UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conservation planning at multiple scales : a density model and spatial planning tool to facilitate the conservation of Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) and the Northern Andes Morrell, Nina


Global declines in large-bodied terrestrial vertebrates have been widely linked to human disturbance and habitat loss. Consequently, identifying remaining opportunities to conserve habitats likely to maximize the persistence of such species remains a key challenge to conserving biological diversity globally. Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) are among the least-known wide-ranging large mammal species, but occupy montane ecoregions throughout the Northern Andes, a global biodiversity hotspot. Recent evidence suggests the Andean bear range includes forests at the fringe of human development, including the equatorial dry forests of Peru. If Andean bears are to be conserved in this region, a better understanding of their potential densities, use of habitats, and response to human influence is required. This thesis used spatial density models, existing field and remote-sensed data, and spatial planning tools to relate species detection to environmental variables and optimize conservation plans for Andean bears and the Northern Andes. I assessed habitat use by Andean bears in equatorial dry forest at a local scale in Northwestern Peru, using camera-trap data to construct spatially-explicit capture recapture (SCR) models. I compared models for resources thought to affect bear density by their association with threats and food availability; including elevation, slope, forest cover, and proximity to roads. I found that proximity to roads reduced the density of Andean bears, and the influence of factors other than roads varied seasonally. I identified potential areas of equatorial dry forest outside the IUCN range that could support Andean bears, but noted that unmapped roads and smallholder agriculture affected the reliability of results. I also employed systematic prioritization methods to identify configurations of land parcels that maximized biodiversity features at the least cost. I found that the Andean bear range performed better at capturing species richness than a random control feature. I also found that planning for multiple goals in a systematic planning framework greatly increased the area efficiency of the solutions, compared with planning for biodiversity features separately. Overall, this thesis highlights the importance of working at multiple scales for efficient conservation planning, and provides a common framework for conducting such analyses in the future.

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