Florida panther

Florida panther

name = Florida Panther
status = CR
trend = unknown
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref = IUCN2006 | assessors = Cat Specialist Group | year = 1996 | id = 18869 | title = Puma concolor" ssp. "coryi | downloaded = 2007-06-26 Database entry includes a brief justification of why this subspecies is critically endangered and the criteria used]

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Felidae
genus = "Puma"
species = "P. concolor"
subspecies = "P. c. coryi"
trinomial = "Puma concolor coryi"
trinomial_authority = Bangs, 1899
synonyms = Proposed taxonomic revision: aggregation with other subspecies of "Puma concolor" into a single subspecies of North American cougar, "P. c. couguar"MSW3 Wozencraft | pages = 544-545] , following Culver (2000).

The Florida panther is a critically endangered representative of cougar ("Puma concolor") that lives in the low pinelands, palm forests and swamps of southern Florida in the United States. Its current taxonomic status ("Puma concolor coryi" or "Puma concolor couguar") is unresolved.

Males weigh about 150 pounds and live within a range that includes the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades National Park, and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. [ [http://www.fws.gov/endangered/i/a/saa05.html FLORIDA PANTHER] . "Division of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Last Retrieved 2007-01-30.] This population, the only unequivocal cougar representative in the eastern United States, currently occupies only 5% of its historic range. The number of living panthers is estimated to be between 80 to 100. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. [http://myfwc.com/whatsnew/07/statewide/panther-rk.html Florida panther deaths increase from collisions with vehicles] Press release, Date: June 29, 2007]

Taxonomic status

The Florida panther has long been considered a unique subspecies of cougar, under the trinomial "Puma concolor coryi" ("Felis concolor coryi" in older listings), one of thirty-two subspecies once recognized. Under these terms, the population was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1967, [cite web |url=http://www.fws.gov/endangered/i/a/saa05.html |title=Florida Panther |accessdate=2007-06-07 | work=Endangered and Threatened Species of the Southeastern United States (The Red Book)| year=1993 |publisher=U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] and it continues to be one of the most intensively and expensively protected feline populations in the world.

A genetic study of cougar mitochondrial DNA finds that many of the supposed subspecies are too similar to be recognized as distinct,cite journal | author = Culver, M. | coauthors = Johnson, W.E., Pecon-Slattery, J., O'Brein, S.J. | date = 2000 | title = Genomic Ancestry of the American Puma | journal = Journal of Heredity | volume = 91 | issue = 3 | pages = 186–197 | url = http://www.coryi.org/Florida_panther/Miscellaneous_Panther_Material/Genomic%20ancestry%20of%20the%20American%20puma.pdf | format = PDF | doi = 10.1093/jhered/91.3.186] suggesting a reclassification of the Florida panther and numerous other subspecies into a single North American cougar ("Puma concolor couguar"). Following the research, the canonical "Mammal Species of the World" (3rd edition) ceased to recognize the Florida panther as a unique subspecies, collapsing it and others into the North American cougar.

Despite these findings it is still listed as subspecies "Puma concolor coryi" in research works, including those directly concerned with its conservation.cite journal |first=Michael J. |last=Conroy |coauthors=Paul Beier; Howard Quigley; Michael R. Vaughan |year=2006 |month=January |url=http://www.wildlifejournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-pdf&file=i0022-541X-70-1-1.pdf |title=Improving The Use Of Science In Conservation: Lessons From The Florida Panther |journal=Journal of Wildlife Management |volume=70 |issue=1 |pages=1–7 |doi=10.2193/0022-541X(2006)70 [1:ITUOSI] 2.0.CO;2 |accessdate=2007-06-11 |format=subscription required |doilabel=10.2193/0022-541X(2006)70[1:ITUOSI]2.0.CO;2] Responding to the research that suggested removing its subspecies status, the Florida Panther Recovery Team notes "the degree to which the scientific community has accepted the results of Culver et al. and the proposed change in taxonomy is not resolved at this time."cite web |url=http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/Florida%20panther%20files/Panther%20Recovery%20Plan%202006_01_31%20-%20no%20figures.pdf |title=Florida Panther Recovery Program (Draft) |accessdate=2007-06-11 |author=The Florida Panther Recovery Team |date=2006-01-31 |format=PDF |publisher=U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]


Recovery efforts are currently underway in Florida to conserve the state's remaining population of native panthers. This is a difficult task, as the panther requires large contiguous areas of habitat — each breeding unit, consisting of one male and two to five females, requires about convert|200|sqmi|km2|-2 of habitat. [ [http://www.fws.gov/verobeach/WhatsNew/Press_release/Panther%20Recovery%20Plan%202006_01_31%20-%20no%20figures.pdf Florida Panther Recovery Plan] . The Florida Panther Recovery Team, South Florida Ecological Services Office, "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Published 1995-03-13. Last Retrieved 2007-01-30.] A population of 240 panthers would require 8,000 to convert|12000|sqmi|km2|-3 of habitat and sufficient genetic diversity in order to avoid inbreeding as a result of small population size. The introduction of eight female cougars from a closely related Texas population has apparently been successful in mitigating inbreeding problems. [ [http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2006/images/PantherGeneticFactSheet.pdf Florida Panther and the Genetic Restoration Program] . "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Last Retrieved 2007-01-30.]

Southern Florida is a fast-developing area, and declining habitat threatens this species. The two highest causes of mortality for the Florida panthers are automobile injuries and aggression between panthers for territory. The primary threats to the population as a whole include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation. The development at Ave Maria near Naples, is controversial for its location in prime panther habitat. [ [http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/Fish/southflorida/news/maria2004.html Sierra Club Says Ave Maria Will 'Threaten' Everglades ] ]


The Florida panther has been at the center of a controversy over the science used to manage the species. There has been strong disagreement between scientists about the location and nature of critical habitat. This in turn is linked to a dispute over management which involves property developers and environmental organisations. [Gross L (2005) Why Not the Best? How Science Failed the Florida Panther. PLoS Biol 3(9): e333 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0030333] ] Recovery agencies appointed a panel of four experts, the Florida Panther Scientific Review Team (SRT), to evaluate the soundness of the body of work used to guide panther recovery. The SRT identified serious problems in panther literature, including miscitations and misrepresentation of data to support unsound conclusions. [Beier, P, MR Vaughan, MJ Conroy, and H Quigley. 2003, An analysis of scientific literature related to the Florida panther: Submitted as final report for Project NG01-105, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, FL. 203 pp. [http://oak.ucc.nau.edu/pb1/vitae/Panther-SRT.pdf] ] [Beier, P, MR Vaughan, MJ Conroy, and H Quigley. 2006. Evaluating scientific inferences about the Florida panther. Journal of Wildlife Management 70:236-245. [http://www.wildlifejournals.org/archive/0022-541X/70/1/pdf/i0022-541X-70-1-236.pdf] ] [Conroy, MJ, P Beier, H Quigley, and MR Vaughan. 2006. Improving the use of science in conservation: lessons from the Florida panther. Journal of Wildlife Management 70:1-7. [http://www.wildlifejournals.org/archive/0022-541X/70/1/pdf/i0022-541X-70-1-1.pdf] ] A Data Quality Act (DQA) complaint brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Andrew Eller, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), was successful in demonstrating that agencies continued to use incorrect data after it had been clearly identified as such. [ [http://www.fws.gov/informationquality/topics/FY2004/Florida%20Panther/index.html Information Quality Guidelines: Your Questions and Our Responses] . "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Published 2005-03-21. Last Retrieved 2007-01-30.] As a result of the DQA ruling, USFWS admitted errors in the science the agency was using and subsequently reinstated Eller, who had been fired by USFWS after filing the DQA complaint. In two white papers, environmental groups contended that habitat development was permitted that should not have been, and documented the link between incorrect data and financial conflicts of interest. [* Kostyack, J and K Hill. 2005. Giving Away the Store. [http://www.nwf.org/nwfwebadmin/binaryVault/Giving%20Away%20the%20Store.pdf] ] [Kostyack, J and K Hill. 2004. Discrediting a Decade of Panther Science: Implications of the Scientific Review Team Report. [http://www.nwf.org/nwfwebadmin/binaryVault/DiscreditingaDecadeofPantherScience.pdf] ] In January 2006, USFWS released a new Draft Florida Panther Recovery Plan for public review. [ [http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2006/r06-008.html Fish and Wildlife Service releases Draft Florida Panther Recovery Plan for public review] . "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Published 2006-01-31. Last Retrieved 2007-01-30.]


External links

* [http://myfwc.com/panther/ Florida Panther Net - the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's educational page]
* [http://www.nps.gov/ever/eco/panther.htm Florida Panther - National Park Service website]
* [http://www.panthersociety.org/index.html The Florida Panther Society, Inc.]
* [http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2006/r06-008.html U.S. Fish and Wildlife Press Release on new Draft Recovery Plan]

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