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Urban forest fragmentation impoverishes native mammalian biodiversity in the tropics.


ABSTRACT: Urban expansion has caused major deforestation and forest fragmentation in the tropics. The impacts of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity are understudied in urban forest patches, especially in the tropics and little is known on the conservation value of the patches for maintaining mammalian biodiversity. In this study, camera trapping was used to determine the species composition and species richness of medium- and large-sized mammals in three urban forest patches and a contiguous forest in Peninsular Malaysia. We identified the key vegetation attributes that predicted mammal species richness and occurrence of herbivores and omnivores in urban forest patches. A total number of 19 mammal species from 120 sampling points were recorded. Contiguous forest had the highest number of species compared to the urban forest patches. Sunda Pangolin and Asian Tapir were the only conservation priority species recorded in the urban forest patches and contiguous forest, respectively. Top predators such as Malayan Tiger and Melanistic Leopard were completely absent from the forest patches as well as the contiguous forest. This was reflected by the abundance of wild boars. We found that mammal species richness increased with the number of trees with DBH less than 5 cm, trees with DBH more than 50 cm, and dead standing trees. In the future, the remaining mammal species in the urban forest patches are expected to be locally extinct as connecting the urban forest patches may be infeasible due to land scarcity. Hence, to maintain the ecological integrity of urban forest patches, we recommend that stakeholders take intervention measures such as reintroduction of selected species and restocking of wild populations in the urban forest patches to regenerate the forest ecosystems.

SUBMITTER: Tee SL 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6308867 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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