Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.7717/peerj.13472
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Forecasting effects of transport infrastructure on endangered tigers: a tool for conservation planning
Author Carter, N.H.; Pradhan, N.; Hengaju, K.; Sonawane, C.; Sage, A.H.; Grimm, V.
Source Titel PeerJ
Year 2022
Department OESA
Volume 10
Page From e13472
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords Agent-based model; Carnivore; Conservation; Railway; Road; Protected area; Infrastructure
Abstract The rapid development of transport infrastructure is a major threat to endangered species worldwide. Roads and railways can increase animal mortality, fragment habitats, and exacerbate other threats to biodiversity. Predictive models that forecast the future impacts to endangered species can guide land-use planning in ways that proactively reduce the negative effects of transport infrastructure. Agent-based models are well suited for predictive scenario testing, yet their application to endangered species conservation is rare. Here, we developed a spatially explicit, agent-based model to forecast the effects of transport infrastructure on an isolated tiger (Panthera tigris) population in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park—a global biodiversity hotspot. Specifically, our model evaluated the independent and interactive effects of two mechanisms by which transport infrastructure may affect tigers: (a) increasing tiger mortality, e.g., via collisions with vehicles, and (b) depleting prey near infrastructure. We projected potential impacts on tiger population dynamics based on the: (i) existing transportation network in and near the park, and (ii) the inclusion of a proposed railway intersecting through the park’s buffer zone. Our model predicted that existing roads would kill 46 tigers over 20 years via increased mortality, and reduced the adult tiger population by 39% (133 to 81). Adding the proposed railway directly killed 10 more tigers over those 20 years; deaths that reduced the overall tiger population by 30 more individuals (81 to 51). Road-induced mortality also decreased the proportion of time a tiger occupied a given site by 5 years in the 20-year simulation. Interestingly, we found that transportation-induced depletion of prey decreased tiger occupancy by nearly 20% in sites close to roads and the railway, thereby reducing tiger exposure to transportation-induced mortality. The results of our model constitute a strong argument for taking into account prey distributions into the planning of roads and railways. Our model can promote tiger-friendly transportation development, for example, by improving Environmental Impact Assessments, identifying “no go” zones where transport infrastructure should be prohibited, and recommending alternative placement of roads and railways.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Carter, N.H., Pradhan, N., Hengaju, K., Sonawane, C., Sage, A.H., Grimm, V. (2022):
Forecasting effects of transport infrastructure on endangered tigers: a tool for conservation planning
PeerJ 10 , e13472 10.7717/peerj.13472