Measurement Problems and Florida Panther Models

Conservation planning is only as good as the science on which it relies. This paper evaluates the science underlying the least-cost-path model, developed by Meegan and Maehr (2002) , for the Florida panther, Puma concolor coryi. It also assesses the resulting claim that private lands in central Florida are desirable for panther colonization (Maehr et al. 2002a , p. 187; Maehr 2001 , pp. 3–4; Maehr and Deason 2002 , p. 400). The paper argues that panther conservation planning, as proposed by Maehr, is flawed because of its (1) poor analysis of panther-habitat requirements, owing largely to use of only daytime telemetry, a black-box model, and failure to take account of spatial and temporal uncertainties; (2) use of stipulative and misleading definitions of key biological terms, such as “forest obligate” and panther “dispersal”; (3) employment of question-begging value judgments to rank habitat; (4) weak testing of the model; (5) inconsistency in evaluation of forest habitat; (6) inconsistency in evaluation of agricultural lands; and (7) inconsistency in assessing effects of highways on panther habitat.
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