Date of this Version
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2014) 21:10399–10406 DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-2956-y.
Feral swine are estimated to annually cost hundreds of millions of dollars in economic loss to property and agriculture in the USA, while their ecological consequences remain largely unmeasured. Using submeter-accurate Global Positioning System technology over a multiyear project, we are quantifying in a novel way the spatial and temporal attributes of swine rooting damage within 587 ha of ecologically sensitive wetland plant communities at Avon Park Air Force Range in south-central Florida. We delineated damage polygons from 0.0023 to 4,335 m2 and were able to document recurrent damage through time at most sites during each assessment. For each polygon, we also estimated the age of damage and assigned to it a severity index, qualities of the rooting in which we detected changes in proportions over time. Spatially explicit damage assessments at fine scales conducted over several years can assist land managers in determining effects of rooting on rare plant populations, and will allow investigators to hypothesize what factors are driving patterns of this disturbance across ecologically sensitive plant communities.