Landscape Genetics: Western Patches

PCC patches in west Panama City
Figure 3.7. Eight different patches are located in the western part of the PCC range.

The landscape genetic analysis (Duncan et al. 2017) delineates eight different patches occurring in the western range of the PCC (Figure 3.7), as summarized below (click on a patch name to see the summary):

Shriners

The southwestern-most population, with the species centered around an active railroad track. Only secondary soils remain undeveloped, but the elevated railroad track has artificially provided a water barrier, often keeping the site ponded when all others have dried up. Maintenance for the railroad has kept the right-of-way in dense, herbaceous vegetation that is ideal for the PCC. Adjacent artificially dense slash pine stands, where burrows have been documented, make up 3.4 acres, and a mowed grass field, occupancy unconfirmed, provides 0.8 acres of habitat. All lands are in private ownership.

Survey Data: PCC captured in 2001, 2012-14, 2016-17. Numbers range from fewer than 10 up to 20, with the exception of a crayfish marking experiment conducted in May 2017 in which 42 PCC were captured in a two consecutive day survey.

Land under Easement: Railroad right-of-way is mowed (~0.20 ac) but not under conservation agreement.

Inbreeding Coefficient: 0.359

Effective Population size: 32.6

Population Isolation: Talkington is closest at 4,725 meters

Suitable habitat (acres): 29 acres but skewed some by calling Shriners parcel as developed but it is only partially and has secondary soils.

Water quality and availability: 60% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; moderate for water ranking.

Shriners survey data.
Figure 3.8. Shriners survey data.

Airport-north (AN) and Airport-south (AS)

 The northwestern-most population, Airport-north (AN) is located within the right-of-way of the historic Bay County airport adjacent the old runway. Airport-south (AS) population is located on the southern end of the airport runway buffer zone. All of the historic airport property is under private ownership and permitted for development. The Corps’ applicant, St. Andrew Bay Land Company, LLC (Stantec) requested and the Service issued a conference opinion (CO) in March 2013 for the PCC and gopher tortoises. Project is a mixed-use development comprising residential, commercial, office, and institutional land uses. The project is also permitted by FWC. The proposed project would result in the development of 606 of the site’s 684 acres. Approximately 532 acres of the 606 to be developed represent heavily disturbed areas that have been impacted by over 60 years of airport operations. The Applicant retained as part of the proposed action 95% of the onsite PCC population with a commitment to maintain, enlarge, and enhance onsite habitat for this and the Airport-south populations and expand into enhanced and restored areas with core soils. Take includes habitat associated with 4 sectional ditches that totaled 0.67 acres. The PCC still occupies all but one of these ditches. As required by the CO and FWC permit, the lands remaining for the PCC are held under a DEP conservation easement. The direct effects of the action include the permanent loss of 0.67 acres of the 1.39 acres of occupied habitat. A total of 3.17 acres in core or suitable habitat is in permanent DEP easement with management requirements (FWS 2013).

Airport-north (AN)

Survey Data: PCC discovered in 2012 and confirmed again 2016. Numbers ranged 4-20.

Land under Easement: Permit authorizes loss of 2 ditches that equal 0.45 acres; DEP easement shows 1.28 acres in core soils and 0.64 acres grassy swale. Management is required but not yet implemented.

Inbreeding coefficient: 0.214

Effective Population size: could not analyze

Population Isolation: No Least Cost Path available; complete isolation from airport development over 60 years ago.

Suitable habitat (acres): 19 acres

Water quality and availability: 56% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; moderate for water ranking.

Airport-north (AN) survey data.
Figure 3.9. Airport-north (AN) survey data.

Airport-south (AS)

Survey Data: PCC discovered in 2012, seen again in 2013, 2016. Between 10-20 PCC were captured within each ditch. Fewer than 10 were captured within the wetland easement site.

Land under Easement: Permit authorizes loss of 2 ditches equaling 0.22 acres in size; DEP conservation easement is 2.42 acres in size, but only 1.25 acres is suitable PCC habitat and protected per CO. Management is required but not yet implemented.

Inbreeding coefficient: 0.344

Effective Population size: 61.3

Population Isolation : Talkington is closest at 1,910 meters

Suitable habitat (acres): 18.57

Water quality and availability: 71 % of polygon is developed or unsuitable; low for water ranking.

Airport-south (AS) survey data.
Figure 3.10. Airport-south (AS) survey data.

Talkington

This population has the third (out of 8) highest effective population size. The PCC largely occupies the 10-acre Talkington Family Nature Preserve, with land ownership held by the Bay County Conservancy (BCC), but the conservation easement deed is held by Florida DEP (FDEP). The 10 acre tract is in pine flatwoods and also contains a cluster of pond pine trees in the center portion. Sixty one acres of core soils provide opportunity for additional land protections. The land directly south and adjacent to Talkington is believed occupied, given that PCC have been documented in the adjacent ditches. This 28 acre parcel is for sale. BCC has made offers for purchase of portions of the property but the asking price is near one million, which is not feasible for a local conservancy organization. The developed portion of land surrounding Talkington is mostly apartment buildings, residential homes, and some commercial office buildings. PCC are located in other ditches adjacent to undeveloped properties in core and secondary soils, likely indicating additional occupation by PCC. The FWS and FWC have a Management Agreement in place where gyro-tracking and mowing are used to manage the property on an every 2-3 year basis. Fire as a management tool is not allowed, given the proximity to a heavily used roadway adjacent the property (Jenks Avenue). A road widening project is proposed along Jenks Avenue that may impact the PCC and its habitat. Consultation with FWC is underway.

Survey Data: Documented on site since 2000. Other surveys recorded in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2017. Highest count in August 2012 of 42 individuals but just juveniles captured; highest adult captures occurred in March 2013 with 6 males and 3 females (21 juveniles).

Land under Easement: 10-acres Talkington Family Nature Preserve, under management; ~6.2 acres under Gulf Power ROW management.

Inbreeding coefficient: 0.310

Effective Population size: 424.5

Population Isolation: Airport-south is closest at 1,910 meters

Suitable habitat (acres): 86 acres

Water quality and availability: 48% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; moderate for water ranking.

Talkington survey data.
Figure 3.11. Talkington survey data.

City of Lynn Haven (L2)

Encompassing 44 acres of core soils, this site is largely hardwood-cypress swamp with some possibilities for improving habitat suitability along 6 acres near and adjacent to the swamp ecotone. Thirty-two acres is under easement held by FDEP, with land owned by the City of Lynn Haven. FWC and FWS have a Management Agreement with the City of Lynn Haven. Funds are lacking to move forward with restoration actions, but FWS Partners program constructed a low water crossing for access and the Coastal Program provided funds to clear the right-of-way of dense pines. Other undeveloped lands surrounding the easement consist of dense slash pine plantations. The property has deep rutting from off-road vehicles, horses, and likely logging equipment. Remaining lands include Moseley High School and residential and commercial development.

Survey Data: No voucher specimen to confirm PCC exists onsite but one possible adult female and male were reported April 2015. One juvenile collected for genetic work but insufficient information to process and due to size, identification not clear.

Land under Easement: 32 acres easement held by FDEP, land owned by City of Lynn Haven. 6 acres might be improved for a PCC population but augmentation likely needed.

Inbreeding coefficient: Insufficient data

Effective Population size: Insufficient data

Population Isolation: Not included but LCP runs through Lynn Haven between these two: direct path is 1,609 meters to Talkington and 2,092 meters to St. Joe mitigation.

Suitable habitat (acres): 85 acres

Water quality and availability: 17% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; high for water ranking.

City of Lynn haven (L2) survey data.
Figure 3.12. City of Lynn haven (L2) survey data.

Industrial

This PCC site parallels Highway 231, the primary 2 lane ingress and egress roadway to reach and leave Panama City Beach, and a Bay Line Railroad track that was completed by 1908. This location is in the industrial area of Panama City. Lands surrounding the site include Panama City Mall, Warehouse Storage, Panama Industrial, LLC, Vulcan Land, Inc., Cargill Steel and Wire, Inc., Bay Tank and Fabricating Co., Inc., and Segrest Management Inc.-a warehouse company. Only 13 acres of core soils are within the immediate ¼ mile vicinity of the PCC confirmed locations but they likely contain too much water to be ideal for the PCC. The habitat break-out labels the occupied habitats as Urban Open Land that contains core and secondary soils and amounts to 8.82 acres. There appear to be approximately 250 acres of core and secondary soils, likely with some occupancy outside of the ¼ mile vicinity of the PCC, but only limited surveys along accessible roadways have been conducted, since all are privately owned corporations. Connectivity may be one explanation for a medium inbreeding coefficient when the immediate available habitat appears limiting with only 19 available acres.

Survey Data: One of the original localities reported by Hobbs (1942) and again by the Keppners in 2000 with 2 males, 2 females, 9 juveniles; 2001 1 dug from burrow, 11 burrows seen; 2012 3 adults, 2 subadults, and in 2016, 3 adult males, 4 adult females, 1 juvenile.

Land under Easement: None

Inbreeding coefficient: 0.395

Effective Population size: Insufficient data

Population Isolation: Not included but direct line is 3,218 meters from Airport-south population.

Suitable habitat (acres): 19 acres

Water quality and availability: 83% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; low for water ranking.

Industrial survey data.
Figure 3.13. Industrial survey data.

St. Joe Mitigation

Approximately 77% of the lands within this population are located in core (231 acres) and secondary (99.6 acres) soils. These lands and an additional 200 acres outside of the one-quarter boundary are categorized as timber or improved agriculture with the likelihood of additional PCC based on similar habitat features of timber activities and soils within the population and no barriers between them. The developed surrounding properties include Lynn Haven sports complex, a church, light industrial, and residential neighborhoods. Florida DEP holds multiple conservation easements on a total 86.6 acres of pine flatwoods; the landowner is the St. Joe Company, Inc. The easement lands are managed as required by permit with either mowing or burning, but we are unsure how long the management is required. St. Joe Company, Inc., is willing to work under an agreement should we or FWC be willing to take over management activities.

Survey Data: First confirmed occupied in 2004 with 2 adult males and 8 juveniles reported; 2013 confirmed sightings, no specific numbers; two survey days in March 2016 resulted in the capture of 57 adult males, 47 adult females, 71 juvenile male, and 58 juvenile females totaling 232 PCC captured. (55:45 male:female sex ratio)

Land under Easement: 86.6 acres (~78 in core and 9 in secondary soils)

Inbreeding coefficient: 0.348, considered middle range (5 of 11 populations)

Effective Population size: 1638 reported, the highest of 8

Population Isolation: Talkington is closest at 6,283 meters

Suitable habitat (acres): 332 acres

Water quality and availability: 21% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; high for water ranking.

St. Joe Mitigation survey data.
Figure 3.14. St. Joe Mitigation survey data.

College Point

Found on a northern-central point in the PCC range, this site is seemingly isolated and likely not a viable population. It is located in a fully built out residential neighborhood. Individual PCC were captured from a small ditch that stays wet from an adjacent shrubby wetland in core soils and unmanaged conditions. Only 3.21 acres are in core soils, of which all but 0.03 acres are protected under a Bay County easement, with land ownership held by College Oaks Homeowners Association. An electric substation is located on a small portion of the easement.

Survey Data: First documented in 2012 with one individual, not found in 2013, and 1 male captured in 2016 for the genetic work.

Land under Easement: 2.99 acres of core and secondary soils under easement held by Bay County and HOA.

Inbreeding coefficient: Insufficient data

Effective Population size: Insufficient data

Population Isolation: Not included

Suitable habitat (acres): 5 acres

Water quality and availability: 95% of polygon is developed or unsuitable; low for water ranking.

College Point survey data.
Figure 3.15. College Point survey data.