Over the last two decades, declines in trap success, stick-nest density and population density estimates have fueled concerns that the federally endangered Key Largo woodrat (KLWR, Neotoma floridana smalli) population is declining. Information on the current population status and habitat selection of KLWR is needed in the recovery of this population. We trapped on 60 (1-ha) randomly-placed grids (20 grids in each of three hardwood hammock age-classes). Grids were trapped from March–September 2002 and April–August 2004. Population estimates for the two trapping periods were 106 (95% ci 30–182) and 40 (95% ci 5–104) individuals, respectively. Greater than 80% of all KLWRs captures occurred in the young hammock age-classes (disturbed after 1971). Young hammocks were characterized by a more open canopy, smaller overstory trees, fewer logs, greater dispersion of overstory trees and a different species composition than old and medium age hammocks (P < 0.024). Contrary to previous research, KLWRs were found to nest in rock piles and garbage piles more than other materials. Results from this study suggest the KLWR population is critically low and management efforts should focus on the creation and restoration of young hammock habitats.
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Vol. 155 • No. 1