A new study published in the journal “Diversity & Distributions”, provides evidence that large-scale systematic surveys and novel methods of data collection and analysis, are necessary to assess the extent and distribution of poaching and its impact on biodiversity in forest exposed to severe defaunation.
A new study published in the journal “Diversity & Distributions”, provides evidence that large-scale systematic surveys and novel methods of data collection and analysis, are necessary to assess the extent and distribution of poaching and its impact on biodiversity in forest exposed to severe defaunation. Mapping biodiversity in this way will provide information critical to protecting rare species that may still exist in these landscapes. The research was conducted in the Annamite mountains on the border of Laos and Vietnam, an area with an exceptionally high occurrence of endemic species that is threatened by illegal poaching through the setting of wire snares. The research team, led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), comprised scientists, conservationists and government counterparts, including representatives from WWF-Vietnam and WWF-Laos.
High levels of unsustainable hunting have decimated wildlife populations in many forests in the Annamites. This situation is not unique to Vietnam and Laos – tropical rainforests in other parts of Southeast Asia are also experiencing a similar fate. To protect wildlife communities in these areas, the researchers argue that limited conservation resources must be utilized effectively and that understanding where rare and threatened species still occur will be an important first step to identify priority areas for targeted conservation activities.
The authors provide evidence that surveying biodiversity in defaunated landscapes may require novel approaches. “By conducting systematic surveys at the landscape-scale, we were able to get a better overview of the wildlife communities and a deeper understanding of the underlying factors which influence species distribution,” said Andrew Tilker of the Leibniz-IZW and lead author of the study. “We also found that using two complementary survey methods – camera-traps and vertebrate DNA extracted from parasitic blood-sucking leeches – improved our ability to detect species, which is especially important for rare and elusive animals. We then used these data and applied advanced statistical techniques to produce maps of species distributions across the landscape – the first for the Annamites.” Ultimately, the researchers expect that biodiversity baselines established through such scientifically-robust approaches will help conservation managers to protect rare and endangered species still present in these landscapes.
Read more at Forschungsverbund Berlin
Image: This is the annamite striped rabbit. (Credit: Tilker/Wilting)