Evaluation of Techniques for Initial Restoration of Ocelot Habitat

As a result of agricultural, urban, and industrial development of native thorn-shrub communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, < 1% of south Texas supports habitat for the endangered ocelot (Felis pardalis). We evaluated techniques that could facilitate restoration of ocelot habitat. Texas ebony (Pithecellobium flexicaule), granjeno (Celtis pallidd), lotebush (Ziziphus obtusifolia), and whitebrush (Aloysia gratissima) seedlings were planted in 3 4-ha plots at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Cameron County, Texas. Mean stem height did not differ (P > 0.05) among species for the clipped-weeded, clipped-nonweeded, and control treatments. All species of seedlings planted in 60-cm tall plastic shelters grew taller than seedlings planted in 30-cm plastic shelters (P < 0.01). Control granjeno seedlings had lower survival than the non-weeded 30-cm shelter and the weeded and non-weeded 60-cm shelter treatments (P < 0.01). Whitebrush seedlings planted in 60-cm shelters had higher survival (P < 0.01) than unsheltered seedlings. Plastic 30-cm and 60-cm tall shelters enhanced growth and survival of thorn-shrub species and may shorten seedling establishment periods. Consequently, shelters can accelerate reestablishment of ocelot habitat.

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