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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Alfred R.,World Wildlife Fund | Alfred R.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Ahmad A.H.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Payne J.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: Home range is defined as the extent and location of the area covered annually by a wild animal in its natural habitat. Studies of African and Indian elephants in landscapes of largely open habitats have indicated that the sizes of the home range are determined not only by the food supplies and seasonal changes, but also by numerous other factors including availability of water sources, habitat loss and the existence of man-made barriers. The home range size for the Bornean elephant had never been investigated before. Methodology/Principal Findings: The first satellite tracking program to investigate the movement of wild Bornean elephants in Sabah was initiated in 2005. Five adult female elephants were immobilized and neck collars were fitted with tracking devices. The sizes of their home range and movement patterns were determined using location data gathered from a satellite tracking system and analyzed by using the Minimum Convex Polygon and Harmonic Mean methods. Home range size was estimated to be 250 to 400 km 2 in a non-fragmented forest and 600 km 2 in a fragmented forest. The ranging behavior was influenced by the size of the natural forest habitat and the availability of permanent water sources. The movement pattern was influenced by human disturbance and the need to move from one feeding site to another. Conclusions/Significance: Home range and movement rate were influenced by the degree of habitat fragmentation. Once habitat was cleared or converted, the availability of food plants and water sources were reduced, forcing the elephants to travel to adjacent forest areas. Therefore movement rate in fragmented forest was higher than in the non-fragmented forest. Finally, in fragmented habitat human and elephant conflict occurrences were likely to be higher, due to increased movement bringing elephants into contact more often with humans. © 2012 Alfred et al. Source

Gregory S.D.,University of Adelaide | Brook B.W.,University of Adelaide | Goossens B.,University of Cardiff | Goossens B.,Danau Girang Field Center | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: Southeast Asian deforestation rates are among the world's highest and threaten to drive many forest-dependent species to extinction. Climate change is expected to interact with deforestation to amplify this risk. Here we examine whether regional incentives for sustainable forest management will be effective in improving threatened mammal conservation, in isolation and when combined with global climate change mitigation. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using a long time-series of orangutan nest counts for Sabah (2000-10), Malaysian Borneo, we evaluated the effect of sustainable forest management and climate change scenarios, and their interaction, on orangutan spatial abundance patterns. By linking dynamic land-cover and downscaled global climate model projections, we determine the relative influence of these factors on orangutan spatial abundance and use the resulting statistical models to identify habitat crucial for their long-term conservation. We show that land-cover change the degradation of primary forest had the greatest influence on orangutan population size. Anticipated climate change was predicted to cause reductions in abundance in currently occupied populations due to decreased habitat suitability, but also to promote population growth in western Sabah by increasing the suitability of presently unoccupied regions. Conclusions/Significance: We find strong quantitative support for the Sabah government's proposal to implement sustainable forest management in all its forest reserves during the current decade; failure to do so could result in a 40 to 80 per cent regional decline in orangutan abundance by 2100. The Sabah orangutan is just one (albeit iconic) example of a forest-dependent species that stands to benefit from sustainable forest management, which promotes conservation of existing forests. © 2012 Gregory et al. Source

Nietlisbach P.,University of Zurich | Arora N.,University of Zurich | Nater A.,University of Zurich | Goossens B.,University of Cardiff | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2012

Mating systems are thought to be an important determinant of dispersal strategies in most animals, including the great apes. As the most basal taxon of all great apes, orang-utans can provide information about the evolution of mating systems and their consequences for population structure in this Family. To assess the sex-specific population structure in orang-utans, we used a combination of paternally transmitted Y-chromosomal genetic markers and maternally transmitted mitochondrial DNA sequences. Markers transmitted through the more philopatric sex are expected to show stronger differentiation among populations than the ones transmitted through the dispersing sex. We studied these patterns using 70 genetic samples from wild orang-utans from seven Bornean and two Sumatran populations. We found pronounced population structure in haplotype networks of mitochondrial sequence data, but much less so for male-specific markers. Similarly, mitochondrial genetic differentiation was twice as high among populations compared to Y-chromosomal variation. We also found that genetic distance increased faster with geographic distance for mitochondrial than for Y-linked markers, leading to estimates of male dispersal distances that are several-fold higher than those of females. These findings provide evidence for strong male-biased dispersal in orang-utans. The transition to predominantly female-biased dispersal in the great ape lineage appears to be correlated with life in multimale groups and may reflect the associated fitness benefits of reliable male coalitions with relatives or known partners, a feature that is absent in orang-utans. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Nater A.,University of Zurich | Nietlisbach P.,University of Zurich | Arora N.,University of Zurich | Van Schaik C.P.,University of Zurich | And 11 more authors.
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2011

The Southeast Asian Sunda archipelago harbors a rich biodiversity with a substantial proportion of endemic species. The evolutionary history of these species has been drastically influenced by environmental forces, such as fluctuating sea levels, climatic changes, and severe volcanic activities. Orangutans (genus: Pongo), the only Asian great apes, are well suited to study the relative impact of these forces due to their well-documented behavioral ecology, strict habitat requirements, and exceptionally slow life history. We investigated the phylogeographic patterns and evolutionary history of orangutans in the light of the complex geological and climatic history of the Sunda archipelago. Our study is based on the most extensive genetic sampling to date, covering the entire range of extant orangutan populations. Using data from three mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes from 112 wild orangutans, we show that Sumatran orangutans, Pongo abelii, are paraphyletic with respect to Bornean orangutans (P. pygmaeus), the only other currently recognized species within this genus. The deepest split in the mtDNA phylogeny of orangutans occurs across the Toba caldera in northern Sumatra and, not as expected, between both islands. Until the recent past, the Toba region has experienced extensive volcanic activity, which has shaped the current phylogeographic patterns. Like their Bornean counterparts, Sumatran orangutans exhibit a strong, yet previously undocumented structuring into four geographical clusters. However, with 3.50 Ma, the Sumatran haplotypes have a much older coalescence than their Bornean counterparts (178 kya). In sharp contrast to the mtDNA data, 18 Y-chromosomal polymorphisms show a much more recent coalescence within Sumatra compared with Borneo. Moreover, the deep geographic structure evident in mtDNA is not reflected in the male population history, strongly suggesting male-biased dispersal. We conclude that volcanic activities have played an important role in the evolutionary history of orangutans and potentially of many other forest-dwelling Sundaland species. Furthermore, we demonstrate that a strong sex bias in dispersal can lead to conflicting patterns in uniparentally inherited markers even at a genus-wide scale, highlighting the need for a combined usage of maternally and paternally inherited marker systems in phylogenetic studies. © 2011 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. Source

Gillespie G.R.,University of Melbourne | Ahmad E.,Kinabatangan Orang utan Conservation Programme | Elahan B.,Kinabatangan Orang utan Conservation Programme | Evans A.,University of Cardiff | And 4 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

The impact of degradation of Southeast Asian rainforests and conversion to oil palm plantations on amphibians is unknown. To assess the relative value of secondary forests, oil palm plantations and other non-forest habitats for amphibian conservation, we evaluated amphibian species richness and assemblage composition in secondary lowland forests, compared with oil palm plantations and other non-forest habitats, along the Lower Kinabatangan River, eastern Sabah, Malaysia. Secondary forests retained a large proportion of amphibian species known from lowland primary rainforests. Species richness was higher in secondary forest habitats compared to oil palm plantations and other non-forest habitats. Secondary forests retained a much higher proportion of endemic species than non-forest habitats. We found strong differentiation between the frog assemblages in forest, non-forest and plantation sites. Oil palm plantations retained no microhylid species, few arboreal species and were dominated by habitat generalist and human commensal species. Our findings suggest that, despite a history of disturbance and degradation, remnant secondary forests may play an important role in conserving lowland amphibian diversity. In contrast, oil palm plantations have comparatively low conservation value for amphibians. Our study highlights the value of setting aside adequate areas of representative forest habitats within agricultural landscapes in order to conserve biodiversity, even when those remnants have a history of prior disturbance. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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