Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2021, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (1): 30-42.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2021.01.004

• Animal Ecology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Study of Vulture Habitat Suitability and Impact of Climate Change in Central India Using MaxEnt

Kaushalendra K. JHA1,*(), Radhika JHA2   

  1. 1. Indian Institute of Forest Management, Nehru Nagar, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462003, India
    2. Department of Zoology, University of Lucknow, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226007, India
  • Received:2020-06-16 Accepted:2020-08-15 Online:2021-01-30 Published:2021-03-30
  • Contact: Kaushalendra K. JHA

Abstract:

Vultures provide invaluable ecosystem services and play an important role in ecosystem balancing. The number of native vultures in India has declined in the past. Acquiring present knowledge of their habitat spread is essential to manage and prevent such a decline. It is envisaged that ongoing climate crisis may further cause change in habitat suitability and impact the existing population. Therefore, this study in Central India—a vulture stronghold, is aimed at predicting habitat changes in the short and long term and present the data statistically and graphically by using Species Distribution Model. MaxEnt software was chosen for its advantages over other models, like using presence-only data and performing well with incomplete data, small sample sizes and gaps, etc. Global Climate Model ensemble (CCSM4, HadGEM2AO and MIROC5), was used to get better prediction. Fourteen robust models (AUC 0.864-0.892) were developed using data from over 1000 locations of seven vulture species over two seasons together. Selected climatic and other environmental variables were used to predict the current habitat. Future prediction was based on climatic variables only. The most important variables influencing the distribution were precipitation (bio 15, bio 18, bio 19) and temperature (bio 3, bio 5). Forest and water bodies were the major influencers within land use-landcover in the current prediction. At finer scale, while extremely suitable habitat area decreased and highly suitable area increased over time, the total suitable area marginally increased in 2050 but decreased in 2070. For broader consideration, net loss in suitable area was 5% in 2050 and 7.17% in 2070 (RCP4.5). Similarly, in the RCP8.5 this was 6% in 2050 and 7.3% in 2070. The data generated can be used in conservation planning and management and thus protecting the vultures from any future threat.

Key words: ensemble climate model, Indian vulture-stronghold, long term impact, short term impact, species distribution modelling, vulture habitats