Opportunities for Biodiversity Conservation Outside of Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique: A Multispecies Approach

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Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten wildlife and ecosystems across the globe, especially in multi-use landscapes outside of protected areas, which are ubiquitous. Amid rapid land-use changes in Africa especially, managers need tools to prioritize conservation efforts outside of protected areas. We studied how human activities affect the distribution and composition of a medium-to-large sized mammalian community with various habitat requirements in a sustainable-use forestry concession in central Mozambique. We deployed 75 motion-detecting cameras from June to October 2017, and photographed 30 mammalian species. We used hierarchical, multi-species occupancy models to estimate species richness at each station and compared the relative effects of natural and anthropogenic features on the presence of individual species and groups of species when categorized into taxonomic/functional groups and body size groups. Predicted richness at each station varied from 3 to 17 species, and both human and natural parameters varied in their importance for the occupancy likelihood for different animals. When species were grouped by taxonomies and diets, settlement proximity negatively affected the occupancies of carnivores, insectivores, and other foragers. Similarly, settlement proximity negatively affected the occupancies of species in all body size groups. However, active roads and human activity rates did not have a statistically significant relationship with any species' occupancies or detection rates, respectively. Overall, mammalian richness was highest far from human settlements in the concession and close to rivers. Building on scant knowledge of wildlife communities across mosaics of different land uses, our results shed light on understudied species assemblages to guide conservation efforts in Mozambique.