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Addressing the gap in protected area design and connectivity in Liberia

Watson, Anthony (2021) Addressing the gap in protected area design and connectivity in Liberia.

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Abstract:Protected areas and biological corridors have been proposed as the main methods of conservation to prevent biodiversity degradation and habitat loss, with a particular effort to help reduce climate change globally. Liberia establishes its protected areas to protect its biodiversity, with the majority situated in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the country. However, there is no detail on how much protected areas network covers species habitat in the country. Therefore, this research aims to test the representation of species suitable habitat in Liberia’s protected areas, using the spatial distribution of two umbrella species Loxodonta cyclotis and Choeropsis liberiensis, because of their habitat preference and territory need to sustain a viable population. The niche modeling algorithm maximum entropy modeling (Maxent) was used to model Loxodonta cyclotis and Choeropsis liberiensis distribution in the country. This was done using secondary presence-only data downloaded from the GBIF database for both species and ten (10) environmental variables relevant to the species ecological preference collected from various sources. The issues of spatial auto-correlated observations were considered by spatially rarefying species presence points, using 250m as the distance between observations. Additionally, collinearity between environmental variables were evaluated using a set threshold of (≥ ± 0.6) as an elimination requirement for inter-correlated variables. From the analysis, the model predicted both species suitable habitat locations in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the country at an AUC ≥ 0.8. The variables that influenced the model are Euclidean distance to built-up, cropland, roads, and swamp. There is a gap in the protected status of species suitable habitat as they are insufficiently represented in protected areas in the country. Of the suitable habitat with protection status, only the Sapo and Grebo protected area can sustain viable population of Loxodonta cyclotis, compare to the Choeropsis liberiensis which is sufficient. Fifteen (15) optimum locations were identified to establish a corridor between protected areas. Therefore, the research uncovered a gap in the protection of these species suitable habitat, which could affect other species existence as they umbrella their habitat. `
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ITC: Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
Programme:Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation MSc (75014)
Link to this item:https://purl.utwente.nl/essays/88978
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