Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Impacts of Human Disturbance on Carnivores in Protected Areas of the American Southwest
by Baker, Angela Darnell, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2016, 201; 10243668
Abstract (Summary)

Mammalian carnivores are a vital component of many ecosystems and can be particularly sensitive to human disturbance, even within protected areas (PAs). Our objective was to understand how human disturbance affects carnivore communities in southern Arizona, U.S.A., by studying habitat occupancy based on data collected using non-invasive methods in three PAs with different levels of human disturbance. We examined the impacts of human disturbance variables and disturbance level on carnivore occupancy, co-occurrence, temporal activity, and habitat associations. Carnivore occupancy varied based on human disturbance variables (i.e., roads, trails, etc.). Edges of PAs appeared to negatively impact occupancy of nearly all carnivore species. We also found that the presence of roads and trails, and not necessarily how much they are used, had a significant negative impact on the occupancy of most carnivore species. Furthermore, the overall level of disturbance within a PA influenced how sensitive carnivores were to human disturbance variables. Carnivores were more sensitive in PAs with higher levels of disturbance and were relatively unaffected by disturbance variables in a PA with low base levels of disturbance. In areas with low levels of disturbance, we found that many carnivore species have lower than expected levels of co-occurrence, which suggests spatial partitioning. As disturbance within an area increased, spatial partitioning became less prominent, and carnivores exhibited higher levels of temporal partitioning within these areas. We found that habitat associations varied among carnivore species, and associations were often different across different scales. We also found evidence of different habitat preferences in protected areas with higher levels of disturbance (e.g., avoidance of water sources). Information on the impacts of human disturbance is important when developing conservation plans, which is especially true for protected areas, given their important role in carnivore conservation, particularly as they are experiencing ever increasing rates of visitation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Leberg, Paul L.
Commitee: Duke-Sylvester, Scott, Dunham, Amy, Gompper, Matthew, Moon, Brad, Povinelli, Daniel
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Environmental and Evolutionary Biology
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-B 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Ecology, Conservation biology
Keywords: Arizona, Carnivores, Non-invasive methods, Occupancy modeling, Resource partitioning, Southwest
Publication Number: 10243668
ISBN: 978-0-355-11289-4
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