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The Changes in Habitat Suitability for Water Deer and Leopard Cat after Development Projects: a Case of Gyeonggi-do

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농업생명과학대학 생태조경·지역시스템공학부
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서울대학교 대학원
Environmental Impact AssessmentSpecies Distribution modelhabitat suitability changedistance to roadpatch area
학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 생태조경·지역시스템공학부 생태조경학전공, 2016. 2. 이동근.
Human activity is one of the several factors that have a negative impact on the forest ecosystem. Development activities in the forest ecosystem affect its function as a habitat, leading to a reduction of biodiversity. For the promotion and maintenance of biological diversity, it is necessary to preserve the habitat of species. In South Korea, however, the effects of development activities on the habitat have not been adequately evaluated, and there is a need to establish a process that can predict the impact of development projects on biodiversity and favor sustainable development. A species distribution model predicts the potential distribution of the species on the basis of existing distribution data and habitat variables. Since development projects may cause environmental changes, a predictive model can effectively forecast habitat changes. The purpose of this study was to identify variables that reflect the effects of development projects on habitat by evaluating the potential location and distribution of species following changes in these habitats.
Mammalian species are keystone species in the forest ecosystem. The target species selected for this study were water deer and leopard cat because extensive research on the domestic habitats of these species has already been carried out. Species distribution data were obtained from the National Ecosystem Survey. The constructed environment variables included altitude,
slope, terrain relief, northness, curvature, land cover, forest type, forest age class, road density, distance variables, patch area, area to perimeter ratio and nearest neighbor distance. Development sites in 2008-2012 were selected. The MaxEnt model was used because it showed high sensitivity and accuracy in the domestic study even with a small sample size. The variables were selected on the basis of both their correlation and their independence. Changes in the suitability of potential habitats before and after development were estimated by calculations derived from the maps that were constructed using the model.
The results showed that the habitat suitability changes are greater for the leopard cat than for the water deer because the former is affected by habitat fragmentation. It was also estimated that a relatively small habitat patch area is affected less by new development projects than is a larger one. It was observed that among the environmental variables analyzed in this study, the distance from the road had a strong effect in changing habitat suitability.
Therefore, by considering the attributes of the habitat in the process of determining the location of development projects, one can predict the impact of development projects on those habitats. This research, however, focused exclusively on specific mammalian species, so further research is necessary. Nevertheless, the study remains significant in that it confirmed the potential of the model to forecast the environmental impact of development projects on habitats before the development has begun.
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