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Bio­di­ver­sity


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Bio­di­ver­sity in the news, arti­cles that stood out and caught my attention.

Moos

201817Jan21:23

Habi­tat frag­men­ta­tion a big­ger threat to the güiña wild­cat than per­se­cu­tion by humans

pub­lished 17 Jan­u­ary 2018 | mod­i­fied 17 Jan­u­ary 2018
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Con­ser­va­tion researchers from sev­eral coun­tries, led by con­ser­va­tion­ists of the Uni­ver­sity of Kent, have found that habi­tat frag­men­ta­tion, and the sub­di­vi­sion of large farms into smaller ones, are the biggest threats fac­ing the güiña wild­cat in Chile.

The güiña or kod­kod, a for­est liv­ing cat, is sur­pris­ingly tol­er­ant to defor­esta­tion and direct killing by peo­ple as retal­i­a­tion for lost live­stock (poul­try) is not com­mon, accord­ing to find­ings pub­lished on 16 Jan­u­ary in the Jour­nal of Applied Ecol­ogy.

Guina wildcatGüiña wild­cat. Image by Jerry Laker.

The güiña (Leop­ar­dus guigna) has been in decline for many years, with its pop­u­la­tion esti­mated to be fewer than 10,000 indi­vid­u­als, and it has been clas­si­fied as Vul­ner­a­ble on the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species since 1996.

The güiña has a rep­u­ta­tion for attack­ing live­stock and, there­fore, is per­ceived neg­a­tively by rural inhab­i­tants in the region. As a result, it had been assumed that a major threat to the future of the güiña was human per­se­cu­tion, cou­pled with exten­sive farm­ing and log­ging that has seen its habi­tat reduced by almost 70% since 1970.

How­ever, through a series of ques­tion­naires, cam­era trap data and remote-​sensed images the researchers, led by Nico­las Galvez study­ing at the Dur­rell Insti­tute of Con­ser­va­tion and Ecol­ogy — Uni­ver­sity of Kent, found that the güiña is remark­ably adapt­able to for­est loss. In par­tic­u­lar the team found that large, inten­sive agri­cul­tural areas are actu­ally well suited for the güiña and should not be dis­missed as poor qual­ity habi­tat. This is because there are often unfarmed areas that pro­vide refuge, food resources and suit­able con­di­tions for rear­ing young.

Dr Nico­las Galvez, now a lec­turer at the Pon­ti­f­i­cia Uni­ver­si­dad Católica de Chile, com­mented: “Land sub­di­vi­sion and frag­men­ta­tion have a far big­ger impact on güiña sur­vival. This is because there is a higher risk of human inter­ac­tion and per­se­cu­tion in areas where there are more farms, a greater pres­sure on nat­ural resources through increased tim­ber extrac­tion and live­stock graz­ing, and even com­pe­ti­tion for food from domes­tic ani­mals kept as pets.”

Notably, though, while the risk of a güiña being killed by a human is higher in more densely pop­u­lated farm­ing areas, our ques­tion­naires indi­cate that only 10% of the rural inhab­i­tants have killed a güiña over the last decade. This sug­gests that per­se­cu­tion is much less of a threat to their sur­vival than the sub­di­vi­sion of farms.

Pro­fes­sor Zoe Davies, co-​author, Dur­rell Insti­tute of Con­ser­va­tion and Ecol­ogy, Uni­ver­sity of Kent, UK

As a result of this, the researchers sug­gested that farm­ers with large prop­er­ties are key stake­hold­ers in the con­ser­va­tion of this species and must be at the cen­tre of any con­ser­va­tion inter­ven­tions that aim to pro­tect exist­ing land where the güiña is usu­ally found.

The find­ings also high­light a frame­work that can be used to spa­tially match social and eco­log­i­cal data which could help with con­ser­va­tion efforts for other sim­i­lar small to medium sized car­ni­vores in other parts of the world. The frame­work pro­vides a clearer under­stand­ing of how habi­tat loss, land frag­men­ta­tion and human inter­ac­tions affect species survival.

Video of the güiña wild­cat on ARKIVE:

Arkive video - Guigna - overview

(Source: British Eco­log­i­cal Soci­ety press release, 16.01.2018)


UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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