Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Biology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Randall FitzGerald

Committee Member

Lisa Hazard

Committee Member

Scott Kight

Subject(s)

Allegheny wood rat

Abstract

Allegheny woodrats (Neotoma magister) once ranged throughout most of the eastern United States, however in recent years their populations have experienced dramatic declines. Several mutually inclusive hypotheses may explain the decline of the woodrat populations, including habitat fragmentation and disturbance, decreased food availability, and increased exposure to the deadly raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis). Select historic locations were evaluated for habitat characteristics, the prevalence of raccoon roundworm and the presence of predators and competitors, in order to evaluate the impacts of each of the three hypotheses. The results indicated that raccoon roundworm and decreased hard mast availability are the main drivers behind the extirpation of Allegheny woodrats at the four surveyed historic sites. Finally, each site was characterized and evaluated for its potential for future woodrat reintroductions. It is recommended that future research evaluates the remaining historic locations in New Jersey, in order to determine state-wide factors associated with the decline of Allegheny woodrat populations.

Included in

Biology Commons

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