UBC Theses and Dissertations
Geospatial analysis of African elephant movement (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Wall, Jacob C
African elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) are important species for geospatial study given their ecological role as megaherbivores, their large home ranges which pose challenges for conservation, and the ongoing ivory crisis. Using GPS tracking data, I address five research topics that contribute new information to the geospatial analysis of tracking data, to elephant movement ecology, and conservation : 1. What is an appropriate method to collect, store, disseminate, visualize and analyze elephant tracking data? I present a system (Loxobase) designed to provide an efficient and scientific basis for the treatment of wildlife tracking data. I demonstrate its utility by analyzing tracking datasets collected from 247 elephants (Chapter 2). 2. Can we leverage real-time tracking data for management and conservation? I present a monitoring system that implements continuous analysis of elephant GPS tracking data streams to identify positional and movement-based geospatial alert conditions. Four algorithms identify when wildlife slow or stop moving or cross into or near to spatial objects (Chapter 3). 3. Can we estimate wildlife space-use from tracking data? I develop the Elliptical Time-Density model to estimate an animal's utilization distribution from tracking data where parameters are directly linked to species biology. I demonstrate its performance in relation to other space-use estimators (Chapter 4). 4. What does tracking data tell us about the movement patterns of the Sahelian elephants in Mali? I use GPS tracking to study elephants in the Gourma, Mali to understand this unique and important population. The Gourma elephant's range was found to exceed those reported elsewhere in Africa and movements were correlated with patterns of rainfall and vegetation phenology. I also identified corridors and core areas of conservation priority (Chapter 5). 5. What does tracking data tell us about the factors influencing elephant range size across Africa? I present a comparative analysis of elephant range area measured in West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Using mixed effects models, I test hypotheses about elephant range size in relation to sex, species, region, vegetation phenology and quantity, protected areas, human footprint and terrain (Chapter 6).
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