Freedman, AH, Buermann, W, Lebreton, M, Chirio, L, Smith, TB (2009). Modeling the Effects of Anthropogenic Habitat Change on Savanna Snake Invasions into African Rainforest. CONSERVATION BIOLOGY, 23(1), 81-92.
We used a species-distribution modeling approach, ground-based climate data sets, and newly available remote-sensing data on vegetation from the MODIS and Quick Scatterometer sensors to investigate the combined effects of human-caused habitat alterations and climate on potential invasions of rainforest by 3 savanna snake species in Cameroon, Central Africa: the night adder (Causus maculatus), olympic lined snake(Dromophis lineatus), and African house snake (Lamprophis fuliginosus). Models with contemporary climate variables and localities from native savanna habitats showed that the current climate in undisturbed rainforest was unsuitable for any of the snake species due to high precipitation. Limited availability of thermally suitable nest sites and mismatches between important life-history events and prey availability are a likely explanation for the predicted exclusion from undisturbed rainforest. Models with only MODIS-derived vegetation variables and savanna localities predicted invasion in disturbed areas within the rainforest zone, which suggests that human removal of forest cover creates suitable microhabitats that facilitate invasions into rainforest. Models with a combination of contemporary climate, MODIS- and Quick Scatterometer-derived vegetation variables, and forest and savanna localities predicted extensive invasion into rainforest caused by rainforest loss. In contrast, a projection of the present-day species-climate envelope on future climate suggested a reduction in invasion potential within the rainforest zone as a consequence of predicted increases in precipitation. These results emphasize that the combined responses of deforestation and climate change will likely be complex in tropical rainforest systems.