A multiscale analysis and quantification of human impacts on Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) habitat in Riau, Sumatra
Poor, Erin Elizabeth
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Worldwide, we are losing biodiversity at unprecedented rates, and due to deforestation, degradation and poaching, Southeast Asian wildlife is facing extreme threats. Indonesia recently eclipsed Brazil in having the world's highest deforestation rate, largely due to the rise of the palm oil industry. Indonesia contains multiple biodiversity hotspots and endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae). While Riau Province, Sumatra, produces approximately 20% of the world's palm oil, tigers still inhabit parts of Riau, though their habitat and prey are understudied. Thus, in this research, I aim to assess and quantify how tiger habitat has changed, how it will continue to change, and provide recommendations on how to improve the landscape for tigers. I create the first accuracy-assessed land cover maps of Riau, and then predict land cover change from 2016 – 2050. Using this newly created land cover map, I assess whether Tesso Nilo National Park, Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, and Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve are effective at preventing deforestation. Next, I examine human impacts within Tesso Nilo specifically, due to its suitability for oil palm and its potential as a stepping stone for wildlife movement from the western, mountains to the eastern peatlands of Sumatra. Finally, I examine impacts of human presence within Rimbang Baling on felid-prey relationships. I predict that by 2050, over 60% of natural forest in Riau will be lost, and all protected areas only confer low levels of protection. I determined that Tesso Nilo National Park has nearly 2500 km of roads within it and no areas within the park are untouched by humans. Wildlife detections were low near the boundary of Rimbang Baling and there was evidence of humans negatively impacting mousedeer (Tragulus spp) behavior. I suggest focusing on securing the habitat within Rimbang Baling and Bukit Tigapuluh to ensure habitat for dispersing tigers from the western mountains, in addition to, and perhaps before focusing on restoring Tesso Nilo and creating wildlife corridors. While tiger recovery in Riau will be difficult, with education, dedication, persistence and intelligent planning, tigers may be able to persist in this unique ecosystem in the long-term.
- Doctoral Dissertations