Reproductive success, territory size, and predation pressures of the Florida scrub-jay (<i>Aphelocoma coerulescens</i>) at Savannas Preserve State Park
The Florida Scrub-jay is found only in the fire-dependent xeric oak communities of Florida. The number of scrub-jays statewide has been in steady decline over the past century due to the habitat loss resulting from urban development and the aging of xeric oak scrub caused by fire suppression policies. This study looks how aging of the scrub has affected scrub-jays at the Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The population of scrub-jays at Savannas has been in decline over the past eight years. This study revealed that they are occupying territories that are much smaller than the normal optimal size and are having minimal reproductive success. In addition, the birds are subjected to predation pressures from natural predators present at higher than normal densities and by other predators brought into their habitat by encroaching urban development. The implementation of an aggressive prescribed fire program to restore their habitat is crucial to the long-term survival of this population of Florida Scrub-jays.