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Habitat suitability modeling of endangered primates in Nigeria: integrating satellite remote sensing and spatial modeling techniques

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>13/10/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)23-38
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper investigates the impacts of forest cover and spatial structure changes on the forest
landscape across Afi-Mbe-Okwangwo protected area of Cross River State, Nigeria and its corresponding implication on two endangered primates (Cross River Gorilla and Nigeria-Cameroon
Chimpanzee) habitat using satellite remote sensing and modeling techniques. Using remote
sensing change detection analysis, the spatial extent and annual rate of deforestation for the
study area was determined as 34,620 hectares and 1.5% respectively (from 2000 to 2014). The
protected areas with highest annual deforestation rates were Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
(2.6%) and Mbe Mountains (2.2%), both prominent for gorilla and chimpanzee sightings and
nests. Further investigations on changes to the forest landscape structure revealed high levels of
forest fragmentation across the study area for the 14-year period investigated. As a means of
further understanding effects of forest landscapes changes across the study area, a 14-year forward simulation was performed using the Markov model as to determine the spatial extent of
futuristic forest cover changes. The results showed that if this current trend of forest cover
change continued, 28,121 hectares of forests would be lost to deforestation in 2028 (approximately 16% of the total landmass of the entire study area). Using Maxent modeling, suitable primate habitats were predicted and the total coverage determined as 30,940 hectares (54.4% situated in CRNP—Okwangwo division, 29.4% in AMWS, 14.3% in Mbe Mountains and 1.9% in ARFR). Further analysis revealed 6468 hectares of predicted primate habitat were affected by deforestation in 2014 (21% of the predicted primate habitats). These results indicate that suitable
primate habitats (particularly for gorillas and chimpanzees) are under immense pressure from
deforestation and forest fragmentation. This paper presents a cost effective and time saving approach for determining suitable primate habitats and understanding the effects of forest transition on primate habitat suitability.