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Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Supplement 1, pp 53–67 | Cite as

Connecting the dots: mapping habitat connectivity for tigers in central India

  • Trishna Dutta
  • Sandeep Sharma
  • Brad H. McRae
  • Parth Sarathi Roy
  • Ruth DeFries
Original Article

Abstract

Large connected landscapes are paramount to maintain top predator populations. Across their range, tiger (Panthera tigris) populations occur in small fragmented patches of habitat, often isolated by large distances in human-dominated landscapes. We assessed connectivity between 16 protected areas (PAs) in central India, a global priority landscape for tiger conservation, using data on land use and land cover, human population density, and transportation infrastructure. We identified and prioritized movement routes using a combination of least-cost corridor modeling and circuit theory. Our analyses suggest that there are several opportunities to maintain connectivity in this landscape. We mapped a total of thirty-five linkages in the region and calculated metrics to estimate their quality and importance. The highest quality linkages as measured by the ratio of cost-weighted distance to Euclidean distance are Kanha–Phen/Bandhavgarh–SanjayGhasidas/Melghat–Satpura, and cost-weighted distance to least-cost path length are Nawegaon–Tadoba/Achanakmar–SanjayGhasidas/Kanha–Phen. We used current flow centrality to evaluate the contribution of each PA and linkage toward facilitating animal movement. Values are highest for Kanha and Pench tiger reserves, and the linkages between Kanha–Phen, Kanha–Pench, and Pench–Satpura, suggesting that these PAs and linkages play a critical role in maintaining connectivity in central India. In addition, smaller areas such as Bor, Nawegaon, and Phen have high centrality scores relative to their areas and thus may act as important stepping stones. We mapped pinch points, which are sections of the linkages where tiger movement is restricted due to unfavorable habitat, transportation networks, human habitation, or a combination of factors. Currently, very limited data exist on tiger movement outside of PAs to validate model results. Regional-scale connectivity mapping efforts can assist managers and policy makers to develop strategic plans for balancing wildlife conservation and other land uses in the landscape.

Keywords

Tiger Central India Connectivity Habitat linkages Landscape conservation Pinch points Pantheratigris 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Trishna Dutta is a NatureNet Post-Doctoral fellow with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and she would like to thank TNC for supporting her research. This manuscript benefited from a TNC-funded writing workshop held in Santa Barbara in Jan 2015. We are thankful to Prasanth Meiyappan for sharing the shape files of the sub-district level population data, India Census 2001. Trishna would also like to thank Pinki Mondal and Meghna Agarwala who answered many questions during this work.

Supplementary material

10113_2015_877_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2916 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trishna Dutta
    • 1
  • Sandeep Sharma
    • 2
  • Brad H. McRae
    • 3
  • Parth Sarathi Roy
    • 4
  • Ruth DeFries
    • 1
  1. 1.E3B, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Conservation Biology InstituteWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.The Nature Conservancy, North America RegionFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Center for Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

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