Record Details

O'Farrill, Georgina;Gauthier Schampaert, Kim;Rayfield, Bronwyn;Bodin, Örjan;Calmé, Sophie;Sengupta, Raja;Gonzalez, Andrew
The potential connectivity of waterhole networks and the effectiveness of a protected area under various drought scenarios.
PLoS one
Journal Article
Landscape connectivity is considered a priority for ecosystem conservation because it may mitigate the synergistic effects of climate change and habitat loss. Climate change predictions suggest changes in precipitation regimes, which will affect the availability of water resources, with potential consequences for landscape connectivity. The Greater Calakmul Region of the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) has experienced a 16% decrease in precipitation over the last 50 years, which we hypothesise has affected water resource connectivity. We used a network model of connectivity, for three large endangered species (Baird's tapir, white-lipped peccary and jaguar), to assess the effect of drought on waterhole availability and connectivity in a forested landscape inside and adjacent to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. We used reported travel distances and home ranges for our species to establish movement distances in our model. Specifically, we compared the effects of 10 drought scenarios on the number of waterholes (nodes) and the subsequent changes in network structure and node importance. Our analysis revealed that drought dramatically influenced spatial structure and potential connectivity of the network. Our results show that waterhole connectivity and suitable habitat (area surrounding waterholes) is lost faster inside than outside the reserve for all three study species, an outcome that may drive them outside the reserve boundaries. These results emphasize the need to assess how the variability in the availability of seasonal water resource may affect the viability of animal populations under current climate change inside and outside protected areas.