Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Predictive niche modelling to identify potential areas of conflicts between human activities and expanding predator populations: a case study of game management and the grey mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon, in Spain

Mariano R. Recio A B D and Emilio Virgós C

A Department of Zoology, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.

B Spatial Ecology Research Facility (SERF), School of Surveying, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.

C Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, Departamento Biología y Geología, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, C/Tulipán s/n, E-28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain.

D Corresponding author. Email: mariano.recio@gmail.com

Wildlife Research 37(4) 343-354 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR09096
Submitted: 22 July 2009  Accepted: 14 May 2010   Published: 28 June 2010


Context. The grey mongoose, Herpestes ichneumon L., is a protected species in Spain. Populations of grey mongoose are currently increasing in numbers, and potential conflicts with human interests involving predation of small-game species, may arise in the near future.

Aims. We predicted potential suitable areas for the expansion of grey mongoose by using a niche modelling approach to detect areas of conflict with small-game hunting activities.

Methods. We compared these areas with regions in which small-game hunting is an important economic activity. To produce a niche-suitability map we used Maxent and an internal (data-splitting) validation to assess the predictive performance of the model. Areas in which small-game hunting is important were identified by using a rabbit-abundance index.

Key results. On the basis of suitability modelling, populations of grey mongoose will expand into southern and central Spain. The variables with higher predictive power are mainly climatic, although some mosaic habitat types are also important. Internal validation reveals a strong correspondence between predicted and observed records. The overlap of high-suitability areas with areas assigned with a high rabbit-abundance index indicated the existence of large regions of potential conflict with hunting interests.

Conclusions. Predictions of niche modelling can be used to detect conflict areas between expanding species and human interests. As a consequence of the expansion of the grey mongoose, the incidence of non-selective predator control may increase, thereby posing a threat to other protected predators.

Implications. Identified areas of likely conflict should be prioritised to delineate careful management programs in terms of people education, surveying, incentives and the detection of illegal predator-control activities.

Additional keywords: invasive species, niche modelling, Maxent, predator control, small game.


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