1 Tahrcountry Musings: Understanding factors that promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in working landscapes

Friday, June 03, 2016

Understanding factors that promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in working landscapes

Conserving tigers in working landscapes
Pranav Chanchani,Barry R. Noon,Larissa L. Bailey and  Rekha A. Warrier
Conservation Biology,Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 649–660, June 2016

Here is a good paper that deals with the complexities of conserving tigers in working landscapes. This is an abstract of the paper. Usually I make changes when posting. Here I have retained the words of the authors as far as possible to maintain what the authors intend.

Tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation efforts in Asia are focused on protected areas embedded in human-dominated landscapes. A system of protected areas is an effective conservation strategy for many endangered species if the network is large enough to support stable metapopulations. The long-term conservation of tigers requires that the species be able to meet some of its life-history needs beyond the boundaries of small protected areas and within the working landscape, including multiple-use forests with logging and high human use. However, understanding of factors that promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in working landscapes is incomplete. The researchrs assessed the relative influence of protection status, prey occurrence, extent of grasslands, intensity of human use, and patch connectivity on tiger occurrence in the 5400 km2 Central Terai Landscape of India, adjacent to Nepal. Two observer teams independently surveyed 1009 km of forest trails and water courses distributed across 60 166-km2 cells. In each cell, the teams recorded detection of tiger signs along evenly spaced trail segments. The researchers used occupancy models that permitted multiscale analysis of spatially correlated data to estimate cell-scale occupancy and segment-scale habitat use by tigers as a function of management and environmental covariates. Prey availability and habitat quality, rather than protected-area designation, influenced tiger occupancy. Tiger occupancy was low in some protected areas in India that were connected to extensive areas of tiger habitat in Nepal, which brings into question the efficacy of current protection and management strategies in both India and Nepal. At a finer spatial scale, tiger habitat use was high in trail segments associated with abundant prey and large grasslands, but it declined as human and livestock use increased. The researchers speculate that riparian grasslands may provide tigers with critical refugia from human activity in the daytime and thereby promote tiger occurrence in some multiple-use forests. Restrictions on human-use in high-quality tiger habitat in multiple-use forests may complement existing protected areas and collectively promote the persistence of tiger populations in working landscapes.

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