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Title: Informing tropical mammal conservation in human-modified landscapes using remote technologies and hierarchical modelling
Author: Deere, Nicolas J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 5741
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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The aggressive expansion of anthropogenic activities is placing increasing pressure on biodiversity, particularly in tropical regions. Here, conservation efforts are hindered by poor understanding of species ecology and the failure of policy instruments to account for multiple stressors of land-use change. While protected areas are central to conservation strategies, there is a general consensus that the future of tropical biodiversity will be determined by how well modified landscapes are managed. In this thesis I advance our understanding of biodiversity persistence in modified tropical landscapes to inform emerging incentive-based policy mechanisms and supply-chain initiatives. Capitalising on recent advances in remote-sensing and hierarchical occupancy modelling, I provide a spatial appraisal of biodiversity in a modified landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Fieldwork was conducted at the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project, a large-scale landscape modification experiment, comprising a degradation gradient of old growth forest, selectively logged forest, remnant forest patches and oil palm plantations. The assessment focused on camera-trapping of tropical mammals, as they are sensitive to anthropogenic stressors, occupy key trophic positions, and prioritised in conservation. In Chapter 2 I link mammal occupancy data to airborne multispectral remote-sensing information to show how the conservation value of modified landscapes is dictated by the intensity of the underlying land-use. Logged forests retained appreciable levels of mammal diversity, and oil palm areas were largely devoid of forest specialists and threatened taxa. Moreover, many mammal species disproportionately occupied forested areas that retained old growth structural characteristics. The most influential structural measures accounted for vertical and horizontal components in environmental space, which cannot currently be derived from conventional satellite data. Using a novel application of ecological threshold analysis, I demonstrate how multispectral data and multi-scale occupancy models can help identify conservation and restoration areas in degraded forests. In Chapter 3 I assess the potential for carbon-orientated policy mechanisms (High Carbon Stock, HCS, Approach and REDD+) to prioritise high carbon areas with corresponding biodiversity value in highly modified landscapes. The areas of highest carbon value prioritised via HCS supported comparable species diversity to old growth forest. However, the strength, nature and extent of the biodiversity co-benefit was dependent on how carbon was characterised, the spatial resolution of carbon data, and the species considered. In Chapter 4 I further scrutinised HCS protocols to evaluate how well they delineated high priority forest patches that safeguard species most vulnerable to land-use change (i.e. IUCN threatened species). The minimum core area required to define a high priority patch (100 ha) supported only 35% of the mammal community. In fact the core area criterion would need to increase to 3,199 ha in order to sustain intact mammal assemblages, and an order of magnitude higher if hunting pressure was considered. These findings underline the importance of integrating secondary disturbance impacts into spatial conservation planning. Provided landscape interventions are directed to where they will have the greatest impact, they can be financially sustaining and garner local support for conservation. To this end I provide recommendations to guide policy implementation in modified tropical landscapes to support holistic conservation strategies.
Supervisor: Struebig, Matthew ; Davies, Zoe Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available