Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Human disturbance has diverse effects on mammal distribution in Gamba

A new study published in this month’s Conservation Biology by our colleagues at the Smithsonian Institute shows that roads and other human disturbances have diverse effects on mammal distribution, with positive as well as negative impacts.
The team set up line transects near roads in areas of different levels of human disturbance, including industrial activities, hunting, agriculture and urbanization, in and around Gamba town and the Shell Concessions south of Moukalaba-Doudou NP. They used a mixture of signs counted on transects, camera trapping events and presence/absence indicators to record the distribution of 17 medium to large mammal species (or groups of species) ranging from giant pouched rats to elephants. They also measured a wide range of variables related to the ecosystem, human disturbance and roads. Their results showed that the pattern of association of mammals with roads and other human disturbances was diverse and included positive as well as negative associations. Main roads had negative associations with buffalo, elephants, gorilla, and sitatunga, but positive or neutral associations with the abundance of red river hog, some monkeys and duikers, which is contrary to some other recent studies. Agriculture had positive associations with situatunga, small carnivores and large rodents. Surprisingly, elephant distribution was not affected by distance to plantations, indicating that plantations are probably not an important food source for elephants in that area. Overall the authors concluded that mammals were mostly affected by hunting, agriculture, and urbanization, which are facilitated by road presence.

Vanthomme H, Kolowski J, Korte L, Alonso A (2013) Distribution of a community of mammals in relation to roads and other human disturbances in Gabon, central Africa. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology 27(2): 281-291.

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