Publication Date

2009-01-01

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2009-03-24

First Committee Member

Steven M. Green - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

David Janos - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Michael Gaines - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

John F. Oates - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

This 11-month study examined rates of encountering dung pellet groups, dung piles and ungulates in gallery forests and non-gallery forests during diurnal surveys in the Loma Mountains Non-Hunting Forest Reserve (LMNHFR) in Sierra Leone, West Africa. These indices of relative abundance were then used to infer relative habitat use by the seven ungulate species on which data were collected. This study also examined the differences in rates of encountering duikers during nocturnal surveys with rates of encountering duikers during diurnal surveys to determine which time of day produces higher rates of encounter, and thereby a more accurate estimate of duiker abundance. The dung of four of the seven species, namely Cephalophus niger, Philantomba maxwelli, Tragelaphus scriptus, and Potamochoerus porcus is encountered at a higher rate in gallery forest than in non-gallery forest. Rates of encountering the dung of three species, C. silvicultor, C. dorsalis and Syncerus caffer nanus, do not differ between forest types. Rates of encountering four species, namely C. niger, P. maxwelli, T. scriptus, and C. silvicultor are higher in gallery forest than in non-gallery forest. Rates of encountering three species, namely C. dorsalis, S. caffer nanus, and P. porcus do not differ between forest types. Rates of encountering duikers ranged from three to six times higher during nocturnal surveys than during diurnal surveys for C. niger and P. maxwelli and 20 times higher for C. dorsalis. Survey timing did not affect the rate of encounter for C. silvicultor. Forest ungulates in the LMNHFR utilize gallery forests regularly. Possible reasons for the higher rates of encounter for six of the species in gallery forests compared with non-gallery forests are access to water, readily available browse resulting from annual fire damage on the periphery and interior of gallery forests, and easy access to cover for ungulates when foraging in adjacent grassland. Given the current rate of forest loss in West Africa, studies examining how forest mammals are able to persist in small forest fragments should be high priority for both government and conservation groups. The findings here give evidence that forest ungulates can and do use small areas of forest. Most importantly, the findings from this study show the global value of the LMNHFR for the conservation of large mammals endemic to the Upper Guinea Forests.

Keywords

Nocturnal Surveys; Relative Habitat Use; Sierra Leone; Potamochoerus Porcus; Syncerus Caffer Nanus; Tragelaphus Scriptus; Philantomba Maxwelli; Cephalophus Niger; Cephalophus Silvicultor; Cephalophus Dorsalis; Gallery Forest; Loma Mountains Non-hunting Forest Reserve; Encounter Rate

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