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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 17:237-244 (2012)  -  DOI:

Endangered Grevy’s zebra in the Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve, Ethiopia: species distribution modeling for the determination of optimum habitat

Fanuel Kebede1,*, Afework Bekele2, Patricia D. Moehlman3, Paul H. Evangelista4

1Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, Box 386, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2Department of Biology, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
3IUCN/SSC Equid Specialist Group, Box 2031, Arusha, Tanzania
4Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1499, USA

ABSTRACT: Habitat loss due to human-induced factors is intensifying and is a critical threat to most endangered species. Grevy’s zebra Equus grevyi is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Human encroachment on its natural habitat and poaching are the greatest threats to this species’ survival in the wild. Grevy’s zebra only occur within a few isolated areas in Ethiopia and Kenya. Effective conservation interventions based on scientific information are needed to safeguard this species from extinction. Wildlife managers need to identify the extent of the remaining suitable habitat and achieve a better understanding of human and wildlife interactions if they are to facilitate appropriate conservation strategies. The present study employed the maximum entropy model (Maxent), a species distribution modeling approach, to determine the geographic extent of habitat and seasonal distribution of Grevy’s zebra in the Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve, Ethiopia, and to use this information to determine the optimum demarcation of conservation boundaries. Field surveys were conducted 4 times annually, twice during the wet season and twice during the dry season, for 2 yr. Field data and predictor variables were separated into 2 seasons, and models were generated for each season independently. Seasonal maximum temperatures, distance to human settlements and slope were the best predictors for both the dry and wet seasons. Evaluations of model performances were high, with AUC (area under the receiver operating curve) values of 0.96 and 0.97 for the dry and wet seasons, respectively. Our results will be critical for modifying the existing boundaries of the Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve and directing conservation strategies for the Grevy’s zebra.

KEY WORDS: Endangered species · Ethiopia · Grevy’s zebra · Habitat modeling · Maxent model

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Cite this article as: Kebede F, Bekele A, Moehlman PD, Evangelista PH (2012) Endangered Grevy’s zebra in the Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve, Ethiopia: species distribution modeling for the determination of optimum habitat. Endang Species Res 17:237-244.

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