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.
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- dry matter productivity
- effective mesh size
- habitat utilization
- time density