Zoological Studies

Vol. 59, 2020

(update: 2020.03.16)
 

Blue Sheep Resource Selection in Alpine Grasslands of a Western Himalayan Landscape – A Point Process Approach

Ankita Bhattacharya1, Nilanjan Chatterjee1, Gopal Singh Rawat1, and Bilal Habib1,*

doi:-

1Scientist-E, Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun-248001, Uttarakhand, India. *Correspondence: Tel: +01352646283. E-mail: bh@wii.gov.in
E-mail: ankita@wii.gov.in (Bhattacharya), nilanjan@wii.gov.in (Chatterjee); rawatg@wii.gov.in (Rawat)

Received 4 September2019 / Accepted 9 March 2020
Communicated by Teng-Chiu Lin

In-depth knowledge of distribution and their factors are important for species conservation and management. Many forms of such data have led to development of new analytical techniques for better interpretation. For mountainous terrains with certain limitations, species data is obtained in presence-only form. Point process model is one of the recent approaches for modelling such data, taking care of pseudo-absences and spatial independence. For conservation of regions with limited resources and species with similar ecological requirements, it is important to properly assess competition extent between wild and domestic species. We attempted to use point process framework to estimate resource selection function of blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) in pastoralism influenced areas of a western Himalayan landscape. Our study is a first attempt to use this framework to estimate resource selection on a dataset not collected using radio-telemetry. Spatial locations of presence points of blue sheep and livestock and a background sample of random points along with six topographic covariates were used for modelling resource selection probability via intensity function. Blue sheep showed its predicted presence in areas with open vegetation coinciding with alpine meadows, influenced by southern aspect keeping a threshold distance of 600m-1000m from cliffs (escape terrain). Livestock, also showed presence probability in open vegetation but at lower altitudes mainly on valley floors. Our results suggest that though blue sheep continued to use the same habitat type after livestock arrival, they selected different resources based on topographic factors. Livestock were in areas convenient for pastoralists for establishing their campsites and feasibility of grazing along with presence of nutritious grasses. Thus, we assume that probable shift of habitat for blue sheep from optimal areas occurs due to livestock presence, which might disturb their nutritional balance. Our study provides helpful insights for management of rangelands, which when tied with dietary patterns will give wholesome idea for proper conservation measures in future.

Key words: Uttarakhand, Johar valley, Pastoralism, Pseudois nayaur, Mountain ungulates.

Citation: Bhattacharya A, Chatterjee N, Rawat GS, Habib B. 2020. Blue sheep resource selection in alpine grasslands of a western Himalayan landscape – a point process approach. Zool Stud 59:0n. doi:-.