Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Indian Institute of Forest Management

2 Department of Zoology, Lucknow University

10.22120/jwb.2020.120246.1111

Abstract

The vulture, an immensely invaluable service provider, has been reported to have plummeted to its lowest numbers in the recent past, causing serious concerns. Hence, a habitat study has become imperative for planning the conservation and recovery of this endangered species. Central India (Madhya Pradesh), one of the strongholds of the vulture and the study site, supports numerous vulture locations and individuals belonging to seven vulture species. MaxEnt based species distribution modeling was chosen for the prediction of habitat suitability, to identify the prediction-impacting environmental variables, and to compare the area expanse of different species. Predicted potential habitat distributions maps of all vultures together and seven vulture species have been prepared. The performance accuracy of all the models was in a very high range (average AUC= 0.938). Though 77% - 89% area is negligibly suitable to different species, Himalayan Griffon, Cinereous and Egyptian vultures had larger areas as compared to Long-billed, Eurasian Griffon, White-rumped and Red-headed vultures. Out of 23 variables used in the modeling, landuse-land cover (forest and waterbody), isothermality and precipitation seasonality were the prominent determinants of the distribution of all the species. Agriculture and elevation played a minimal role. The data generated in the study could be used for the planning of vulture recovery by conservation and reintroduction. The less suitable areas could also be used for the management of ecologically plastic species by modifying such landscape into agroforestry including animal husbandry.

Keywords