Publication update 11: All about tapirs

tapir

Reuben’s and Sheema’s latest publications are all about the Asian Tapir (Tapirus indicus). Compared to its New World counterparts, the only tapir species to be found in the Old World is relatively poorly studied. Despite its striking appearance, its distribution in Peninsular Malaysia is still largely based on guesswork rather than in-depth, long-term research. Scientists have also been unable to get an accurate idea of its population size.

These two papers published in Integrative Zoology aren’t part of Rimba’s work though; they’re the product of a research collaboration led by WWF-Malaysia that is the first attempt in the country to identify tapir individuals based on their specific black-and-white markings. Continue reading

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Toolbox update 2: Creating bias grids for MaxEnt modelling

Let’s say you’ve been travelling across Peninsular Malaysia looking for a particular animal or plant over the years and you’ve marked the GPS coordinates of its presence through an indirect sign (e.g., tracks or vocalizations) or an actual sighting. And one day, you decide to make a map of its distribution, but of course, you do not have the time and effort to look in every nook and cranny of the peninsula to make an accurate map. So wouldn’t you like to know potential places where your species might be found? Over the years, scientists have developed a range of species distribution models (SDMs) to help you do just that. SDMs try to establish a relationship between your species records and the environmental or spatial characteristics (e.g., rainfall, temperature, forest cover, land use types, distance to water sources) of your sampling area (Franklin 2009). In other words, SDMs help to predict where you might find other suitable habitats for your species – you don’t always have to depend on luck to go find them! One of the more popular types of SDMs is Maximum Entropy Modelling Continue reading