Although the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) has a history of study spanning more than 2 decades, some researchers have criticized previous habitat analyses of the panther for using daytime telemetry locations to infer 24-hour habitat use, selective use of radiotagged animals, comparison of animal locations to an inappropriate set of available resources, use of land cover maps for time periods that poorly matched some animal locations, use of locations instead of the individual animal as the sampling unit, and failure to account for telemetry error. To address all but the first of these concerns, we analyzed over 57,000 radiolocations of 100 Florida panthers and 8 introduced Texas cougars (Puma concolor stanlyana) collected from 1981 to 2003 using a Euclidean distance-based analysis (EDA), a technique that measures linear distances between telemetry locations and habitat types to determine nonrandom habitat use. We matched panther locations to 1 of 3 land cover maps reflecting cover conditions spanning 23 years to determine second- and third-order habitat selection. Panthers selected a mosaic of habitats when establishing a home range, and selected forests and avoided open wetlands within their home range. We recommend that managers give forests highest consideration when conserving this endangered species and suggest the further evaluation of the habitat value of natural openings that occur in close proximity to forested panther range.
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Vol. 70 • No. 6