The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is a Federally listed endangered species endemic to south Florida's Everglades. It nests near the ground in seasonally dry prairies. Consequently, the timing and depth of seasonal water flows determine its fate. With water management plans the central focus of Everglades' restoration schemes, the demography of this bird becomes central to hydrologic planning. In order to understand how its demography influences restoration options, we calculated survivorship, fecundity and dispersal within three of the sparrow's six populations. Nearly 40% of adult sparrows die from year to year. Sparrows can produce up to four broods per breeding season, and typically produce two (March to August). Females lay an average of three eggs per nest, two of which usually hatch. The success of these nests varies among populations such that nests in population E are more than four times as likely to fledge young as nests within population A. Nest success within population B is 26% early in the breeding season, but drops to 9% after the onset of summer rains in early June. Nests are built 16 to 21 cm from the soil surface making them vulnerable to water depths that exceed these values. Based on observations of marked individuals, sparrows generally remain within a 1 km area centred on their breeding grounds. We have never observed immigration between populations. A simple demographic model demonstrates that breeding success and duration appear to constrain sparrow population growth more than other demographic parameters. Maintaining suitable breeding conditions restricts water management options to those that will restore hydrological conditions to their original patterns.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation