Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Fuzzy logic modelling of snow leopard populations in response to threats from climate change (#106)

Owen Nevin 1 , Ian Ian Convery 2 , Azim Baibagysov 3 , Volker Deecke 2 , Clair Holt 2 , Sabir Nurtazin 3 , Darrell Smith 2
  1. CQUniversity Australia, Gladstone, QLD, Australia
  2. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, N/A, United Kingdom
  3. Kazakh National University, Almaty, N/A, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s snow leopard population represents a small but important component of the species range. The most recent population estimate, by Jackson et al. (2008), suggests that there are around 180-200 individuals. Prior to this study there were no reliable estimates of snow leopard numbers in Almaty State Nature Reserve. In total 40 camera traps were deployed for a total of 5,152 traps nights and yielded 50 independent capture events of snow leopards (with between 1 and 10 images per event), 275 capture events of primary prey and 68 capture events of secondary prey. The study capture rate of 0.97 independent capture events per 100 trap nights is at the higher end of the range experienced by other studies and mark-recapture modelling estimated 11-18 individuals in the study area which suggests density between 4.4 and 7.2 individuals per 100 km2. Analysis of movement patterns suggests that individuals frequently crossed valley bottoms and used densely forested habitat in winter, which may indicated prey switching from ibex to forest ungulates. We developed a fuzzy logic model which aggregates a wide range of socio-economic and ecological data and provides a tool that can be used to inform the sustainable natural resource and landscape management decision-making process. Our model predicts the consistent negative impact of climate change (warming) at elevations below the tree line; this is particularly significant as the potential positive impacts for snow leopards at high elevation are slower to eventuate thereby increasing the habitat squeeze associated with climate change in mountain habitats.