Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center


Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center

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Rovero F.,Tropical Biodiversity Section | Rovero F.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Mtui A.S.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Kitegile A.S.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2012

Hunting and habitat degradation are universal threats to primates across the tropics, thus deciphering the relative impact of threats on population relative abundance is critical to predicting extinction risk and providing conservation recommendations. We studied diurnal primates over a period of nearly 6. years in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, a site of global importance for primate conservation. We assessed how population relative abundance of five species (of which two are endemic and IUCN-Endangered) differed between two forest blocks that are similar in size and habitat types but contrast strongly in protection level, and how abundance changed during 2004-2009. We also measured habitat and disturbance parameters and, in the unprotected forest, evaluated hunting practices. We found significant differences in primates' abundance between protected and unprotected forests, with the greater contrast being the lower abundance of colobine monkeys (Udzungwa red colobus and Angolan colobus) in the unprotected forest. At this site moreover, colobines declined to near-extinction over the study period. In contrast, two cercopithecines (Sanje mangabey and Sykes' monkey) showed slightly higher abundance in the unprotected forest and did not decline significantly. We argue that escalating hunting in the unprotected forest has specifically impacted the canopy-dwelling colobus monkeys, although habitat degradation may also have reduced their abundance. In contrast, cercopithecines did not seem affected by the current hunting, and their greater ecological adaptability may explain the relatively higher abundance in the unprotected forest. We provide recommendations towards the long-term protection of the area. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Rovero F.,Tropical Biodiversity Section | Rovero F.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Collett L.,Anglia Ruskin University | Ricci S.,Tropical Biodiversity Section | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2013

Three of the 4 species of giant sengis or elephant shrews (genus Rhynchocyon) have restricted geographic distributions in eastern Africa and are threatened by anthropogenic habitat loss. However, little is known about their ecology and habitat relationships. We used remotely triggered cameras to detect the gray-faced sengi (Rhynchocyon udzungwensis), which is endemic in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, with the aim of defining distributional limits, estimating occupancy patterns, and determining habitat requirements. We deployed 183 camera stations over 6 years and accumulated 4,600 camera trapping days. We refined the area of known occurrence to be 390 km2, thus confirming the species' restricted range and vulnerability. We estimated the average occupancy at 56% of sites occupied on sites sampled, and found that occupancy was best predicted by the forest habitat type, with interior, closed-canopy forest supporting highest estimated sengi occupancy. Terrain slope and distance to the nearest park boundary were less important covariates, but nevertheless included among the best models. Camera-trapping rate (photographic events by day) was significantly correlated with subcanopy tree coverage. Combined, these habitat features may provide optimal conditions for antipredation vigilance (vegetation cover), and for nest-building and/or foraging on invertebrates in the thicker leaf litter on gentle slopes. Our results offer new insights into the ecology of giant sengis and confirm the potential utility of camera trapping for occupancy analysis of small, forest-dwelling mammals. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists.

Rovero F.,Tropical Biodiversity Section | Rovero F.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Martin E.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Martin E.,Sokoine University of Agriculture | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Medium-to-large mammals within tropical forests represent a rich and functionally diversified component of this biome; however, they continue to be threatened by hunting and habitat loss. Assessing these communities implies studying species' richness and composition, and determining a state variable of species abundance in order to infer changes in species distribution and habitat associations. The Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) network fills a chronic gap in standardized data collection by implementing a systematic monitoring framework of biodiversity, including mammal communities, across several sites. In this study, we used TEAM camera trap data collected in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, an area of exceptional importance for mammal diversity, to propose an example of a baseline assessment of species' occupancy. We used 60 camera trap locations and cumulated 1,818 camera days in 2009. Sampling yielded 10,647 images of 26 species of mammals. We estimated that a minimum of 32 species are in fact present, matching available knowledge from other sources. Estimated species richness at camera sites did not vary with a suite of habitat covariates derived from remote sensing, however the detection probability varied with functional guilds, with herbivores being more detectable than other guilds. Species-specific occupancy modelling revealed novel ecological knowledge for the 11 most detected species, highlighting patterns such as 'montane forest dwellers', e.g. the endemic Sanje mangabey (Cercocebus sanjei), and 'lowland forest dwellers', e.g. suni antelope (Neotragus moschatus). Our results show that the analysis of camera trap data with account for imperfect detection can provide a solid ecological assessment of mammal communities that can be systematically replicated across sites. © 2014 Rovero et al.

Rovero F.,Sezione di Biodiversita Tropicale | Rovero F.,Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center | Zimmermann F.,KORA | Berzi D.,Canis lupus Italia | And 2 more authors.
Hystrix | Year: 2013

Automatically triggered cameras taking photographs or videos of passing animals (camera traps) have emerged over the last decade as one of the most powerful tool for wildlife research. In parallel, a wealth of camera trap systems and models has become commercially available, a phenomenon mainly driven by the increased use of camera traps by sport hunters. This has raised the need for developing criteria to choose the suitable camera trap model in relation to a range of factors, primarily the study aim, but also target species, habitat, trapping site, climate and any other aspect that affects camera performance. There is also fragmented information on the fundamentals of sampling designs that deploy camera trapping, such as number of sampling sites, spatial arrangement and sampling duration. In this review, we describe the relevant technological features of camera traps and propose a set of the key ones to be evaluated when choosing camera models. These features are camera specifications such as trigger speed, sensor sensitivity, detection zone, flash type and flash intensity, power autonomy, and related specifications. We then outline sampling design and camera features for the implementation of major camera trapping applications, specifically: (1) faunal inventories, (2) occupancy studies, (3) density estimation through Capture-Mark-Recapture and (4) density estimation through the Random Encounter Model. We also review a range of currently available models and stress the need for standardized testing of camera models that should be frequently updated and widely distributed. Finally we summarize the "ultimate camera trap", as desired by wildlife biologists, and the current technological limitations of camera traps in relation to their potential for a number of emerging applications. © 2013 Associazione Teriologica Italiana.

PubMed | Tropical Biodiversity Section, Vertebrate Zoology Section, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Udzungwa Ecological Monitoring Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

Growing threats to primates in tropical forests make robust and long-term population abundance assessments increasingly important for conservation. Concomitantly, monitoring becomes particularly relevant in countries with primate habitat. Yet monitoring schemes in these countries often suffer from logistic constraints and/or poor rigor in data collection, and a lack of consideration of sources of bias in analysis. To address the need for feasible monitoring schemes and flexible analytical tools for robust trend estimates, we analyzed data collected by local technicians on abundance of three species of arboreal monkey in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania (two Colobus species and one Cercopithecus), an area of international importance for primate endemism and conservation. We counted primate social groups along eight line transects in two forest blocks in the area, one protected and one unprotected, over a span of 11 years. We applied a recently proposed open metapopulation model to estimate abundance trends while controlling for confounding effects of observer, site, and season. Primate populations were stable in the protected forest, while the colobines, including the endemic Udzungwa red colobus, declined severely in the unprotected forest. Targeted hunting pressure at this second site is the most plausible explanation for the trend observed. The unexplained variability in detection probability among transects was greater than the variability due to observers, indicating consistency in data collection among observers. There were no significant differences in both primate abundance and detectability between wet and dry seasons, supporting the choice of sampling during the dry season only based on minimizing practical constraints. Results show that simple monitoring routines implemented by trained local technicians can effectively detect changes in primate populations in tropical countries. The hierarchical Bayesian model formulation adopted provides a flexible tool to determine temporal trends with full account for any imbalance in the data set and for imperfect detection.

Araldi A.,Reproductive Biology Unit | Barelli C.,Reproductive Biology Unit | Barelli C.,Research and Innovation Center Fondazione Edmund Machinery | Hodges K.,Reproductive Biology Unit | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Primatology | Year: 2014

Estimates of population density and abundance are essential for the assessment of nonhuman primate conservation status, especially in view of increasing threats. We undertook the most extensive systematic primate survey yet of the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania, an outstanding region for primate endemism and conservation in Africa. We used distance sampling to survey three arboreal monkey species, including the endangered and endemic Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum). Overall, we encountered 306 primate clusters over 287 km walked along 162 line transects. We found the lowest cluster densities for both red colobus and Angolan colobus (Colobus angolensis; 0.8 clusters/km2) in the least protected forest (Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve, US), while we found the highest densities (3.2 and 2.6 clusters/km2 for red colobus; 3.2 and 2.7 clusters/km2for Angolan colobus) in two large and protected forests in the national park. Unexpectedly, Magombera, a small forest surrounded by plantations, had the highest densities of red colobus (5.0 clusters/km2), most likely a saturation effect due to the rapid shrinking of the forest. In contrast, Sykes’ monkey (Cercopithecus mitis monoides/moloneyi) had more similar densities across forests (3.1–6.6 clusters/km2), including US, suggesting greater resilience to disturbance in this species. For the endemic red colobus monkey, we estimated an abundance of 45–50,000 individuals across all forests, representing ca. 80% of the global population. Though this is a relatively high abundance, the increasing threats in some of the Udzungwa forests are of continued concern for the long-term survival of red colobus and other primates in the area. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

PubMed | Malaysian Forest Research Institute, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, HP Inc., University of Indonesia and 17 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PLoS biology | Year: 2016

Extinction rates in the Anthropocene are three orders of magnitude higher than background and disproportionately occur in the tropics, home of half the worlds species. Despite global efforts to combat tropical species extinctions, lack of high-quality, objective information on tropical biodiversity has hampered quantitative evaluation of conservation strategies. In particular, the scarcity of population-level monitoring in tropical forests has stymied assessment of biodiversity outcomes, such as the status and trends of animal populations in protected areas. Here, we evaluate occupancy trends for 511 populations of terrestrial mammals and birds, representing 244 species from 15 tropical forest protected areas on three continents. For the first time to our knowledge, we use annual surveys from tropical forests worldwide that employ a standardized camera trapping protocol, and we compute data analytics that correct for imperfect detection. We found that occupancy declined in 22%, increased in 17%, and exhibited no change in 22% of populations during the last 3-8 years, while 39% of populations were detected too infrequently to assess occupancy changes. Despite extensive variability in occupancy trends, these 15 tropical protected areas have not exhibited systematic declines in biodiversity (i.e., occupancy, richness, or evenness) at the community level. Our results differ from reports of widespread biodiversity declines based on aggregated secondary data and expert opinion and suggest less extreme deterioration in tropical forest protected areas. We simultaneously fill an important conservation data gap and demonstrate the value of large-scale monitoring infrastructure and powerful analytics, which can be scaled to incorporate additional sites, ecosystems, and monitoring methods. In an era of catastrophic biodiversity loss, robust indicators produced from standardized monitoring infrastructure are critical to accurately assess population outcomes and identify conservation strategies that can avert biodiversity collapse.

Marshall A.R.,University of York | Marshall A.R.,Flamingo Land Ltd. | Jorgensbye H.I.O.,Copenhagen University | Rovero F.,Tropical Biodiversity | And 4 more authors.
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2010

This study investigates the species-area relationship (SAR) for forest monkeys in a biodiversity hotspot. The Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania are well-suited to investigate the SAR, with seven monkey species in a range of fragment sizes (0.06-526 km2). We test the relationship between species richness and forest fragment size, relative to human and environmental factors. We distinguish resident and transitory species because the latter have an "effective patch size" beyond the area of forest. Forest area was the strongest (log-linear) predictor of species richness. However, forest area, elevation range and annual moisture index were intercorrelated. Previous knowledge of the relationship between elevation and tree communities suggests that the SAR is largely a result of habitat heterogeneity. Isolation by farmland (matrix habitat) also had a significant negative effect on species richness, probably exacerbated by hunting in small forests. The effect of area and isolation was less for transitory species. The human influence on species' presence/absence was negatively related to the extent of occurrence. Weaker relationships with temperature and precipitation suggest underlying climatic influences, and give some support for the influence of productivity. A reduced area relationship for smaller forests suggests that fragment sizes below 12-40km2 may not be reliable for determining SAR in forest monkeys. Further practical implications are for management to encourage connectivity, and for future SAR research to consider residency, matrix classification and moisture besides precipitation. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ahumada J.A.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Silva C.E.F.,National Institute of Amazonian Research | Gajapersad K.,Conservation International Suriname | Hallam C.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 11 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Terrestrial mammals are a key component of tropical forest communities as indicators of ecosystem health and providers of important ecosystem services. However, there is little quantitative information about how they change with local, regional and global threats. In this paper, the first standardized pantropical forest terrestrial mammal community study, we examine several aspects of terrestrial mammal species and community diversity (species richness, species diversity, evenness, dominance, functional diversity and community structure) at seven sites around the globe using a single standardized camera trapping methodology approach. The sites-located in Uganda, Tanzania, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Suriname, Brazil and Costa Rica-are surrounded by different landscape configurations, from continuous forests to highly fragmented forests. We obtained more than 51 000 images and detected 105 species of mammals with a total sampling effort of 12 687 camera trap days. We find thatmammal communities from highly fragmented sites have lower species richness, species diversity, functional diversity and higher dominance when compared with sites in partially fragmented and continuous forest. We emphasize the importance of standardized camera trapping approaches for obtaining baselines for monitoring forest mammal communities so as to adequately understand the effect of global, regional and local threats and appropriately inform conservation actions. © 2011 The Royal Society.

Roberts T.E.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Roberts T.E.,National Evolutionary Synthesis Center | Davenport T.R.B.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Hildebrandt K.B.P.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 5 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2010

In the four years since its original description, the taxonomy of the kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji), a geographically restricted and critically endangered African monkey, has been the subject of much debate, and recent research suggesting that the first voucher specimen of Rungwecebus has baboon mitochondrial DNA has intensified the controversy. We show that Rungwecebus from a second region of Tanzania has a distinct mitochondrial haplotype that is basal to a clade containing all Papio species and the original Rungwecebus voucher, supporting the placement of Rungwecebus as the sister taxon of Papio and its status as a separate genus. We suggest that the Rungwecebus population in the Southern Highlands has experienced geographically localized mitochondrial DNA introgression from Papio, while the Ndundulu population retains the true Rungwecebus mitochondrial genome. © 2009 The Royal Society.

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