Understanding the effect of landscape fragmentation and vegetation productivity on elephant habitat utilization in Amboseli ecosystem, Kenya

Tawanda W. Gara*, Tiejun Wang, Andrew K. Skidmore, Fadzai M. Zengeya, Shadrack M. Ngene, Amon Murwira, Henry Ndaimani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Understanding factors affecting the distribution of the African elephant is important for its conservation in increasingly human-dominated savannah landscapes. However, understanding how landscape fragmentation and vegetation productivity affect elephant habitat utilization remains poorly understood. In this study, we tested whether landscape fragmentation and vegetation productivity explain elephant habitat utilization in the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya. We used GPS (Global Positioning System) telemetry data from five elephants to quantify elephant habitat utilization. Habitat utilization was determined by calculating the time elephants spent within a unit area. We then used generalized additive models (GAMs) to model the relationship between time density and landscape fragmentation, as well as vegetation productivity. Results show that landscape fragmentation and vegetation productivity significantly (P < 0.05) explain elephant habitat utilization. A significant (P < 0.05) unimodal relationship between vegetation productivity and habitat utilization was observed. Results suggest that elephants spend much of their time in less fragmented landscapes of intermediate productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-269
Number of pages11
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • dry matter productivity
  • effective mesh size
  • fragmentation
  • habitat utilization
  • time density

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