Using a species distribution model to identify areas of suitable habitat for the endangered Fijian forest podocarp Acmopyle sahniana




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12th Pacific Science Inter-Congress, 8-12 July 2013

University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay Campus, Suva, Fiji

Using a species distribution model to identify areas of suitable habitat for the endangered Fijian forest podocarp Acmopyle sahniana.

Sarah Pene1 , Alifereti Naikatini2, and Marika Tuiwawa3

1University of the South Pacific, sarah.pene@usp.ac.fj

2University of the South Pacific, alifereti.naikatini@usp.ac.fj

3University of the South Pacific, marika.tuiwawa@usp.ac.fj
Acmopyle sahniana (Podocarpaceae) is a critically endangered forest tree known currently from only the island of Viti Levu in Fiji. Its closest relative (and only other species in the genus) is A. pancheri, endemic to New Caledonia 1200km south west of Fiji. All sites of A. sahniana in Fiji have been located at elevations above 600m, generally on or in close proximity to, exposed mountain ridgetops. Known until recently from only two sites on Viti Levu, biodiversity surveys in recent years have discovered four additional populations, some of which are under threat from mining and logging operations. In this study the locations of all extant populations in Fiji were analysed with a suite of environmental variables, including climate, soils, geology and topography, and used to construct a model to predict areas of suitable habitat for this threatened species. The resulting suitability map is an important tool for the planning of priority survey areas and the discovery of new populations, as well as land-use planning for the effective conservation of existing populations. Long-term monitoring of existing populations could provide an early warning of population decline, in which case these areas of suitable habitat could be considered for a possible reintroduction programme.

Key Words: (distribution model, maxent, Acmopyle, Fiji).



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