Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2417–2438 | Cite as

Large mammal diversity and their conservation in the human-dominated land-use mosaic of Sierra Leone

  • Terry Brncic
  • Bala Amarasekaran
  • Anita McKenna
  • Roger Mundry
  • Hjalmar S. KühlEmail author
Original Paper


Like elsewhere in West Africa, the landscapes of Sierra Leone are strongly human-dominated with consequences for large mammal distribution and diversity. Sierra Leone is currently going through a phase of post-war recovery, with accelerating development of the mining, forestry, agricultural and infrastructure sectors. As environmental issues are increasingly considered, comprehensive biodiversity information is required. Here we evaluate spatial patterns of large mammal diversity throughout Sierra Leone to make inferences about species persistence. We used systematic line transect sampling for assessing large mammal distribution. GLMs and canonical correspondence analyses were used to evaluate the relative importance of human impact for every species while controlling for environmental gradients and to make countrywide spatial model predictions. We further developed an algorithm to identify core distributional ranges for the most common species. A total of 562 km of transects were surveyed and 35 large mammal species encountered. Species diversity was impoverished in the country’s south and center and strongly increased towards the north and east. Human impact did not determine the distribution of four species (brushed-tailed porcupine, bushbuck, giant rat, warthog), but was very influential on chimpanzee and yellow-backed duiker occurrence with U-shaped and negative responses, respectively. The remaining species showed mixed responses to human impact and environmental gradients. Predicting species persistence in West African human-dominated landscapes is complex. Pooling of species for land-use planning is therefore not recommended. Our study provides key information for land-use planning to separate areas with post-depletion species assemblages from more diverse regions with high conservation value.


Core distributional range areas Distribution Hunting Line transect Post-depletion Spatial model 



We would like to thank the following for their support in this project: The Tacugama Census Field Team; The Government of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Forestry Division; DACO/Sierra Leone Information Services for the provision of essential mapping data; Max Planck Society; Robert Bosch Foundation; Dr. John F. Oates, Frands Carlsen, Dr. Rosa Garriga, Maria Finnigan, Dr. Jessica Ganas-Swaray, the Gola Forest Programme, Tessa Wiggans, and Tacugama staff for support and guidance; the many donors who funded the work and the anonymous reviewers who provided very constructive feedback to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2015_931_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 27 kb)
10531_2015_931_MOESM2_ESM.docx (77 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 78 kb)
10531_2015_931_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 1169 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Brncic
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bala Amarasekaran
    • 2
  • Anita McKenna
    • 2
  • Roger Mundry
    • 3
  • Hjalmar S. Kühl
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.World Resources InstituteKinshasaDemocratic Republic of Congo
  2. 2.Tacugama Chimpanzee SanctuaryFreetownSierra Leone
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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