Vegetation within the Cape Sable seaside sparrow's Breeding Habitat
(Western sub-population only)

Click on the names of vegetation in the image below to view vegetation descriptions

Vegetation and Sparrow Habitat The Cape Sable seaside sparrow breeds in the marl and mixed-marl prairies of the Everglades. Currently, the sparrow's range is limited to three sub-populations - designated by the three red rectangles in the figure at right. Two of the populations (i.e., the eastern population & the core population) are located along the eastern edge of the Shark River Slough. The other sub-population occurs along the western edge of the Shark River Slough.

The breeding habitat of the Cape Sable seaside sparrow is being encroached upon by two different habitat types. These vegetation types proliferate either under wetter conditions (i.e., increasing water levels) than the marl prairies can tolerate or under conditions in which fire is suppressed. The two species that are able to increase with increasing water availability are Sawgrass and Spike Rush. An additional species that is able to take hold under wetter conditions is an algae, periphyton.

Marl and mixed-marl prairies, while susceptible to increased water levels also change in species composition when fire is suppressed in the Everglades. Ideal breeding habitat for the Cape Sable Sparrow needs burning every four to ten years. If the marl prairies are burnt too often then species associated with marl prairies do not have time to recover and provide adequate breeding habitat. If the stands are burnt less frequently then every decade, pine stands are able to encroach and take over marl prairie habitat.


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Marl Prairies Mixed-Marl Prairies Saw Grass Spike Rush Pine Stands