Changing landscape configuration demands ecological planning: Retrospect and prospect for megaherbivores of North Bengal

Autoři: Tanoy Mukherjee aff001;  Lalit Kumar Sharma aff001;  Mukesh Thakur aff001;  Goutam Kumar Saha aff002;  Kailash Chandra aff001
Působiště autorů: Zoological Survey of India, Prani Vigyan Bhawan, New Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal, India aff001;  Department of Zoology, University of Calcutta, Ballygunge, Kolkata, West Bengal, India aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225398


The Gorumara National Park (GNP) is an important conservation area located in the northern region of West Bengal State, India, as it provides habitat for three megaherbivores: Indian One-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and Gaurs (Bos gaurus). It harbours one of the last population of the one-horned rhino. In the present study, landscape change and configuration were investigated by comparing three Landsat images, from 1998, 2008 and 2018. The images were classified into six different landcover classes following standard methodology. The present study also involves evaluation of landscape and anthropogenic predictors influence on the megaherbivores of GNP, followed by future landcover simulation for the year 2028. The result shows a significant decrease in the grassland cover from 18.87 km2 to 8.27 km2 from 1998 to 2018, whereas the woodland cover has increased from 50.14 km2 to 62.09 km2 between 1998 and 2018. The landscape configuration indices such as Number of Patches (NP), Patch Density (PD), Interspersion and Juxtaposition (IJI), Aggregation Index (AI) and Mean Shape Index (SHAPE AM) indicated that the landscapes has lost complexity in the spatial placement of patches of different Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) classes. Also, the landscape over the three decades has become uniform in terms of diversity of patches, because of earlier plantation activities by the forest managers. Result also indicated that grassland, along with its class metrics are the top predictors contributing 43.6% in explaining the spatial distribution of megaherbivores in GNP. Results from the simulated landcover of 2028 suggest a possible decline in overall grassland by 6.23% and a subsequent upsurge in woodland by 6.09% from 2018. The present result will be useful in guiding the forest management in developing habitat improvement strategies for the long- term viability of megaherbivore populations of rhino, gaur and elephant in the GNP.

Klíčová slova:

Conservation science – Elephants – Forests – Grasses – Grasslands – Habitats – Surface water – Wildlife


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