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Florida scrub jay

Modeling a species’ population response to vegetation change: the case of the Florida scrub jay

Florida scrub jay
The Florida scrub jay in its preferred habitat, the Florida oak scrub ecosystem. Photo credit: Colin Daniel, 2023.

ApexRMS staff recently met with collaborating scientists, land managers, and modelers to discuss the potential role of land management practices in mitigating the decline of the Florida scrub jay. The Florida scrub jay is the only bird endemic to Florida and its recent population decline is in large part due to the species’ dependence on a unique oak scrub ecosystem. This ecosystem, found only along the ancient sandy ridges and dunes of Florida, has been disappearing over the past 50-100 years from land conversion and fire suppression. ApexRMS is involved with determining if prescribed burning could help improve the quality of the remaining scrub jay habitat and what the potential implications might be for the bird’s population size.

In addition to visiting the remaining tracts of Florida oak scrub habitat, ApexRMS president, Colin Daniel, also participated in discussions for creating an integrated model of vegetation change and population dynamics of the Florida scrub jay. As a collaborative project with The Nature Conservancy and Dr. Bob Lacy, the creator of the Vortex Population Viability Analysis (PVA), ApexRMS is excited to be breaking new ground by connecting the PVA model to the ST-Sim model of vegetation change in support of a recovery strategy for the Florida scrub jay.