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Potential Distribution of Snow Leopard Habitat Area in the Context of Climate Change: A Modeling Based Approach
Dr. Menaka Kumari Panta Neupane, Mr. Hari Basnet, Mr. Prabhat Raj Dahal, Mr. Sujan Khanal, Mr. Ayush Adhikari, Ms. Anu Rai, Mr. Gopal Raj Khanal

Last modified: 2017-08-31

Abstract


The Snow Leopard Panthera uncia has been assessed as Endangered nationally due to small population size & restricted to high Himalaya with lack of connectivity between areas of suitable habitat. Furthermore, Himalayan region is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change which has warmed three times more than the global average. Therefore, it’s essential to generate Snow Leopards habitat areas in the context of climate change which is the aim of this study.

A total of 241 geo-referenced points along with various environmental variables and pseudo absences were used as the input variables. Ensemble modelling approach was used to produce the potential habitat area for the current and future climatic scenarios i.e. RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenario. We estimated 23,413 km² area with high and moderate potential habitat areas (>60% probability) for Snow Leopards under current climatic conditions. The total potential habitat area loss for the RCP 4.5 scenario in 2050 and 2070 was

estimated to be 12,670 km² (46%) and 10,437 (56%) km² respectively. Similarly, for the RCP 8.5 scenario loss in the potential habitat area was 12,198 km² (48%) and 14,188 km² (39%) for 2050 and 2070 respectively. The mean annual temperature, temperature of the warmest quarter and elevation were most important variables for accounted for the change in potential habitat areas. The results generated by this study could be useful for the conservation planners and policy makers to reduce the risks of future biodiversity losses for safeguarding the habitat of Snow Leopard.

Key words: Snow Leopard, Climate Change, Ensemble modelling, Habitat area, Habitat loss

 


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