Spatial heterogeneity in the distribution and abundance of megafauna, chiefly wild ungulates and big cats can be driven both by variations in bottom-up (e.g. vegetation) and top-down (e.g. human disturbance) mechanisms. These tradeoffs in turn shapes the ecology of megafauna in a landscape. However, the relative influence of the above-mentioned factors to accommodate large mammals and humans is not always well established, particularly in biodiverse areas of developing countries. In this regard, the present study focuses on distribution and local abundances of selected wild ungulate species and big cats in a multi-use landscape in India. The study aims to first understand the effects of vegetation (species composition and cover), big cat occurrence, and human disturbances (people presence, livestock grazing and habitat edge effects) on the occurrence of ungulates. Secondly, to find out the subsequent bottom-up effects of wild ungulates on the distribution and abundance of big cats. In this proposed study I will investigate these relations in a study area spanning a gradient of human disturbance consisting of forests inside the Protected Areas and human dominated multi-use landscapes. To test these relations, spatially explicit models based on various types of field data such as line transects (counting wild ungulates), habitat assessment (vegetation plots), and camera trapping (counting presence of big cats) will be used to model occurrence across management units and human use. The proposed study will help to identify strategies for enabling the co-existence of large mammals in increasingly populous and fragmented multi-use landscapes and help in prioritizing mitigation measures.
|Effective start/end date||20/08/20 → …|
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