Image courtesy Ecography.

NOSSIncreasing synergistic effects of habitat destruction and hunting on mammals over three decades in the Gran Chaco

Alfredo Romero-Muñoz, Ana Benítez-López, Damaris Zurell, Matthias Baumann, Micaela Camino, Julieta Decarre, Hugo Castillo del, Anthony J. Giordano, Bibiana Gómez-Valencia, Christian Levers Andrew J. Noss, Verónica Quiroga, J. Jeffrey Thompson, Ricardo Torres, Marianela Velilla, Andrea Weiler, Tobias Kuemmerle

Article first published online: 16 APR 2020 Ecography

DOI: 10.1111/ecog.05053

ABSTRACT: Habitat destruction and overexploitation are the main threats to biodiversity and where they co-occur, their combined impact is often larger than their individual one. Yet, detailed knowledge of the spatial footprints of these threats is lacking, including where they overlap and how they change over time. These knowledge gaps are real barriers for effective conservation planning. Here, we develop a novel approach to reconstruct the individual and combined footprints of both threats over time. We combine satellite-based land-cover change maps, habitat suitability models and hunting pressure models to demonstrate our approach for the community of larger mammals (48 species > 1?kg) across the 1.1?million?km2 Gran Chaco region, a global deforestation hotspot covering parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. This provides three key insights. First, we find that the footprints of habitat destruction and hunting pressure expanded considerably between 1985 and 2015, across ~40% of the entire Chaco – twice the area affected by deforestation. Second, both threats increasingly acted together within the ranges of larger mammals in the Chaco (17% increase on average, ± 20% SD, cumulative increase of co-occurring threats across 465 000?km2), suggesting large synergistic effects. Conversely, core areas of high-quality habitats declined on average by 38%. Third, we identified remaining priority areas for conservation in the northern and central Chaco, many of which are outside the protected area network. We also identify hotspots of high threat impacts in central Paraguay and northern Argentina, providing a spatial template for threat-specific conservation action. Overall, our findings suggest increasing synergistic effects between habitat destruction and hunting pressure in the Chaco, a situation likely common in many tropical deforestation frontiers. Our work highlights how threats can be traced in space and time to understand their individual and combined impact, even in situations where data are sparse.

Read the full publication at Ecography






Image courtesy Science.

NOSS – Forest conservation: Remember Gran Chaco

Tobias Kuemmerle, Mariana Altrichter, Germán Baldi, Marcel Cabido, Micaela Camino, Erika Cuellar, Rosa Leny Cuellar, Julieta Decarre, Sandra Díaz, Ignacio Gasparri, Gregorio Gavier-Pizarro, Rubén Ginzburg, Anthony J. Giordano, H. Ricardo Grau, Esteban Jobbágy, Gerardo Leynaud, Leandro Macchi, Matias Mastrangelo, Silvia D. Matteucci, Andrew Noss, José Paruelo, Maria Piquer-Rodríguez, Alfredo Romero-Muñoz, Asunción Semper-Pascual, Jeffrey Thompson, Sebastián Torrella, Ricardo Torres, José N. Volante, Alberto Yanosky, Marcelo Zak

Article first published online: 3 FEB 2017 Science

DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3020

INTRODUCTION: TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL dry forests around the globe are experiencing rapid clearing and concomitant biodiversity loss. In their Research Article “Plant diversity patterns in neotropical dry forests and their conservation implications” (23 September 2016, p. 1383), DRYFLOR et al.highlight the often underappreciated, yet exceptional floristic richness and uniqueness of these forests, and they provide compelling arguments for ramping up efforts to protect them.

Read the full publication at Science


Image courtesy Conservation Biology newsletter, Africa Conservation Telegraph
Image courtesy Conservation Biology newsletter, Africa Conservation Telegraph

NOSS – The hunt for sustainability in African rainforests: bushmeat and hunter-gatherers

Andrew J. Noss, Daniel J. Ingram

Article first published online: NOV 2016 Conservation Biology newsletter, Africa Conservation Telegraph


Unsustainable hunting threatens both biodiversity and local livelihoods. Three recent publications summarize collaborations of researchers representing an array of institutions working on hunting and wildlife conservation issues in African rainforests including CENAREST (Gabon), University of Buea (Cameroon), Imo State University (Nigeria), University of Pretoria (South Africa), CIFOR, TRAFFIC, UNEP-WCMC, University of Sussex, AWF, WCS, WWF, ZSL, FFI, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, other African NGOs, as well as other European / United States / Japanese universities.

The OFFTAKE database was created in 2013 with the aim of synthesizing studies that quantify the harvest, consumption or transaction of wild species (; Taylor et al. 2015). The database currently holds data for over 550 sites globally, spanning over four decades of research, providing a resource for analyses at national and regional levels. In order to track changes in offtake, consumption or #### over time, a more systematically selected and regularly monitored set of sites would be desirable, spanning a range of current depletion levels and contextual socio-economic circumstances in both regions. Wild meat researchers and policymakers need to develop indicators that are robust and practical to collect for track wild meat use and measure sustainability in order to inform national and regional policy on wild meat hunting (e.g. Ingram et al. 2015). The OFFTAKE database relies on the generous contributions of hundreds of researchers that have contributed their data. If you have appropriate data that you would be willing to share with us, please get in touch:

Two other compilation efforts focus on hunter-gatherers in Congo basin forests. Although numerous alternative terms to “Pygmy” have been used to refer the rainforest hunter-gatherers of the Congo Basin, none have been agreed upon by academics or the people themselves to replace it. Some academics and Central African government officers feel the term Pygmy is derogatory or does not adequately represent the people, but the term Pygmy sensu lato, to refer to all hunter-gatherer groups in Central Africa, is widely used by a broad group of people in Europe, Japan, the United States and Africa. Moreover, international and local NGOs use the term in their titles or literature. Pygmy groups consider themselves, and are judged by their farming neighbors, as the aboriginal people of the Central African forests. They identify closely with the forest, and depend to varying degrees on hunting and gathering wild products from the rainforest ecosystem. Recent legislation in some countries has recognized the rights of “autochthones” (indigenous or first peoples).  However, despite such provisions under law, in all countries where Pygmies are found, they are increasingly marginalized, and threatened by disease, displacement, forced sedentarization, and deforestation (Olivero et al. 2016).

The first effort compared data on game harvests from 60 Pygmy and non-Pygmy settlements in the Congo Basin forests, finding that the non-Pygmy population may be responsible for 27 times more animals harvested than the Pygmy population. Non-Pygmy hunters take a wider range of species, twice as many animals per square kilometer, a larger proportion of game with low population growth rates, and sell more bushmeat for profit. The intense competition that may arise from the more widespread commercial hunting by non-Pygmies is a far more important constraint and source of conflict than are protected areas (which may restrict use rights) for Pygmies (Fa et al 2016).

The second effort compiled locational data and population sizes for 654 Pygmy camps and settlements across five countries (Olivero et al. 2016). These data were used to develop spatial distribution models based on the favorability function, which distinguish areas with favorable environmental conditions from those less suitable for Pygmy presence. Highly favorable areas were significantly explained by presence of tropical forests, and by lower human pressure variables. For documented Pygmy settlements, the relationship between observed population sizes and predicted favorability values was used to estimate the total Pygmy population of around 920,000 Pygmies (over 60% in DRC) within favorable forest areas in Central Africa. Fragmentation of the existing Pygmy populations, alongside pressure from extractive industries and sometimes conflict with conservation areas, endanger their future. There is an urgent need to inform policies that can mitigate future external threats to these indigenous peoples’ culture and lifestyles.

Read the full publication at Conservation Biology newsletter, Africa Conservation Telegraph

Image courtesy PLoS ONE
Image courtesy PLoS ONE

NOSS – Differences between Pygmy and Non-Pygmy Hunting in Congo Basin Forests

John E. Fa, Jesús Olivero, Miguel Angel Farfán, Jerome Lewis, Hirokazu Yasuoka, Andrew Noss, Shiho Hattori, Masaaki Hirai, Towa O. W. Kamgaing, Giuseppe Carpaneto, Francesco Germi, Ana Luz Márquez, Jesús Duarte, Romain Duda, Sandrine Gallois, Michael Riddell, Robert Nasi

Article first published online: 2 SEPT 2016 PLoS ONE

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161703


We use data on game harvest from 60 Pygmy and non-Pygmy settlements in the Congo Basin forests to examine whether hunting patterns and prey profiles differ between the two hunter groups. For each group, we calculate hunted animal numbers and biomass available per inhabitant, P, per year (harvest rates) and killed per hunter, H, per year (extraction rates). We assess the impact of hunting of both hunter groups from estimates of numbers and biomass of prey species killed per square kilometre, and by examining the proportion of hunted taxa of low, medium and high population growth rates as a measure of their vulnerability to overhunting. We then map harvested biomass (kg-1P-1Yr-1) of bushmeat by Pygmies and non-Pygmies throughout the Congo Basin. Hunting patterns differ between Pygmies and non-Pygmies; Pygmies take larger and different prey and non-Pygmies sell more for profit. We show that non-Pygmies have a potentially more severe impact on prey populations than Pygmies. This is because non-Pygmies hunt a wider range of species, and twice as many animals are taken per square kilometre. Moreover, in non-Pygmy settlements there was a larger proportion of game taken of low population growth rate. Our harvest map shows that the non-Pygmy population may be responsible for 27 times more animals harvested than the Pygmy population. Such differences indicate that the intense competition that may arise from the more widespread commercial hunting by non-Pygmies is a far more important constraint and source of conflict than are protected areas.

Read the full publication at PLoS ONE

NOSS — With new initiatives in the regions to track bushmeat hunting, this database represents an opportunity to synthesise current and future data on bushmeat hunting, consumption and trade in West and Central Africa, identify gaps in current understanding, and systematically target future monitoring efforts. Read More “Synthesising bushmeat research effort in West and Central Africa: A new regional database.”


Dr. Andrew J. Noss

Adjunct Professor

Coordinator, Master of Sustainable Development Practice Program

Curriculum Vitae

Focus Areas

Areas of Specialization

  • Cultural Ecology
  • Protected areas management
  • Indigenous territories and community mapping
  • Landscape and wildlife conservation
  • Community wildlife management
  • Central Africa, Latin America

Educational Background

  • PhD in Geography / Tropical Conservation and Development / African Studies, University of Florida, 1995
  • M.A. in International Economics / Social Change and Development, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, 1989
  • B.A. in International Relations, Carleton College , 1986

Recent Courses:

  • AFS 4935: African Environmental Issues
  • GEA 3600: Geography of Africa

In My Own Words

Dr. Andrew Noss is a cultural ecologist, focusing on human-environment interactions. He grew up in Cameroon and Nigeria. For his dissertation research at UF he studied Ba Aka subsistence and local bushmeat hunting in the Dzanga Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic. Subsequently he spent 15 years with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS, in Bolivia and Ecuador, implementing community wildlife and landscape conservation programs, emphasizing close collaboration among national park authorities, local governments, indigenous and campesino organizations and communities, universities, and conservation and development NGOs. From 2007-2011 he supervised the “Integrated Management of Indigenous Lands” project that included partnerships with 20 indigenous organizations and local and international NGOs in Ecuador and Colombia. Most recently he advised WCS and the national park service INDEFOR in Equatorial Guinea on management plans for protected areas to be implemented with support from US oil companies.

His landscape conservation programs have emphasized participatory research, community mapping, institutional strengthening, and capacity-building for indigenous and local technicians. The programs integrated an interdisciplinary team of geographers, anthropologists, biologists, veterinarians, educators, protected area managers, hunters, local indigenous researchers, community members, and leaders of indigenous organizations. He has published papers on protected area and indigenous territory management, community wildlife management, sustainable wildlife use, endangered species, one world/one health, and camera trap survey methods.

Recent Publications

2016. Olivero, J., J.E. Fa, M.A. Farfán, J. Lewis, P. Foster, B. Hewlett, T. Breuer, G.M. Carpaneto, M. Fernandez, S. Hattori, J. Head, M. Ichikawa, K. Kitanaishi, J. Knights, N. Matsuura, A. Migliano, B. Nese, A. Noss, D. Ongbwa Ekoumou, P. Paulin, R. Real, M. Riddell, J. Stevenson, M. Toda, J.M. Vargas, H. Yasuoka & R. Nasi. Distribution and Numbers of Pygmies in Central African Forests. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0144499. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144499.

2016. Quiroga, V.A., A.J. Noss, A. Paviolo, G.I. Boaglio & M.S. di Bitetti. Puma density, habitat use and conflict in the Argentine Chaco. Journal for Nature Conservation 31:9-15.

2015. Perz, S., J. Araujo, A. Noss & F. Roman. Introducción: Temas Compartidos y Perspectivas Diferentes en la Amazonía Andina Cambiante. Biodiversidad Amazónica 5(5): 1-16.

2015. Taylor , G., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Rowcliff, M., Kümpel, N., Harfoot, M., Fa, J.E., Melisch, R., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Bhagwat, S., Abernethy, K.A., Abugiche, A.S., Albrechtsen, L., Allebone-Webb, S., Anadu, P.A., Basset, T.J., Bennet Hennessy, A., Brown, E., Brugiere, D., Carpaneto, G.M., Colell, M., Cowlishaw, G., Crookes, D., De Merode, E., Dethier, M., Dupain, J., East, T., Edderai, D., Fargeot, C., Fossung, E.E., Gill, D., Greengrass, E., Hayashi, K., Hickey., Hodgkinson, C., Hoffman, M., Jeanmart, P., Juste, J., Linder, J.M., MacDonald, D.W., Mbete, P. Muchaal, P.K., Okorie, P.U., Okouyi, V.J.J., Pailler, S., Poulsen, J.R., Puit, M., Riddell, M., Rist, J., Shulte-Herbruggen, B., Starkey, M., Schleicher, J., Thibault, M., van Vliet, N., Whitham, C., Wilcox, A.S., Wilkie, D.S., Wright, J.H., Coad, L. Synthesising bushmeat research effort in West and Central Africa: an introduction to a new regional database. Biological Conservation 181:199-205.

2012. Noss, A.J., B. Gardner, L. Maffei, E. Cuéllar, R. Montaño, A. Romero-Muñoz, R. Sollman & A.F. O’Connell Jr. Comparison of density estimation methods for mammal populations with camera traps in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco landscape. Animal Conservation 15:527–535

2011. Maffei, L. , J. Polisar, A.J. Noss, R. García & J. Moreira. Perspectives from ten years of jaguar (Panthera onca) camera trapping in
Mesoamerica / Perspectivas de diez años de estudios con trampas cámara de jaguares (Panthera onca) en Mesoamérica. Mesoamericana 15(1):49-59

Book Chapters

2013, Koster, J. and A. Noss. 2013. Hunting dogs and the extraction of wildlife as a resource. Pp. 265-285 in M.E. Gompper (ed.). Free-ranging dogs and wildlife conservation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2012. Stocks, A., A. Noss, M. Bryja & S. Arce. Deforestation and Waodani lands in Ecuador: mapping and demarcation amidst shaky politics. Pp. 187-202 in P. Moutinho (ed.), Deforestation Around the World, ISBN: 978-953-51-0417-9,
InTech, Available from:
In Tech: Rijeka, Croatia.

2011. Maffei, L., A.J. Noss, S. Silver & M.J. Kelly. Abundance/density case study: jaguars in the Americas. Pp. 119-144 in Camera Traps in Animal Ecology: Methods and Analyses. A.F. O’Connell, Jr., J.D. Nichols and U.K. Karanth (eds.). Springer Tokyo, Inc.

2010. Feinsinger, P., S. Álvarez, G. Carreño, E. Rivera, R.L. Cuéllar, A. Noss, F. Daza, M. Figuera, E. Lanz, L. García, M. Cañizares, A. Alegre & A.
Roldán. Local people, scientific inquiry, and the ecology and conservation of place in Latin America. Pp. 403-428 in I. Billick & M.V. Price (eds.), The
ecology of place: contributions of place-based research to ecological understanding. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2010. Noss, A.J., R.L. Cuéllar, A. Arambiza & J. Barrientos. Sostenibilidad de la cacería en el Chaco: 12 años de manejo de fauna silvestre en la Tierra
Comunitaria de Orígen Isoso. Pp. 1-36 en H. Gómez & A. Llobet (eds.). Experiencias de manejo de fauna silvestre en Bolivia. Santa Cruz: FAN.