Spatial density patterns of herbivore response to seasonal dynamics in the tropical deciduous forest of central India
Strong seasonality of dry tropical forests causes variations in vegetation and therefore food resources for animals. This study investigates the seasonal distribution patterns between summer and winter of four ungulate species (Rusa unicolor, Axis axis, Bocephalus tragocamelus, and Sus scrofa) in the Panna Tiger Reserve in India. Ungulates tend to gravitate towards areas that are cooler with more vegetation, and at higher elevations.
Goals and Methods
The authors use density surface modeling (DSM) to track seasonal distribution patterns of four ungulate species across the summer and winter months for three years. This model combines spatial modeling techniques with distance sampling and allows for accessible map interpretation to non-specialists. The authors use distance sampling protocol and collect data in transects across the Panna Tiger Reserve. They record sightings of the four ungulates as well as the location of the sightings and the ungulate species and group size.
Conclusions and Takeaways
The authors report that seasonality significantly determines all four ungulates distribution and density. Anthropogenic influence and habitat characteristics (predator presence, vegetation density) also account for part of the distribution. In the summer months, ungulates tend to gravitate heavily towards the remaining dense patches of forest and away from plateau regions as vegetation and resources are thin and heat is intense. During the wet winter months, distribution of ungulates is more even throughout the forest, with plateau regions being preferable due to the abundance of resources post-monsoon. The authors report that these results may help more effective planning of conservation strategies for ungulates by more accurately predicting their location and priority conservation areas.
Spatial density patterns of herbivore response to seasonal dynamics in the tropical deciduous forest of central India. Biotropica. 2023;55(2):430 - 443. doi:10.1111/btp.v55.210.1111/btp.13197..