Many land-trust organizations attempt to preserve habitat that will benefit specific wildlife species or suites of species. With limited resources available, these organizations need tools to prioritize preservation efforts. One such organization, the Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy (KINHC), is attempting to preserve wildlife habitat in the face of ever-increasing property values and development pressure on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA. We modified an existing bobcat (Lynx rufus) habitat suitability index model, which focuses on suitability of habitats for food, by including components for concealment cover and den habitat. We developed a windows-based computer program that calculates modified habitat suitability index (MHSI) values that can easily be imported into a Geographic Information System for display in map form, allowing for frequent reevaluation of site-specific habitat suitability as land-cover patterns change. We used locations collected from radiocollared bobcats to assess validity of the food and cover components of the MHSI. Bobcats used areas identified as highly suitable for food more than expected during nocturnal time periods (G52 = 640.9, P < 0.001) and areas identified as highly suitable for cover more than expected during diurnal time periods (G37 = 1,194.0, P < 0.001). Our approach for evaluating bobcat habitat suitability will allow KINHC to identify parcels that likely provide the greatest ecological benefit to bobcats and their associated wildlife community. Our approach could be altered to consider habitat requirements of other species, or multiple species, at virtually any location for which fine-scale land-cover data are available.
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Vol. 74 • No. 3