Friday 6 May 2016

Mapping software tracks threats to endangered species

Software helps conservationists predict species movement

Date: April 12, 2016
Source: Duke University

Habitat mapping software and satellite imagery can help conservationists predict the movements of endangered species in remote or inaccessible regions and pinpoint areas where conservation efforts should be prioritized, a new Duke University-led case study shows.

The Duke team used the software and images to assess recent forest loss restricting the movement of Peru's critically endangered San Martin titi monkey (Callicebus oenanthe) and identify the 10 percent of remaining forest in the species' range that presents the best opportunity for conservation.

"Using these tools, we were able to work with a local conservation organization to rapidly pinpoint areas where reforestation and conservation have the best chance of success," said Danica Schaffer-Smith, a doctoral student at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study. "Comprehensive on-the-ground assessments would have taken much more time and been cost-prohibitive given the inaccessibility of much of the terrain and the fragmented distribution and rare nature of this species."

The San Martin titi monkey inhabits an area about the size of Connecticut in the lowland forests of north central Peru. It was recently added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.
Increased farming, logging, mining and urbanization have fragmented forests across much of the monkey's once-remote native range and contributed to an estimated 80 percent decrease in its population over the last 25 years.

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