Agent-based simulations of jaguar movements through conservation corridors
Wildlife corridors mitigate against habitat fragmentation by connecting otherwise isolated regions, bringing well established benefits to conservation both in principle and practice. Populations of large mammals in particular may depend on habitat connectivity, yet conservation managers struggle to optimise corridor designs with the rudimentary information generally available on movement behaviours. We present an agent-based model of jaguars (Panthera onca), scaled for fragmented habitat in Belize where proposals already exist for creating a jaguar corridor. We use a least cost approach to simulate movement paths through alternative possible landscapes. Six different types of corridor and three control conditions differ substantially in their effectiveness at mixing agents across the environment despite relatively little difference in individual welfare. Our best estimates of jaguar movement behaviours suggest that a set of five narrow corridors may out-perform one wide corridor of the same overall area. We discuss the utility of ALife modelling for conservation management.
Life sciences simulation: Ecology
Algorithms and computational methods: Agents
Programming languages and libraries: Python