Falcy, M.R., and Danielson, B.J. 2014. Post-hurricane recovery and long-term viability of the Alabama beach mouse. Biological Conservation 178: 28-36.
The spatial configuration of habitat and the frequency of disturbances through time could have interacting effects on population viability. With this in mind, we assessed the rate of post-hurricane recovery and long term viability of the Alabama beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus ammobates). We collected detection/nondetection data across the range of the Alabama beach mouse for four years subsequent to hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and then fit a dynamic patch occupancy model to these data using hierarchical Bayesian methods. We converted remotely sensed data into habitat classes, and then mapped site survival probability over the entire range of the species. These estimates were then used to parameterize a spatially-explicit population viability analysis. Our occupancy modeling demonstrates that the probability of patch occupancy increased from 0.16 to 0.67, with occupancy in the surveyed patches approaching an asymptote by the third post-hurricane summer. The viability analysis suggests that extinction probability increases nonlinearly with monotonic increases in both habitat loss and hurricane frequency. Extinction risk is sensitive to the regularity of catastrophic hurricanes; consecutive hurricanes dramatically increase extinction risk, further suggesting that the effect of global climate change on hurricane regimes may have a large effect on the probability of long-term persistence. A mild interaction between habitat loss and hurricane frequency occurs when extinction probability is relatively low, but disappears as extinction probability increases. Our results indicate that extinction risk is a complex function of multiple interacting drivers.