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Tropical Conservation Science
June 2010 | Vol. 3 | Issue 2 | pages 117-227

Measuring population growth around tropical protected areas: current issues and solutions | pages 117-121
Lucas N. Joppa, Scott. R. Loarie and Andrew Nelson

Do nature reserves attract human settlement? That answer to that question is hugely controversial amongst those who decide when, where, and how to conserve tropical biodiversity. If reserves attract people they may create a sort of “Conservation Catch-22”, accelerating their isolation and bringing closer threats such as illegal logging and poaching. Yet if they drive people away, there is a risk of elevating conservation above human welfare. A paper in the journal Tropical Conservation Science sheds light on this issue, and indicates a promising way forward for tropical conservation. It is true that human populations around many tropical forest protected areas have increased. But, did these protected areas actually draw settlements to them, or were the settlements a more passive process? Two recent studies addressing this issue came to opposite conclusions. The lead author of the current paper, Dr. Lucas Joppa, says that the reason for the discrepancy is straightforward. “The global data available for human population counts are simply insufficient for the task”, he said. Hope is not lost, however. Information from numerous detailed case-studies of protected areas can be combined for insight. Even better are increasingly available satellite images. Data on deforestation and other human settlement proxies are globally available, have high resolution, and span lengthy periods of time. “This question has no one-size-fits-all answer”, says Dr. Joppa, “but by properly using available data we should be able to hone in on reserves around the world with significant human conflict”.

Parks, people and pixels: evaluating landscape effects of an East African national park on its surroundings | pages 122-142
Jane Southworth, Joel Hartter, Michael W. Binford, Abraham Goldman, Colin A. Chapman, Lauren J. Chapman, Patrick Omeja and Elizabeth Binford

Tropical forests worldwide are disappearing rapidly, and without adequate protection much of the world’s tropical biological diversity may not survive. Parks are important mechanisms to protect and maintain threatened or endangered flora and fauna. However, most forest parks have become ecosystem remnants. These same areas that are rich in biological diversity also represent reservoirs of land, resources, and economic opportunity for people. Kibale National Park, a moist tropical forest along the equator in western Uganda is particularly important for conservation because it contains 12 species of primates, including the endangered chimpanzee, the highest known concentration of butterflies in the world, and many fish and bird species, some of which found only in Kibale. Kibale’s setting is an example of rapid population growth, high population density, and heavy reliance on subsistence agriculture, and land shortage that has led to park isolation. Therefore, it is particularly valuable to conservationists, park managers, and scientists to understand how Kibale has fared over time and whether the park has remained intact despite heavy land conversion outside its borders. To do this, we used satellite imagery to assess vegetation change inside and outside the park. Satellite imagery allows us to efficiently observe and monitor the changes that have occurred over time, over a large area. We find Kibale’s borders have been maintained and that there is no large-scale encroachment and loss for forest in the park. Outside the park there was a significant increase in tea plantations and farmland, causing further forest and wetland conversion.

Asian elephant Elephas maximus habitat use and ranging in fragmented rainforest and plantations in the Anamalai Hills, India. | pages 143-158
M. Ananda Kumar, Divya Mudappa, and T. R. Shankar Raman

The Asian elephant, a charismatic large mammal and cultural icon, is a wide-ranging species threatened by fragmentation of their habitats in many Asian countries. As habitats shrink and fragment, elephants are forced to range into human-modified areas including crop fields, plantations, and settlements, raising the potential for conflicts with people. Understanding how elephants use habitats outside protected areas and move through human use areas is critical to promote strategies for human-elephant coexistence in such altered landscapes. In this study from the Valparai plateau in the Anamalai Hills of southern India, scientists followed movements of elephant herds through a landscape dominated by tea, coffee, and Eucalyptus plantations, interspersed with natural vegetation in the form of rainforest fragments and riparian vegetation. Although, these natural vegetation remnants occupied a small fraction of the landscape, elephants strongly preferred riparian vegetation and rainforest fragments and avoided large tracts of tea monoculture and other habitats such as swamps and settlements, particularly during the day. At night, elephants moved through tea between natural refuges but still showed preference for riverine vegetation and avoidance of other habitats including human habitation. Coffee and Eucalyptus were important plantation habitats used by elephants in the wet and dry seasons, respectively. The concentration of herds along a major river course in the plateau suggests the critical influence that water and forage have on elephant ranging pattern. The study indicates that protection remnant natural and riparian vegetation, restoring habitat connectivity, and regulations on felling of Eucalyptus plantations would help facilitate elephant movements while minimizing conflicts from direct encounters between human and elephants in such fragmented tropical landscapes.

Use of invertebrates in popular medicine in Brazil and implications for conservation | pages 159-174
Rômulo R. N. Alves e Thelma L. P. Dias

Animal-based remedies constitute an integral part of Brazilian Traditional Medicine both in rural and urban areas in Brazil. Nevertheless, the use of animal species as remedies, although representing an important component of traditional medicine has been much less studied than medicinal plants in the country. The present study is a review of the information on medicinal invertebrates in Brazil. The result reveals that at least 81 species of invertebrates from five taxonomic groups are used for the treatment of different illnesses in Brazil. The groups with the greatest number of species were insects (n=41 species), mollusks (n=17) and crustaceans (n=16). This results stress the importance of medicinal invertebrates as therapeutic alternative. Some of the traded animals are listed in the Brazilian list of threatened species. This suggests an urgent need to consider zootherapy in the context of biodiversity conservation in Brazil. Conservation efforts should not only be directed to endangered species but also to those species whose use is widespread in the country. Aparta from biological aspects, economical and sociocultural factors influence the relationship of the people and the zootherapy resources usage. Hence, new studies on the medicinal fauna of Brazil will result in a better understanding of this form of traditional therapy linking ecological, cultural and pharmacological aspects.

Demographic structure and seasonal movements of the common hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius Linné 1758 in the biosphere reserve of Mare aux Hippopotamus in southern Burkina Faso | pages 175-189
Théophile Ollo Dibloni, Cédric Vermeulen, Wendengoudi Guenda et Millogo Nicolas Alfred

One of the last populations of hippopotamus in Burkina Faso live in the “Mare aux Hippopotames” Biosphere Reserve. The fragmented characteristic of their distribution in this country pleads for a site by site conservation which must be based on the knowledge of their numbers. Study on “the demographic structure and the seasonal movements of common hippopotamus populations” come within the scope of this perspective. Its consists in knowing the number of hippopotamus and their structure according to age groups in determining rest and mobility area and in locating areas of safety and migration. The methodology consisted of monitoring and inventorying the hippopotamus inside the reserve during three consecutive years (2006, 2007 and 2008). The inventories allow to list in 2008, 41 hippopotamus divided into 3 distinct herds. Among these hippopotamus, we had 32 adults, 5 subadults and 4 youngsters. Their areas of rest in the pond varied according to years. Study allows identifying and map-make 8 exit sites on each pond banks, 8 pastures and 4 temporary migration ponds for these mammals. Study also stressed that during their migration, these mammals often destroyed fields for their feeding. To minimize the man-hippopotamus conflicts, it is urgent to negotiate a zoning for agricultural activity and give these four ponds a particular status of preservation. The valuation of ecotourism industry and the development a community management hunting area, at the reserve periphery should allow the forestry administration and the local populations to work together for a better preservation of the reserve in general and for hippopotamus in particular.

Endemic Freshwater mollusks of Cuba and their conservation status | pages 190-199
Antonio Alejandro Vázquez Perera and Susana Perera Valderrama

The Cuban Archipelago is one of the hot spots of mollusk diversity in the world, and it is called sometimes the Paradise of Malacologists. However, despite the species richness showed by the marine and land mollusks, the freshwater species are scarcer. But the number of endemics in relation to the total number of described species (23.8%) is considerable. It has been found however, that their conservation is not a priority in any of the protected areas established in the country. According to a Gap Study carried out using data from the National System of Protected Areas and the Laboratory of Malacology (Tropical Medicine Institute) only 24 species of freshwater mollusks out of 42 occur within the limits of protected areas. There are 10 endemic species described and three are not protected. These species might be threatened by several causes such as an increasing habitat loss due to population growth and the construction of tourism installations near their natural populations. Also, the introduction of exotic species is having a negative impact on their relatives’ native mollusks. Invasive snails like the thiarids are shrinking the populations of some endemic species probably by means of interspecific competition for food and space. According to these data, most of the endemic reported species might be threatened or vulnerable. More protected areas must be proposed in places where these species live. This will surely contribute to the preservation of freshwater mollusks in Cuba.

Distribución de primates en Bolivia y áreas prioritarias para su conservación | pages 200-209
Nohelia I. Mercado and Robert B. Wallace

Bolivia is a megadiverse country harboring a rich assemblage of mammals, including 22 species of primates, but populations of many of them are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, local hunting and illegal trade. In their paper Mercado and Wallace indicate that adequate country-wide conservation planning needs to identify priority areas based on primate species richness and rarity patterns. To ascertain this, they modeled the potential distribution of population of the 22 species in the country. They note that the northwest and the Pando department of Bolivia are critical areas for primate conservation because they contain the highest diversity of species, including species with the highest rarity score, such as Callimico goeldii, Cebuella pygmaea and Saguinus imperator, and Western Beni where Callicebus olallae and Callicebus modestus. two Bolivian endemic species occur.

Vertebrate assemblage at a fruiting fig (Ficus caulocarpa) in Maliau basin, Malaysia | pages 218-227
Rachakonda Sreekar, Nghiem Thi Phuong Le, Rhett D. Harrison

Figs fruit year round in tropical forests and hence are available to fruit-eating animals when other more seasonal fruit are scarce. For this reason, fig fruit are often refer to as keystone resources and are fed on by very large proportion of vertebrate species in tropical forests (up to 42 % of bird and 73 % of mammal species in Borean forests). However, fruit-eating animals are also vulnerable to hunting and are increasingly difficult to observe at natural levels of abundance. We had the opportunity to study the community of fruit-eaters at a large Ficus caulocarpa individual in a remote undisturbed forest in Borneo. We found that Ficus caulocarpa, which has very small figs, was particularly important in the diet of small birds, but less so for larger birds and mammals. These results suggest that fig – fruit-eater interactions may be more specialized than was previously thought based on reports from more disturbed sites in Asia. In addition, 34% of the birds we observed are ranked by the IUCN as threatened or more severely at risk, indicating figs may be an important resource for many endangered species. Thus, we suggest the conservation value of smaller reserves and degraded forest could be enhanced by planting fig seedlings. We also suggest that brief observations at fruiting fig trees, as we conducted, may be an efficient method for assessing how intact the fruit-eater community is, and by extension whether a reserve is well protected or not.

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Volume 3: Issue 2
Table of Contents

Estrada & Butler
Joppa et al
Southworth et al
Kumar et al
Alves & Dias
Dibloni et al
Perera & Valderrama
Mercado & Wallace
Sreekar et al

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