Mapping attack hotspots to mitigate human–carnivore conflict: approaches and applications of spatial predation risk modeling
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- Miller, J.R.B. Biodivers Conserv (2015) 24: 2887. doi:10.1007/s10531-015-0993-6
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A major challenge in carnivore conservation worldwide is identifying priority human–carnivore conflict sites where mitigation efforts would be most effective. Spatial predation risk modeling recently emerged as a tool for predicting and mapping hotspots of livestock depredation using locations where carnivores attacked livestock in the past. This literature review evaluates the approaches and applications of spatial risk modeling for reducing human–carnivore conflict and presents a workflow to help conservation practitioners use this tool. Over the past decade 18 studies were published, most which examined canid and felid (10 and 8 studies on each group, respectively) depredation on cattle (14) and sheep (12). Studies employed correlation modeling, spatial association and/or spatial interpolation to identify high-risk landscape features, and many (but not all) validated models with independent data. The landscape features associated with carnivore attacks related to the species (carnivore and prey), environment, human infrastructure and management interventions. Risk maps from most studies (14) were used to help livestock owners and managers identify top-priority areas for implementing carnivore deterrents, with some efforts achieving >90 % reductions in attacks. Only one study affected policy, highlighting a gap where risk maps could be useful for more clearly communicating information to assist policymakers with large-scale decisions on conflict. Studies were used to develop a six-step workflow on integrating risk modeling into conservation. This review reveals a need for future predation risk modeling to focus more on validating models, accounting for feedbacks and impacting conflict-related policy in order to reliably improve the mitigation of human–carnivore conflict globally.