An analysis of the habitat of the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicorns (Mammalia: Perissodactyla: Rhinocerotidae) at the Chitwan National Park, Nepal

V. Thapa, M.F. Acevedo, K.P. Limbu


We used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and landscape-level data obtained from remote sensing sources to build a habitat suitability index model (HSI) for the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis. The model was based primarily on important habitat requisites of the modeled species, especially food and cover. We extracted food and cover from land cover map and ran focal statistics to determine their proportion in a neighborhood of 70x70 pixels that accounts for the animal’s average mean annual home range, which is ~4km2 = 400 ha = 70x70 pixels x 900 m2 = 4410000/10000 = 441 ha. We used two arbitrarily selected parameters a and Tc to observe the impacts of food and cover on the HSI. We performed sensitivity analysis by varying values of parameters around their nominal, which revealed that the HSI value of a pixel is changed with uncertainty with very low values of a fraction of the food or cover. We identified four habitat types from the HSI map. We used patch and class metrics of FRAGSTATS program to estimate the amount and fragmentation of each habitat type. The metrics provided composition and configuration status for all four habitat types. We found a presence of a total of 476 patches with 517.82km2 belonging to suitable habitat type. These areas can be targeted for management, monitoring and improvement to provide habitat for the target and sympatric species.

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Copyright (c) 2014 V. Thapa, M.F. Acevedo, K.P. Limbu

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