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Bearded pig (Sus barbatus) utilisation of a fragmented forest-oil palm landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Kieran, Love, Kurz, David, Vaughan, Ian, Ke, Alison, Evans, Luke and Goossens, Benoit 2017. Bearded pig (Sus barbatus) utilisation of a fragmented forest-oil palm landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Wildlife Research

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Abstract

Context: Oil palm plantations have become a dominant landscape in Southeast Asia, yet we still understand relatively little about the ways wildlife are adapting to fragmented mosaics of forest and oil palm. The bearded pig is of great ecological, social, and conservation importance in Borneo and is declining rapidly due to habitat loss and overhunting. Aims: We sought to assess how the bearded pig is adapting to oil palm expansion by investigating habitat utilisation, activity patterns, body condition, and minimum group size in a mosaic composed of forest fragments and surrounding oil palm. Methods: We conducted our study in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, in and around the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, an area consisting of secondary forest fragments (ranging 1200-7400 ha) situated within an extensive oil palm matrix. We modelled bearded pig habitat use in forest fragments and oil palm plantations using survey data from line transects. Camera traps placed throughout the forest fragments were used to assess pig activity patterns, body condition, and minimum group size. Key results: All forest transects and 80% of plantation transects showed pig presence, but mean pig signs per transect were much more prevalent in forest (70.00 ± 13.00 SE) than in plantations (0.91 ± 0.42 SE). Pig tracks had a positive relationship with leaf cover and a negative relationship with grass cover; pig rooting sites had a positive relationship with wet and moderate soils as compared to drier soils. Pigs displayed very good body condition in forests across the study area, aggregated in small groups (mean = 2.7 ± 0.1 SE individuals), and showed diurnal activity patterns that were accentuated for groups with piglets and juveniles. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that bearded pigs in our study area regularly utilise oil palm as habitat, given their signs in most oil palm sites surveyed. However, secondary forest fragments adjacent to oil palm remain the most important habitat for the bearded pig, as well as many other species, and therefore must be conserved. Implications: Consistent bearded pig presence in oil palm is a potential indication of successful adaptation to agricultural expansion in the study area. However, the net effect of oil palm expansion in the region on bearded pig populations remains unknown.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Acceptance
Status: In Press
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
ISSN: 1035-3712
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2018
Date of Acceptance: 19 August 2017
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2018 01:01
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/108422

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