Browsing Environmental Sustainability Research Centre by Subjects
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Habitat suitability, corridors and dispersal barriers for large carnivores in PolandCarnivores are often particularly sensitive to landscape fragmentation. Ecological corridors may help to connect local populations, ensuring gene flow and retaining viable meta-populations. We aimed to establish habitat suitability models for two large carnivores in Poland, the grey wolf Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758 and the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758, based on ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA). Secondly, we calculated least cost paths (LCPs) based on cost values obtained from ENFA. Thirdly, we determined structures that might act as barriers, thus diminishing the value of the corridor unless appropriate conservation measures are taken. We compared some of the results with actual dispersal data of four lynx in eastern Poland. Results indicate that both species are highly marginalised. Less habitat that is currently available in Poland is suitable for lynx than for wolves. We determined a total of 76 LCPs. Comparison of these theoretical corridors with actual dispersal routes suggests that the traits of calculated LCPs are mostly within the range of those of real routes. We highlight a variety of features that might act as barriers, such as major roads (including planned highways), urbanized areas, and large un-forested areas. We give suggestions where concerted conservation efforts (eg wildlife passages) might be particularly well-directed.
Using GPS telemetry to validate least-cost modeling of gray squirrel ( Sciurus carolinensis) movement within a fragmented landscapeIn Britain, the population of native red squirrels Sciurus vulgaris has suffered population declines and local extinctions. Interspecific resource competition and disease spread by the invasive gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis are the main factors behind the decline. Gray squirrels have adapted to the British landscape so efficiently that they are widely distributed. Knowledge on how gray squirrels are using the landscape matrix and being able to predict their movements will aid management. This study is the first to use global positioning system (GPS) collars on wild gray squirrels to accurately record movements and land cover use within the landscape matrix. This data were used to validate Geographical Information System (GIS) least-cost model predictions of movements and provided much needed information on gray squirrel movement pathways and network use. Buffered least-cost paths and least-cost corridors provide predictions of the most probable movements through the landscape and are seen to perform better than the more expansive least-cost networks which include all possible movements. Applying the knowledge and methodologies gained to current gray squirrel expansion areas, such as Scotland and in Italy, will aid in the prediction of potential movement areas and therefore management of the invasive gray squirrel. The methodologies presented in this study could potentially be used in any landscape and on numerous species.