DURHAM, N.C. -- A study of extinction patterns of 25 large mammal species in India finds that improving existing protected areas, creating new areas, and interconnecting them will be necessary for many species to survive this century.
The study, by a team of researchers from the United States and India, appears in the March 10 online edition of the British peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The team's analysis showed that forest cover and local human population densities are also key factors. Fostering greater human cultural tolerance for wildlife likewise will be critical.
The study examined extinction probabilities for a range of species. It looked at species considered endangered or critically endangered on the 2009 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, including tigers, lions and elephants. And it looked at species of least concern, including jackals, wolves and other species.
"India's fragmented network of relatively small protected areas has high carrying capacities for large mammals," said Krithi K. Karanth, who conducted the study as part of her doctoral thesis at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. "But given the overall patterns of extinction estimated in our study, we need to create new areas, and connect them better, if many of the mammals are to persist into the future."
Karanth currently is a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University. She also is a research associate of the Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bangalore, India.
To identify factors critical to the species' survival and estimate their extinction probabilities, she and her team collected 30,000 records, including hunting, taxidermy and museum records dating back to 1850. They divided India's geographical area into a grid with 1,326 individual local "cells" and entered the historical data into each cell. They then used occupancy estimation models, based on
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