Trends in Wildlife Connectivity Science from the Biodiverse and Human-Dominated South Asia
|Trends in Wildlife Connectivity Science from the Biodiverse and Human-Dominated South Asia
|Year of Publication
|Thatte P, Tyagi A, Neelakantan A, Natesh M, Sen M, Thekaekara T
|JOURNAL OF THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
The threat of habitat fragmentation and population isolation looms large over much of biodiversity in this human-dominated epoch. Species-rich South Asia is made particularly vulnerable by its high human density and anthropogenic habitat modification. Therefore, reliably estimating wildlife connectivity and the factors underpinning it become crucial in mitigating extinction risk due to isolation. We analysed peer-reviewed literature on connectivity and corridors for terrestrial mammals in South Asia to identify trends in connectivity research. We identify key research gaps and highlight future directions that may aid efforts to robustly study connectivity. We found a significant bias towards charismatic megafauna and their habitats. Methodologically, although we observed a range of approaches reflecting some of the advances and innovations in the field, several studies lacked data on animal movement/behaviour, leading to potentially biased inferences of how species disperse through human-modified landscapes. New avenues for connectivity research, though currently under-explored in South Asia, offer alternatives to the heavily used but less-reliable habitat suitability models. We highlight the advantages of landscape genetic methods that reflect effective dispersal and are made feasible through non-invasive and increasingly more cost-effective sampling methods. We also identify important gaps or areas of focus that need to be addressed going forward, including accounting for animal movement/behaviour, human impacts and landscape change for dynamic and adaptive connectivity planning for the future.