Date of this Version
Nesbitt, S.A., and J.L. Hatchitt. Trends in habitat and population of Florida sandhill cranes. In: Folk, MJ and SA Nesbitt, eds. 2008. Proceedings of the Tenth North American Crane Workshop, Feb. 7-10, 2006, Zacatecas City, Zacatecas, Mexico: North American Crane Working Group. pp. 40-41.
To map the areas of potential occupied habitat for Florida sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis pratensis) in Florida we used known habitat requirements and confirmed locations of occurrence in combination with a Geographic Information System. Using the map of potential habitat resulting from this process, we calculated the changes in the amount and distribution of crane habitat in Florida in 10-year increments since 1974. Based on annual home range sizes, age structure, and average flock size, we estimated the statewide population of Florida sandhill cranes in 2003 to be 4,594 individuals. Considering the area of crane habitat lost since 1974, this is 2,548 fewer cranes than should have been present in 2003. Suitable habitat declined an average of 16.6% during each of the 10-year increments between 1974 and 2003. Without a concerted effort to preserve and manage habitat for sandhill cranes in Florida, the species will not continue to be as common or as widely distributed as it is today.