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Fading of the last giants: an assessment of habitat availability of the Sunda gharial Tomistoma schlegelii and coverage with protected areas

Authors

  • Dennis Rödder,

    Corresponding author
    1. Biogeography Department, Trier University, Am Wissenschaftspark 25+27, 54296 Trier, Germany
    2. Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, UESC, Rodovia Ilhéus-Itabuna, km 16, Salobrinho, 45662-000–Ilhéus, BA, Brazil
    • Trier University Biogeography Department, Am Wissenschaftspark 25–27, 54296 Trier, Germany
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  • Jan O. Engler,

    1. Biogeography Department, Trier University, Am Wissenschaftspark 25+27, 54296 Trier, Germany
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  • René Bonke,

    1. Herpetology Department, Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauer Allee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany
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  • Frank Weinsheimer,

    1. Herpetology Department, Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauer Allee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany
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  • Weslei Pertel

    1. Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, UESC, Rodovia Ilhéus-Itabuna, km 16, Salobrinho, 45662-000–Ilhéus, BA, Brazil
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Abstract

  • 1.The Sunda gharial Tomistoma schlegelii is, with 2500–3000 remaining specimens, one of the least studied and at the same time most endangered crocodile species. Inhabiting peat swamps in Southeast Asia, threats affecting the species are mainly associated with habitat loss and illegal hunting.
  • 2.The effectiveness of the existing reserve network in Southeast Asia for the protection of the Sunda garial was assessed by combining spatially explicit habitat analyses derived from land cover information with species distribution modelling. Subsequently, possible improvements of the existing reserve network are derived from the habitat availability analyses.
  • 3.The results of the spatially explicit analyses indicate that suitable habitats for the Sunda gharial in Southeast Asia, i.e. peat swamps and riverine forests, are highly fragmented. Spatial coverage of remaining habitats with protected areas fulfilling IUCN standards generally varies among regions and is best in Indonesia. However, large, currently unprotected suitable areas remain in Sumatra. Establishment of 10 additional, already proposed reserves may improve the protection of major parts of the remaining suitable habitats of the Sunda gharial.
  • 4.According to the results of this study, the reserve network protecting this species could be significantly improved by expanding it to include seven national reserves not currently listed by the IUCN and an additional 10 reserves that have recently been proposed. Improvements and extensions of the existing reserve networks in Southeast Asia are pivotal to guarantee the long-term survival of the Sunda gharial. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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