Multi‐scale habitat modelling identifies spatial conservation priorities for mainland clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa)

As important as conserving key species and habitats is an understanding of what efforts would be most effective for conservation and optimal locations. In 2019, David W. Macdonald and Helen M. Bothwell from the University of Oxford, with the aid of 18 other researchers from across the globe, created a habitat model for the mainland clouded leopard native to Southeast Asia. The model is meant to give conservationists a better understanding of where and how they might best conserve this key species. The clouded leopard’s range extends from the Nepali Himalayas in the west to southern China in the north and the east, and extends into the Southern Peninsula of Malaysia, with many related leopard species existing in other regions of Southeast Asia. Researchers took a massive dataset built through a collection of 2,948 camera traps they set up across the clouded leopard’s entire range from 2008 to 2016. From the camera traps, they were able to create a model estimating the location and size of clouded leopard populations, though not without some extrapolation. To make their analysis even more effective for conservation, they also started to make predictive population models on where the clouded leopard is most threatened, either by poaching (which varies widely across different legal jurisdictions), aggressive deforestation, or other factors. The researchers are cognizant of the fact that many species need enhanced protection, not just popular or “touristy” animals. However, they see their work in promoting a key “ambassadorial species” that can motivate action and inspire support, especially as the rate of deforestation has accelerated in recent years across the clouded leopard’s native range.

Macdonald, David W., Helen M. Bothwell, Żaneta Kaszta, Eric Ash, Gilmoore Bolongon, Dawn Burnham, Özgün Emre Can et al. “Multi‐scale habitat modelling identifies spatial conservation priorities for mainland clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa).” Diversity and Distributions 25, no. 10 (2019): 1639-1654.



Biodiversity, Data, Ecological Modelling, Ecological Monitoring, Monitoring, Visual Technologies