Towards the restoration of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor for large mammals in Panama: comparing multi-species occupancy to movement models
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17066
Abstract Background Habitat fragmentation is a primary driver of wildlife loss, and the establishment of biological corridors is a conservation strategy to mitigate this problem. Identifying areas with high potential functional connectivity typically relies on the assessment of landscape resistance to movement. Many modeling approaches exist to estimate resistance surfaces but to date only a handful of studies compared the outputs resulting from different methods. Moreover, as many species are threatened by fragmentation, effective biodiversity conservation requires that corridors simultaneously meet the needs of multiple species. While many corridor planning initiatives focus on single species, we here used a combination of data types and analytical approaches to identify and compare corridors for several large mammal species within the Panama portion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Methods We divided a large mammal assemblage into two groups depending on the species sensitivity to habitat disturbance. We subsequently used cost-distance methods to produce multi-species corridors which were modeled on the basis of (i) occupancy of nine species derived from camera trapping data collected across Panama, and (ii) step selection functions based on GPS telemetry data from white-lipped peccary Tayassu pecari, puma Puma concolor, and ocelot Leopardus pardalis. In addition to different data sources and species groups, we also used different transformation curves to convert occupancy and step-selection results into landscape resistance values. Results Corridors modeled differed between sensitive and tolerant species, between the data sets, and between the transformation curves. There were more corridors identified for tolerant species than for sensitive species. For tolerant species, several corridors developed with occupancy data overlapped with corridors produced with step selection functions, but this was not the case for sensitive species. Conclusion Our study represents the first comparison of multispecies corridors parametrized with step selection functions versus occupancy models. Given the wide variability in output corridors, our findings underscore the need to consider the ecological requirements of several species. Our results also suggest that occupancy models can be used for estimating connectivity of generalist species. Finally, this effort allowed to identify important corridors within the MBC (i) at a country scale and (ii) for several species simultaneously to accurately inform the local authorities in conservation planning. The approach we present is reproducible in other sites and/or for other species.