Biodiversity in the everglades

In class biodiversity was discussed and how it in fact is what helps species thrive because in struggle some of the species will be able to handle the adversity and others will either adapt or die off. This reminded me of the growing problem for the Florida panther. The florida panther is the only panther population in the eastern United States and is the state animal of Florida. My family has a condo down in south Naples near Marco Island and it is common to see ‘panther crossing” signs in the area, although it is not common to see panthers. The panther population in florida is only between 150 and 200 in the wild.Every year naples holds a panther festival where proceeds go to helping bring back the panther population. the one thing that you will not find at this fest is an actual panther.

The number of panthers in the wild today is much higher though because of the efforts over the past 40 years to reintroduce panthers into the wild while mitigating inbreeding so that the species has a better chance of survival. Inbreeding is a huge problem for the panther because of the fact that it requires so much space for a single pack (traditionally 1 male and 2 to 5 females). about 200 acres is required to sustain a single panther group without it infringing on another. The good news is that florida has the space to do this!

The other problem is the fact that small population size still leads to in-breading in the population. The answer to that problem in part is to the recent introduction of a similar panther population from Texas. in 2006 they introduced 8 new female panthers into the population. The attempts at population rejuvination have been successful but at the same time today they only inhabit 5% of their original area.

florida-panther-fws

photo from:

http://www.defenders.org/florida-panther/basic-facts

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