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- Exploring drivers of the research-implementation gap in large carnivore conservation
- Hoffmann, Claire F.
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
The number of scientific publications centered on threats to large carnivore populations has increased exponentially over the last two decades. However, this notable growth in research effort has not resulted in a commensurate positive impact on the population status of those carnivore species. My dissertation explores a range of drivers that may be contributing to this evident disconnect between research effort and conservation impact in large carnivore conservation. Each chapter delves into...
Show moreThe number of scientific publications centered on threats to large carnivore populations has increased exponentially over the last two decades. However, this notable growth in research effort has not resulted in a commensurate positive impact on the population status of those carnivore species. My dissertation explores a range of drivers that may be contributing to this evident disconnect between research effort and conservation impact in large carnivore conservation. Each chapter delves into a different step in the processes of research and conservation practice in which this research-implementation gap may be perpetuated. In Chapter 1, I conducted a review to assess whether taxonomic bias was evident among the published literature on carnivore depredation of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa. I used lexical analysis to compare the central large carnivore species in each study to the species identified as the primary livestock depredator. I found that, while the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) tended to be the primary livestock depredator, the African lion (Panthera leo) was the most common focal species. I argued that this pattern is likely due to the African lion’s charisma and its role as a global rallying point for conservation funding. In Chapter 2, I developed a framework to represent linkages among the different components of the complex systems in which human-wildlife coexistence must occur. With the assistance of a collaborative team, I used this framework to explore emergent themes from semi-structured interviews on human-wildlife coexistence in Northern Tanzania. We found that the nature of human-elephant interactions amplified the negative impacts of human-carnivore interactions, and decreased human willingness and capacity to participate in interventions designed to promote human-wildlife coexistence. In Chapter 3, I quantified carnivore-livestock encounter rates, attack rates, and depredation risk at bomas in Laikipia, Kenya. I found that carnivores encountered potential livestock prey far more often than they attacked, and that these encounter rates exhibited notable temporal patterning at multiple resolutions. Furthermore, spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) had substantially higher encounter and attack rates than any other carnivore species, and thus posed the greatest depredation risk for livestock. I concluded that better understanding of species-specific encounter rates such as those I explored will aid in the prediction of depredation risk, and therefore the mitigation of carnivore depredation of livestock. In Chapter 4, I applied three geostatistical measures to assess spatial clustering in data describing carnivore depredation of livestock in the Maasai steppe region of Tanzania. My analysis revealed that the spatial patterns of carnivore depredation of livestock tended not to significantly differ from random. I concluded that other drivers of spatial randomness may be obscuring patterns of depredation. Thus, analysis of research to inform depredation interventions must carefully apply diagnostic approaches to ensure accurate interpretation of spatial patterning. I conclude my dissertation with a summary of key findings and recommendations to improve research efforts to better bridge the research-implementation gap moving forward. This dissertation incorporates a diversity of research techniques, which provide a range of valuable contributions to current understanding of the research-implementation gap and large carnivore conservation.