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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 2395–2423 | Cite as

A habitat suitability analysis at multi-spatial scale of two sympatric flying fox species reveals the urgent need for conservation action

  • Mohamed Thani Ibouroi
  • Ali Cheha
  • Guillelme Astruc
  • Said Ali Ousseni Dhurham
  • Aurélien Besnard
Original Paper

Abstract

In this study we used a multi-spatial scale approach to investigate habitat suitability, roosting characteristics, and ecological niche in two flying fox species on the Comoros Islands—Pteropus livingstonii and Pteropus seychellensis comorensis. At a broad scale, we assessed the ecological niche and habitat suitability for both species using the Species Distribution Modeling method based on the recent ensembles of small models (ESM) approach. At a fine scale, Ecological Niche Factor Analysis (ENFA) was applied to assess habitat selection by each species. Direct observation was used at each roost to estimate the total number of individuals and to identify the roost characteristics. At both broad and fine scales, the analyses highlighted clear niche partitioning by the two species. We found that P. livingstonii has a very limited distribution, restricted to steep, high-elevation slopes of the islands’ remaining natural forests, and the patterns were the same for roosting, foraging sites and the entire habitat. By contrast, P. s. comorensis has a relatively large geographic range that extends over low-elevation farmlands and villages and it was negatively correlated to natural forest across the entire area and all roosting sites, but its foraging areas were positively correlated to natural forest and high elevation areas. Both species selected large, tall trees for roosting. The total number of individuals in the studied area was estimated to be 1243 P. livingstonii and 11,898 P. s. comorensis. The results of our study demonstrated that these two species use different habitat types and ensure different ecosystem services in pollination and seed dispersion and thus are both critical for maintaining overall ecosystem dynamics. However, the currently high level of hunting pressure and roost disturbance makes them vulnerable to extinction. To ensure the viability of both species, conservation measures need to be taken by the Comoros government.

Keywords

Comoros Islands Ecosystem services Ensembles of small models Habitat loss Pteropodidae Species distribution modeling 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Comoros National Direction of Environment and Forests for the permission to conduct our fieldwork. A significant part of the fieldwork was funded by the Rufford Foundation through a Research Support Grant. We are also grateful to Frank Breiner and Cyril Bernard for their guidance in the Ensembles of Small Models and Geographic Information System methods respectively. Many thanks to the three anonymous reviewers of this manuscript; they provided extensive and critical corrections and comments for the improvement. We would also like to thank Ihsane Lahlou (from the Comorian NGO Dahari) for his assistance during the initial fieldwork, as well as everyone who assisted in the study: Andilyat Mohamed Abdérémane at the University of Comoros herbarium laboratory for his help determining the scientific names of plants, Ishaka Saïd and Jean Amed.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1544_MOESM1_ESM.docx (719 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 719 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed Thani Ibouroi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ali Cheha
    • 3
    • 4
  • Guillelme Astruc
    • 1
  • Said Ali Ousseni Dhurham
    • 3
  • Aurélien Besnard
    • 1
  1. 1.EPHE, PSL Research University, CNRS, UM, SupAgro, IRD, INRA, UMR 5175, CEFEMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Institut des Sciences et Industrie du Vivant et de l’environnement, AgroParisTechParisFrance
  3. 3.Groupe d’Intervention pour le Développement Durable (GIDD) MoroniHamrambaComoros
  4. 4.Centre National de Documentation et de la Recherche Scientifique (CNDRS)MoroniComoros

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