• The Anastasia Island beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus phasma) is a small rodent that lives in the sand dunes and adjacent scrub and hammock habitats of the barrier islands of Florida’s Atlantic Ocean coast near Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city. The barrier islands in this area are partly protected areas for conservation and partly built up by humans. Where there is available habitat, the mice will create burrows in the dunes for shelter and food storage. They have also been observed to inhabit abandoned ghost crab burrows. The mice feed on plants such as sea oats and coastal grasses, as well as small invertebrates.

    Barrier islands in the southeastern United States face continued pressure for commercial and residential development, as well as threats from sea-level rise, intensified storm events and increased frequency of hurricanes. Predation from cats and other introduced domestic animals is also problematic for the mice.

    Anastasia Island beach mice are just one subspecies of beach mouse found throughout much of the southeastern United States. It is considered endangered due to its limited habitat and range by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

    1. How does sea-level rise affect the available habitat for the Anastasia Island beach mouse?

      Sea-level rise threatens to flood coastal barrier islands, which would erase the available habitat for the Anastasia Island beach mouse.

    2. How does human recreational activity in sand dune habitats where the Anastasia Island beach mouse live affect their health and well-being?

      Anastasia Island beach mice make their burrows in sand dunes. When humans walk, run, or jump on these dunes, it can cause catastrophic damage to mouse burrows and degrade the available habitat for the mice.

    3. Does the west coast of the United States have a similar frequency of barrier islands along the coast like the east coast of the United States?

      No, the west coast of the contiguous United States (including California, Oregon, and Washington) does not have barrier islands like the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. This has to do with the bathymetric relief of the seafloor that is steeper along the west coast.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    barrier island Noun

    long, narrow strip of sandy land built up by waves and tides that protects the mainland shore from erosion.

    bathymetry Noun

    measurement of depths of bodies of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bathymetry
    commercial Adjective

    having to do with the buying and selling of goods and services.

    endangered species Noun

    organism threatened with extinction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species
    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    hardwood hummock Noun

    area of land slightly higher in elevation than the surrounding land and covered with hardwood trees, shrubs, palms, and ferns. Also called a hardwood hammock.

    invertebrate Noun

    animal without a spine.

    relief Noun

    the difference in elevation between areas of a specific region.

    residential Adjective

    having to do with people's homes.

    scrub Noun

    area of arid grassland covered with low-lying trees and bushes.