Climate change vulnerability of Asia’s most iconic megaherbivore: greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)

Pant, Ganesh and Maraseni, Tek and Apan, Armando ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5412-8881 and Allen, Benjamin L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1533-0163 (2020) Climate change vulnerability of Asia’s most iconic megaherbivore: greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). Global Ecology and Conservation, 23:e01180. pp. 1-14.

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Abstract

Climate change is an emerging threat for biodiversity conservation. It has already started impacting species assemblages and ecosystem dynamics. The greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is an iconic and globally threatened megaherbivore. Once widespread across the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, there were fewer than 500 rhinoceros during the early 1960s, confined to isolated patches of suitable habitats in the southern part of Nepal and northern foothills of India, including Brahmaputra floodplains. Following both governments’ successful conservation strategies, the species has been recovering, and its global population at present is over 3500. However, the likely impacts of climate change has not been adequately incorporated into conservation plans for the species and may challenge this success. In this study, we developed a set of 21 vulnerability indicators and assessed the vulnerability of rhinoceros to climate change in Nepal through a review of literature, site observations of prime rhinoceros habitat, key informant interviews, a two-day stakeholders’ consultation workshop, and expert elucidation. Our findings suggest that rhinoceros in Nepal is likely to be ‘moderately vulnerable’ to the impacts of climate change, mainly due to (1) the likelihood of invasive plant species and severe floods in its prime habitat ‘Chitwan National Park’, and (2) fragmented habitat, small population size, droughts and forest fires in Bardia and Shuklaphanta National Parks. We further identified and recommended adaptation measures intended to enhance the resilience of rhinoceros to these likely threats.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2020 02:06
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2020 04:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate change vulnerability assessment, trait-based approach, vulnerability score, vulnerability index, adaptive capacity, climate refugia
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01180
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39810

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