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Modelling variation in bushmeat harvesting among seven African ecosystems using the Madingley Model: yield, survival and ecosystem impacts

Barychka, T; Georgina, M; Drew, P; (2019) Modelling variation in bushmeat harvesting among seven African ecosystems using the Madingley Model: yield, survival and ecosystem impacts. BioRxiv: Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

In principle, both the maximum sustainable yields of bushmeat, and the ecosystem impacts of extracting those yields, are likely to vary among ecosystems due to differences in the structure and function of ecosystems, but the data necessary to estimate this variation is lacking. Here, we compare seven different ecosystems on a North-South latitudinal gradient in Central Africa in terms of their trophic structure and capacity to support yields from bushmeat harvesting, using the Madingley General Ecosystem Model. The only factor that varies across simulations of these ecosystems is the climate which drives differences in vegetation structure and function, leading in turn to differences in the structure of the ecological community that emerge from the model. In a series of experiments (n=30), we simulate constant proportional harvesting of small and medium-sized warm-bloodied heterotrophs (1-23kg) over 30 years, recording expected bushmeat yields, and impacts on ecosystem structure, including trophic structure. Predictions for animal densities and trophic structures in the pristine (no harvesting) case varied among the ecosystems, with implications for bushmeat harvesting. For example, wooded savannah ecosystems stood out as having the greatest pristine densities in the target groups (11000-12000 animals per kilometre squared), greatest yields (100% higher than the tropical forest and 1000% higher than the desert ecosystem), and were the most resilient to harvesting. By contrast, small and medium-sized endothermic heterotrophs contributed only a small proportion of heterotrophs in the desert ecosystem, and thus the potential for bushmeat harvesting here was low. In all ecosystems, harvesting at the rate that maximised yield (55-65% population per year, except for the southern desert ecosystem) had strong impacts, causing drastic reductions in target functional groups, coupled with increases in smaller- and larger-bodied animals. Forest and desert ecosystems were particularly sensitive. Overall, the results suggest that, even for similar functional groups, bushmeat harvesting policies will need to vary substantially among ecosystems – and show that general ecosystem models could be a useful tool in helping to guide these policies.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Modelling variation in bushmeat harvesting among seven African ecosystems using the Madingley Model: yield, survival and ecosystem impacts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/695924
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/695924
Language: English
Additional information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081887
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