Where and how are roads endangering mammals in Southeast Asia’s forests?

Where and how are roads endangering mammals in Southeast Asia’s forests?

Habitat destruction and overhunting are two major drivers of mammal population declines and extinctions in tropical forests. The construction of roads can be a catalyst for these two threats. In Southeast Asia, the impacts of roads on mammals have not been well-documented at a regional scale. Before evidence-based conservation strategies can be developed to minimize the threat of roads to endangered mammals within this region, we first need to locate where and how roads are contributing to the conversion of their habitats and illegal hunting in each country. We interviewed 36 experts involved in mammal research from seven Southeast Asian countries to identify roads that are contributing the most, in their opinion, to habitat conversion and illegal hunting. Our experts highlighted 16 existing and eight planned roads – these potentially threaten 21% of the 117 endangered terrestrial mammals in those countries. Apart from gathering qualitative evidence from the literature to assess their claims, we demonstrate how species-distribution models, satellite imagery and animal-sign surveys can be used to provide quantitative evidence of roads causing impacts by (1) cutting through habitats where endangered mammals are likely to occur, (2) intensifying forest conversion, and (3) contributing to illegal hunting and wildlife trade. To our knowledge, ours is the first study to identify specific roads threatening endangered mammals in Southeast Asia. Further through highlighting the impacts of roads, we propose 10 measures to limit road impacts in the region.

Authors: Clements, G.R.; Lynam, A.J.; Gaveau, D.L.A.; Wei, L.Y.; Lhota, S.; Goosem, M.; Laurance, S.; Laurance, W.F.

Topic: habitat destruction,hunting,tropical forests,endangered species,mammals

Geographic: South East Asia

Publication Year: 2014

ISSN: 1932-6203

Source: PLoS ONE 9(12): 25p

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115376

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