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Mapping suitable great ape habitat in and around the Lobéké National Park, South-East Cameroon

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Kühl,  Hjalmar S.
Great Ape Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
Chimpanzees, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Ginath Yuh, Y., N'Goran, P. K., Dongmo, Z. N., Tracz, W., Tangwa, E., Agunbiade, M., et al. (2020). Mapping suitable great ape habitat in and around the Lobéké National Park, South-East Cameroon. Ecology and Evolution, 10(24), 14282-14299. doi:10.1002/ece3.7027.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A1B5-6
Abstract
Abstract As a result of extensive data collection efforts over the last 20?30 years, there is quite a good understanding of the large-scale geographic distribution and range limits of African great apes. However, as human activities increasingly fragment great ape spatial distribution, a better understanding of what constitutes suitable great ape habitat is needed to inform conservation and resource extraction management. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) inhabit the Lobéké National Park and its surrounding forest management units (FMUs) in South-East Cameroon. Both park and neighboring forestry concessions require reliable evidence on key factors driving great ape distribution for their management plans, yet this information is largely missing and incomplete. This study aimed at mapping great ape habitat suitability in the area and at identifying the most influential predictors among three predictor categories, including landscape predictors (dense forest, swampy forest, distance to water bodies, and topography), human disturbance predictors (hunting, deforestation, distance to roads, and population density), and bioclimatic predictor (annual precipitation). We found that about 63% of highly to moderately suitable chimpanzee habitat occurred within the Lobéké National Park, while only 8.4% of similar habitat conditions occurred within FMUs. For gorillas, highly and moderately suitable habitats occurred within the Lobéké National Park and its surrounding FMUs (82.6% and 65.5%, respectively). Key determinants of suitable chimpanzee habitat were hunting pressure and dense forest, with species occurrence probability optimal at relatively lower hunting rates and at relatively high-dense forest areas. Key determinants of suitable gorilla habitat were hunting pressure, dense forests, swampy forests, and slope, with species occurrence probability optimal at relatively high-dense and swampy forest areas and at areas with mild slopes. Our findings show differential response of the two ape species to forestry activities in the study area, thus aligning with previous studies.