Easily Overlooked: Modelling coastal dune habitat occupancy of threatened and endangered beach mice (Peromyscus polionotus spp.) using high-resolution aerial imagery and elevation models of the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Item TypeGraduate Thesis
AdvisorEvans, Kristine O.
Embargo TypeVisible to MSU only for 6 months
Embargo Lift Date2021-05-15
The Gulf of Mexico dune system is a broad and dynamic environment that varies greatly in geomorphology and vegetative composition across the Gulf coastline. Beach mice (Peromyscus polionotus spp.) are an endangered species that rely on coastal habitat structure. I hypothesized that beach mouse occupancy would be dependent upon coastal dune land cover and landform features. I identified coastal landforms using high-resolution elevation data and landform models in GRASS GIS and identified coastal dune vegetation classes using high-resolution aerial imagery and object oriented vegetation classification. These features were used to create a dynamic occupancy model to determine occupancy patterns in three subspecies of beach mice over multiple years of sampling. Beach mice demonstrated no distinct pattern in habitat occupancy over the study period. However, dynamic occupancy models demonstrated that habitat occupancy varied between individual sites, indicating that habitat selection may be population specific.