The effects of research presence and human settlements on the distribution of central chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas in southeast Cameroon

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan congresC3: Congres - Meeting abstract

Ecological factors such as predation can cause a shift in habitat utilization by inducing fear in prey species. Humans who are more and more present in almost all natural areas may incur similar effects and are therefore now considered super predators. Hence, it is crucial to determine how human presence can modify the distribution of animal species. We applied this study to sympatric great apes (Gorilla gorilla gorilla and Pan troglodytes troglodytes). We collected data on great ape nest locations and habitat distribution, and we used other spatial features such as trails, villages, a research site, permanent rivers, and topographic data to determine how different types of variables (ecological and anthropogenic) affect the distribution of wildlife species. Here, we show that human disturbances are important predictors of the distribution of wild animals. In the models with ecological variables only, the distribution of gorilla nests was predicted by the availability of their preferred nesting habitats, while chimpanzee nests were predicted first by elevation, followed by their preferred nesting habitats. When including human settlements in the models, the major predictors of gorilla nesting changed to human features, while the major predictors of chimpanzee nesting remained elevation and the availability of their preferred nesting habitats. Great apes avoided nesting near almost all human features. Our results demonstrate that the long history of human presence in natural systems has modified ecosystems, and they highlight the need to consider anthropogenic variables when studying wildlife response to ecological factors. We anticipated our essay to be a starting point for defining conservation measures for animal communities in human-dominated landscapes even where hunting is controlled. For example, the evidence suggests that chimpanzees may survive in human-encroached areas whenever the availability of their nesting habitat and preferred fruits can support their population, while gorillas are threatened by a certain level of human activity. This research extends our knowledge of predator-prey systems and emphasizes the need to consider the effects of humans on animal behaviour.
Originele taal-2Engels
StatusGepubliceerd - sep-2019
EventSecond congress of the African Primatological Society - Entebbe, Oeganda
Duur: 3-sep-20195-sep-2019


CongresSecond congress of the African Primatological Society
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