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Habitat fragmentation and logging affects the occurrence of the lesser mouse deer in tropical forest reserves

Citation

Azhar, Badrul (2021), Habitat fragmentation and logging affects the occurrence of the lesser mouse deer in tropical forest reserves , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jdfn2z38s

Abstract

Due to rapid urbanization, logging, and agricultural expansion, forest fragmentation is negatively affecting native wildlife populations throughout the tropics. This study examined the effects of landscape and habitat characteristics on the lesser mouse deer, Tragulus kanchil, populations in Peninsular Malaysia. A total of 315 camera traps were deployed in eight forest reserves. This study provides critical ecological information for managing and conserving understudied populations of T. kanchil. We found that the detection of T. kanchil was attributed to forest fragmentation. Forest patches had the detection of T. kanchil four times greater than continuous forests. The detection of T. kanchil was nearly three times higher in the peat swamp forest compared to the lowland dipterocarp forests. Surprisingly, the detection of T. kanchil was almost twice lower in the unlogged forests compared to logged forests. The detection of T. kanchil increased with the presence of trees, particularly those with DBH of 5 cm to 45 cm, canopy cover, number of saplings and palms, number of dead fallen trees, and distance from nearest roads. However, detection decreased with a greater number of trees with a DBH greater than 45 cm and higher elevation. We recommend that conservation stakeholders take the necessary steps to support the conservation of mouse deer species and its natural habitats regardless of whether these forests are fragmented or continuous. These steps include eradicating poaching, habitat degradation, and further deforestation.

Methods

Camera trapping was conducted between March 2013 and April 2018. Thirty cameras (Bushnell Trophy Cam and Bushnell Trophy Cam HD) were used in the survey. The cameras operated 24 hours per day and were left for two weeks to maximize the number of detections and obtain sufficient data for analysis (Nichols & Karanth, 2002). The infrared feature of the Bushnell Trophy Cam consists of a sensor triggered by motion and heat. The camera was set to capture three images per second, with a 1- or 10-second interval between. The cameras were fixed on trees at the height of 30 cm to 50 cm above the ground at angles facing the animal trails. The images captured were sorted down to species level, with species other than T. kanchil excluded from the analysis (Figure 2).  Overexposure and unclear images that led to unidentified species were also excluded (Sasidhran et al., 2016). Mousedeer detection in the camera traps was represented by the number of photographic images recorded at each of the 315 sites.