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Tiffanie Atherton



Advisors:  Dr. Clay Nielsen and Dr. Ed Heist

Demographics and Status of Eastern Woodrats in Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois’ eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana illinoensis) population underwent a recovery program beginning in 2003 after being classified as a state endangered species. Over a six-year time period, more than 400 Eastern woodrats were collected and relocated from the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas to southern Illinois. Recent surveys support that the species’ population has increased, but it is unknown if the introduced individuals were indeed the same subspecies. To make this problem more complex, a super derecho occurring in 2009 altered the habitat to better benefit the woodrat population.

The goals of my study include the following:

  1. Determine if the introduced individuals between 2003 and 2009 are a separate subspecies from the 2003 remnant population of Illinois’ woodrats.
  2. Evaluate if and to what degree the introduced and remnant populations have interbred.
  3. Discover whether the introduction of additional individuals, the 2009 habitat improvement, or a combination of both is responsible for the recent increase in southern Illinois’ woodrat population.