Targeting Potential Conservation Sites for Swallow-tailed Kites (Elanoides forficatus) in Levy County, Florida

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The Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) is facing population declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation across much of its remnant range. Current population estimates suggest that fewer than 5000 of these graceful birds of prey remain, with 60-65% of the population breeding in Florida during the summer months. Levy County, Florida, is a known “hot spot” for kites and serves as the focal area for this project. The goal of this study is to provide an objective, science-based approach for prioritizing areas for kite conservation, as it is critical that conservation resources be used efficiently.

Using a species specific habitat model and county tax mapping data, nine ecological and socio-economic criteria were developed in GIS for inclusion in the prioritization scheme. A multi-criteria compromise analysis was performed to calculate a conservation score for each parcel, effectively ranking the parcels in terms of their value for kite conservation. The mean score of the parcels under consideration was 19.6, with 94 parcels scoring greater than 70. Parcels that have already been conserved scored significantly higher (mean = 44.8), which indicates that the conservation areas in Levy County are protecting habitat suitable for Swallow-tailed Kites.

The criteria ranking and weighting schemes used for this analysis can be easily modified to meet the needs and goals of different end-users. Cooperative management, land acquisitions, conservation easements, and landowner partnerships are a few examples of conservation actions that may benefit this imperiled species. This parcel prioritization scheme, designed specifically for Swallow-tailed Kites, provides an analytical approach for planning such conservation efforts.





Gruber, Julia (2009). Targeting Potential Conservation Sites for Swallow-tailed Kites (Elanoides forficatus) in Levy County, Florida. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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