A NEW FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATING POTENTIAL HABITAT OF THE SALT MARSH HARVEST MOUSE
|Carla L Angulo; email@example.com; Dr. Katherine R. Smith, Melissa Riley, Sadie Trombley, Monica Zhang|
The endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris; SMHM) is endemic to the marshes of the San Francisco Estuary. This species is actively managed as a habitat specialist dependent on tidal marshes dominated by pickleweed (Salicornia pacifica). In reality, their realized niche is much broader, and recent research has continued to reveal flexibility in their habitat requirements. However, an abundance of research failed to accurately identify the primary constituent elements that determine occupancy and abundance throughout the species range. This lack of a more nuanced understanding of habitat requirements causes challenges for biologists attempting to evaluate the potential for SMHM occupancy at many sites, and presence is often assumed if any pickleweed marsh occurs. Based on recent demographic, diet, and habitat use data we propose that SMHM persistence is dependent upon four primary constituent elements-foraging habitat, refuge habitat, nesting habitat, and dispersal habitat – and describe here the essential characteristics of each of these elements. It is our hope that a standardized framework for evaluating these essential characteristics will provide biologists the tools they need to assess areas of potential SMHM occupancy in a more efficient, effective, and consistent manner, which can streamline permitting decisions and recovery plans.