Endemic birds in Papua New Guinea's montane forests: human use and conservation

Supuma, Miriam (2018) Endemic birds in Papua New Guinea's montane forests: human use and conservation. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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View at Publisher Website: https://doi.org/10.25903/5d0194ca93995
 
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Abstract

Escalating anthropogenic impacts on tropical biodiversity have amplified the vulnerability of endemic species. Selective harvesting of species is one of the major threats to birds and mammal species in the tropics. Many indigenous cultures, however, have long established cultural associations with certain species. The hunting and trade of species have been mainly for subsistence and socio-cultural ties within their communities. However, contemporary threats associated with human population increase from within such societies and externally driven demand such as wildlife trafficking exacerbate the pressure particularly for vulnerable species.

Threats to endemic tropical species are not isolated to one but often synergies between many factors simultaneously affecting changes to species distribution. In addition to immediate anthropogenic impacts such as population pressure exerted on species numbers and species habitats, there is growing evidence that demonstrates that climate change is causing shifts in species distribution. Such cases have been demonstrated in tropical island montane forests.

The island of New Guinea is the largest tropical island in the world and accommodates the third largest tropical rainforests. New Guinea has over 600 bird species (195 endemic), but some species are under threat from unsustainable hunting practices, climate change, and landscape modification. The central highlands is one of the most populous areas and has undergone thousands of years of human modification. The biodiversity of the island of New Guinea remains one of the understudied sites in the world. Looming threats necessitate an assessment of the vulnerability of species important to subsistence and culture.

This thesis addresses the need for further understanding of the vulnerability of species to anthropogenic impacts associated with hunting and trade and the effects of climate change on endemic montane species. The thesis begins by improving the contemporary understanding of trade of bird species in the central highlands (large scale) of Papua New Guinea. The contemporary costs of species traded were delineated from this study and compared to the known records over 40 years. Next, case study sites (fine scale) were conducted to understand how rural forest communities hunt and trade wildlife and the social nuances that affect their choice and locality of hunting activities. The study then uses species identified from trade and hunting to conduct a vulnerability assessment of species most at risk from selective harvesting. This assessment may also serve as a guide to conservation efforts in the central highlands. Finally, a rare endemic species, Paradisornis rudolphi (Blue Bird of Paradise) was selected from the vulnerability assessment to make predictions of its distribution change due to climate change.

Overall, this thesis demonstrates the importance of applying an interdisciplinary approach that is relevant to the region, context of culture, society, and conservation. This study suggests that vulnerable species used in culture are also at risk from effects of climate change. This information, in addition to other extrinsic factors such as land use change (not studied), is vital for conservation of the endemic montane species, as well as the persistence of cultural diversity in New Guinea.

There are limitations to this study which include the lack of a better climate model for Papua New Guinea. The species distribution model should serve as a conservative prediction of the outcome of a rare endemic species. However, even with a conservative approach, there is indication of the need for proactive approaches at the rural and national levels. A way forward would be to consider means of income generation that also support the conservation of species, such as eco-tourism. At the policy level, there is a need to revise the policy to reflect species management and the enforcement of monitoring of unlawful trade particularly those that may be destined for international markets.

Item ID: 58743
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: bird of paradise, endemic tropical species, vulnerable species, Papua New Guinea, anthropogenic impacts, hunting, cultural adornment, feather headdresses
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Miriam Supuma.
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2019 03:18
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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