Identifying critical limits in oil palm cover for the conservation of terrestrial mammals in Colombia

Pardo Vargas, Lain E., de Oliveira Roque, Fabio, Campbell, Mason J., Younes, Nicolas, Edwards, Will, and Laurance, William F. (2018) Identifying critical limits in oil palm cover for the conservation of terrestrial mammals in Colombia. Biological Conservation, 227. pp. 65-73.

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As oil palm plantations continue to expand in Neotropical regions, identifying critical transitions in land use, at which animal communities can be drastically altered, is crucial for conservation planning. Here, we investigated potential unexpected change points (thresholds) in the response of terrestrial mammal's richness and community composition to increasing oil palm cover in the Llanos region of Colombia. We deployed camera traps to detect species across 56 sites (landscapes of ~220 ha each) and used segmented regression and Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis (TITAN) for the identification of these thresholds. We found a negative linear relationship between the proportion of oil palm and species richness, but no evidence of a threshold. In contrast, we found strong signs of a community threshold when oil palm cover in the study area reached 45–75%, at which mammalian species composition (taxon-specific changes of abundance and occurrence frequency) drastically changed. When species were assessed individually, a significant threshold relationship to oil palm cover was found to occur in 10 of the 15 examined species, with four (squirrel, agouti, spiny rat, common opossum) having a negative drastic change at approximately 45% oil palm cover. Five species showed no evidence for any critical threshold (giant and lesser anteater, jaguarondi, white-tailed deer and raccoon). We used the community threshold identified above as a baseline to evaluate the conservation status of the four oil palm production zones in Colombia. We found that approximately 41% of the total area covered by oil palm in Colombia has crossed the identified threshold of 45–75%, suggesting urgent need for forest restoration to increase its extent if a collapse of their resident mammal communities is to be avoided. These findings provide guidance for the design of sustainable landscapes within production areas in Colombia to promote the conservation of terrestrial mammals.

Item ID: 55359
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: carnivores; human-dominated landscape; llanos; riparian forest; threshold; tipping point
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Pardo Vargas, Lain Efrén (2018) Diversity and habitat use of medium-large sized mammals across oil palm landscapes in the Llanos region of Colombia. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2018 23:03
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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