Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Perry J. Brown

Commitee Members

David J. Aronofsky, Michael S. Mitchell, Paul R. Krausman


Argentina, Chaco forest, hunting, large mammals, risk, anthropogenic threats, Yungas forest


University of Montana


The subtropical Yungas and Chaco forests of northwestern Argentina are two of the most biodiverse and threatened biomes in South America. It is unclear how development pressure and increased human presence may be affecting wildlife in this increasingly fragmented and degraded landscape. We initiated a broad-scale analysis of the spatial distribution and magnitude of anthropogenic factors that may influence large mammal mortality due to potential human hunting pressure in a landscape linkage connecting these threatened forests. We conducted a literature review of Neotropical study sites that reported hunting of large mammals by indigenous people or colonists, and used this information to inform development of a risk distribution model. We identified linear distance values that represented the spatial patterns of hunter travel distance (i.e., willingness to travel) when in search of large bodied (>10 kg) prey species. To parameterize our model, we used information on percent forest cover, and values that reflect hunter travel distances as a function of distance from disturbance on the landscape, referencing roads and human settlements. The resultant risk map highlights gradients of risk of human-caused mortality due to hunting of large mammals potentially inhabiting or moving through the study region. We report patterns across the study landscape that show areas of relatively low mortality risk and putative linkages, while in other locations we report clear aggregations of high risk values suggesting areas of conservation concern. Where existing protected areas are close to or overlapping high risk areas, land managers should implement focused anti-poaching campaigns and prevent land clearing activities that could elevate human-caused risk of mortality. Likewise, locations at low risk of human-caused hunting mortality (especially those areas located amid the protected area network) may be robust for conservation, and thus should be considered a management priority. Minimizing new human disturbance, particularly in locations we report as low to moderate risk, should be actively pursued before these locations become targets of future land-use change. If managers seek to sustain the region‘s wildlife populations for future generations, then focused hunting control action and public awareness campaigns combined with forest conservation programs should be a high priority on the management agenda. Special funds are needed to improve managers‘ ability to control poaching throughout this region and help support new wildlife population studies to further focus conservation planning.



© Copyright 2011 Loretta Kathleen Baker