Nav: Home

Maintaining tiger connectivity and minimising extinction into the next century

January 11, 2018

The study was undertaken by a team of researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), the Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning (FERAL), and the University of Montana.

The team used genetic information collected on field from tiger faecal samples, to understand how landscape features--like roads and agriculture--impact tiger movement in Central India, a global high priority tiger conservation landscape. Findings revealed that high traffic roads and densely populated urban areas are detrimental to tiger movement.

It is safe to assume that both, urban areas and road traffic, will burgeon in the future. To understand how tiger connectivity might be impacted by development, researchers simulated 86 different development scenarios. These included business-as-usual, constraints on landscape change and others with protected corridors delimited by the NTCA.

"Currently, there is movement of tigers and genetic exchange between protected areas. However, unplanned development, especially loss of forest cover around protected areas will have a strong negative impact on tiger connectivity in the future", says Prachi Thatte, a PhD student in Dr Uma Ramakrishnan's lab at NCBS, and lead author of the study. She adds, "Our results highlight the need for informed development plans that consider biodiversity and connected wildlife populations in addition to human development goals."

The good news is that tigers do not go extinct in the entire landscape! But several populations do go extinct. Depending on whether development and land-use change is unrestricted or managed to maintain forest cover, the extinction outcomes for tigers are different. Unrestricted landscape development results in 25% lower genetic diversity and reduction in tiger numbers as several small populations in the landscape go extinct. Pro-active measures--such as notifying buffer areas, protecting corridors and maintaining populations between Protected Areas (PAs) --are critical to maintaining viable long-term tiger populations at a landscape scale.

Aditya Joshi, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Trust and an author on the paper, says, "Conservation of corridors and forest areas outside of the protected area network is critical for long-term demographic and genetic viability of many endangered species and future growth and recovery of tiger populations."

India is a signatory to The Global Tiger Recovery Program, which aims to double the tiger numbers by 2020.

"Our results highlight that along with our efforts to increase tiger numbers within PAs, a lot more needs to be done to meet the targets we have set for the year 2020. To ensure both objectives are met, the need of the hour is to include conservation goals in regional developmental plans, a nationally important exercise which is seriously lacking," says Srinivas Vaidyanathan, a researcher from FERAL, and co-author of the paper.

"We hope that such research will bridge gaps between science and policy in India" adds Dr Uma Ramakrishnan.
-end-
The research paper, "Maintaining tiger connectivity and minimizing extinction into the next century: Insights from landscape genetics and spatially-explicit simulations," was published in the Biological Conservation journal.

National Centre for Biological Sciences

Related Conservation Articles:

Helping conservation initiatives turn contagious
New research shows that conservation initiatives go viral, which helps scientists and policymakers better design successful programs more likely to be adopted.
Overturning the truth on conservation tillage
Conservation tillage does not lower yield in modern cropping systems.
Talking to each other -- how forest conservation can succeed
Forest conservation can be a source of tension between competing priorities and interests from forestry, science, administration and nature conservation organizations.
Better conservation through satellites
The use of satellite telemetry in conservation is entering a 'golden age,' and is now being used to track the movements of individual animals at unprecedented scales.
Maximizing conservation benefits
Overexploitation and population collapse pose significant threats to marine fish stocks across the globe.
More Conservation News and Conservation Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...