Conservation practitioners require strata specific, seasonal species densities for habitat management. Herein, we use stratified distance sampling in Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) with 200 spatial transects and an effort of 1200 km walk in the year 2013. Analysis was done to access (a) impact of human use and (b) effect of habitat and season on ungulate densities in KTR. While a single detection function for each species was used for estimating density within human-restricted core and multiple use buffer of KTR, species-specific seasonal detections were modelled for each habitat. Ungulate biomass was 4.8 times higher in the core area compared with the buffer zone. The core supported a herbivore density and biomass of 50 ± 4.80/km2 and 26,806 ± 2573 kg/km2, respectively. Chital were found to be most abundant, having a density of 30.1 ± 4.34/km2 and contributing 33 % of the biomass with a habitat preference for grasslands (106 ± 39/km2) in summer and winter. Sambar had highest density (15.4 ± 3.34/km2) in bamboo-mixed habitat, in both seasons. Gaur contributed 39 % of the ungulate biomass and showed a seasonal shift in density from sal forests (9.65 ± 3.55/km2) in summer to miscellaneous forests (8.13 ± 1.94/km2) in winter. Barasingha were restricted to grasslands with similar summer and winter densities of 1.56 ± 0.76/km2. Chousingha were rare (0.1 ± 0.04/km2), found mostly in miscellaneous forests and plateau grasslands. Grassland and bamboo-mixed forests supported 58 % of the total ungulate biomass. Management for an optimal habitat mosaic that maintains ungulate diversity, addresses the specific needs of endangered species and maximizes ungulate biomass is recommended.
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We thank Chief Wildlife Warden of Madhya Pradesh and management of Kanha Tiger Reserve for permissions and logistics for the study. We thank our field assistants Nirottam and Kanhaiya and the team of forest guards for their help in field data collection. We thank former deputy director Kanha, H.S. Mohanta and Research Officer Rakesh Shukla for logistic support and Swati Saini and Ninad Shastri for GIS inputs. This study was funded by National Tiger Conservation Authority, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change, Government of India. QQ & YVJ conceived the study, NA, UK & AP conducted the field work, JSC, QQ and YVJ provided logistic support and supervised the study, and NA, UK, QQ and YVJ did the data analysis and wrote the paper.
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Awasthi, N., Kumar, U., Qureshi, Q. et al. Effect of human use, season and habitat on ungulate density in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. Reg Environ Change 16 (Suppl 1), 31–41 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-0953-z