Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Michael L. Shelley, PhD


The Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) (Picoides borealis) is classified as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 due to habitat fragmentation and prescribed burn suppression. Given the endangerment of the RCW, the genetic variation of the small populations will decrease over time due to random genetic drift. The only method of battling the negative effects of random genetic drift is to move, or translocate, genetically diverse birds into the fragmented populations thereby increasing the genetic diversity of the small populations. The objective of this research effort was to explore the effects of random genetic drift on small RCW populations, place bounds on those effects, and finally determine the most efficient management strategies to be used in different situations. A model, representing the RCW and their longleaf ecosystem, is simulated over 75 years (75 RCW generations) and the management practices are monitored for up to 300 years. A study of the model results shows that ecosystem managers need to rethink their methods of managing endangered populations. Instead of focusing on the quality of the physical habitat using land management techniques, the model suggests that when the population low in numbers, translocation is the only management technique capable of restoring the endangered population.

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