Large-scale Habitat Association Modeling of the Endangered Korean Ratsnake (Elaphe schrenckii)
ABSTRACT We used radio-telemetric monitoring and statistical models to investigate habitat associations of the endangered Korean ratsnake (Elaphe schrenckii) in a mountain region of Woraksan National Park based on the data collected from July 2007 to April 2009. We evaluated a priori models at landscape scales that incorporated natural and artificial variables to explain ratsnake presence and absence using geographic information system (GIS) databases. We generated models using logistic regression combined with Akaike's information criterion (AIC) to determine which variables are most important. The best-ranked model predicted that the ratsnakes are likely to use areas with high annual solar radiation and that they are closer to streams, coniferous and mixed forests, farmland, houses, and barren ground. We next evaluated the model by applying it to an internal and an external dataset, where the model showed high power of prediction and discrimination on the internal dataset with estimated mean probability of 94% while showing suitability as a predictive model on the external dataset with 64% probability. The present study suggests that a created habitat model can provide valuable contributions to conservation and management efforts directed towards ratsnake populations.
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus) is an endangered, yet little-studied, species throughout its range in Nepal. We examined habitat selection and diet of the dhole by searching for dholes in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve (DHR), the only hunting reserve in Nepal, and developed a habitat selection model to determine their habitat preferences. We also collected anecdotal data on depredation events and attitudes towards the dhole from 89 local people. We collected each dhole scat encountered and conducted dietary analysis to calculate the percent frequency of occurrence of each prey item and estimate the biomass consumed by dholes in the study area. The dhole used most habitat types and targeted a wide range of prey species and sizes, but avoided barren land, Juniperus spp. and Abies spp. dominated forests, and habitat under anthropogenic pressure. Eighty percent of the dhole’s diet was represented by wild prey species; blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) comprised 13.9% and livestock comprised 20% of the diet. The consumption of livestock has led to a negative attitude of local people towards dhole conservation. As blue sheep are the main trophy hunting species of the DHR, there is also the potential for competition between hunters and dhole, and other predators, for blue sheep. Our habitat selection model will be useful for estimating the probability of occurrence of this species within similar regions. These findings provide baseline information for authorities responsible for preparing conservation action plans for this species and managing the co-existence of humans and dholes within the reserve.Journal of Mammalogy 03/2015; 96(1):47–53. · 2.23 Impact Factor