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Rising Sea Levels Means Shrinking Habitat for Endangered Rabbits

Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Marsh rabbit

Photo by Tomfriedel.

The Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) is an endangered wild rabbit living in the Florida Keys. Subtle changes in sea levels have deeply affected their access to suitable habitat. Now, only a few hundred rabbits remain on just a few of the keys, including Boca Chica, Sugarloaf and Big Pine. Increased development on their habitat exacerbates the problem, as it blocks the rabbits from moving inland and it also limits the vegetation necessary to the rabbits’ survival from spreading inland.

According to Jeff Gore, a statewide wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Obviously, it’s already having an effect on the marsh rabbit, but in a state like Florida with so much coastline and so many endangered species, it’s going to be a major concern for decades to come.”

Read more at Science Blog.