Resource use of Japanese macaques in heavy snowfall areas: implications for habitat management
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- Enari, H. & Sakamaki–Enari, H. Primates (2013) 54: 259. doi:10.1007/s10329-013-0343-9
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Populations of Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) that inhabit the northernmost distribution of any nonhuman primates have been listed as endangered in Japan; however, macaques are widely known for being pests that cause agricultural damage. This study identified priority areas for the conservation and management of macaque habitats, by comparing the resource use of troops occupying remote mountains (montane troops) against troops inhabiting disturbed forests adjacent to settlements (rural troops). We collected species presence data across 2 years by radio-tracking two montane troops and two rural troops in the Shirakami Mountains. We developed seasonal utilization distributions by using the kernel method, and identified habitat characteristics by using ecological-niche factor analysis (ENFA). Our results indicate that environmental factors influencing the potential habitat varied widely with season in montane troops as compared with that in rural troops. ENFA results demonstrated that rural troops exhibited more biased resource use and narrower niche breadths than montane troops. Based on our findings, we propose that (1) primary broadleaf forests are the spring habitat conservation priority of montane troops; (2) the habitat unit—the product of habitat suitability index and its surface area—for montane troops is enhanced by removing old conifer plantations from the forest edge at low elevations; (3) such removal around settlements may also contribute toward removing a frontline refuge for rural troops intruding farmlands; and (4) intensive prevention measures against macaque intrusions into settlements during the bottleneck snowy season contribute toward reducing the habitat unit of rural troops.