Mangrove and Peat Swamp Forests: Refuge Habitats for Primates and FelidsNowak K.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., USA
Swamp forests may be important refuges for primates and felids where these taxa are threatened with habitat loss. Mangrove and peat swamp forests, impenetrable, wet habitats, inaccessible and uninhabitable for humans, may, in some regions, be the most significant remaining habitats for threatened species. They are nevertheless neglected in field studies compared to relatively species-rich, terrestrial tropical forests probably, in part, because of the difficulties associated with surveying them. As a result, maps of mammal distributions may overlook swamp forests although camera-trapping is gradually rectifying this gap. I have compiled and mapped records of over 60 primate and 20 felid taxa reported to use mangrove and peat swamp forests in Africa and Asia at 47 sites, of which 21 are Afrotropical mangrove, 25 are Indo-Malayan mangrove or peat swamp forest, and 1 is an outlying mangrove site in Japan. Eleven of these are designated Ramsar Sites. I highlight key sites of conservation priority on the basis of primate and felid species richness and composite ‘threat scores’. Petit Loango in Gabon and Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesia emerged as top priority sites in Africa and Asia, respectively. Further research on the role of swamp forests in the ecology and persistence of threatened mammals is needed.
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