and RFID capture-recapture data

September 2011 - July 2016


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The lower keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) and the Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli) are endangered species endemic to the Florida Keys. Their survival is threatened by a variety of factors including habitat change, sea level rise, and introduced predators like feral cats that thrive in human-dominated landscapes. Research has suggested that management actions focusing on the interactions among these factors are needed. Current management objectives include assessing the co-occurrence of marsh rabbits and cats, estimating the distribution and abundance of feral cat populations, and evaluating the efficacy of artificial structures and other restoration efforts for woodrats. We propose to use photographic, video, and RFID capture-recapture methodologies to inform the management of these two endangered species. Our primary objectives are to: (1) use camera trapping methods to validate marsh rabbit pellet count occupancy estimates and to estimate population size and movement of feral cats, and (2) use camera traps, video, and RFID tag monitoring to assess use of artificial structures by woodrats and to estimate the population size and movement of feral cats in woodrat habitat.