The Dynamics and Sustainability of Hunting: Landscape-scale Management Implications for Amazonia

Hunting is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable throughout the tropics, with many species becoming locally extinct where they are hunted. One of the many challenges to making hunting sustainable is the need to design cost-effective and widely usable protocols for gauging the present and future sustainability of hunting. A high-quality method will be capable of exploring the effects of competing management and policy options into the future. What is needed to assess sustainability are mechanistic models of hunting that can be parameterized with easily obtainable field data and that can be used to compare management options over long timeframes. Incorporating meaningful assessments of the levels of hunting across the landscape requires a spatially explicit approach that can incorporate the growth and spread of human populations. We have developed a method to find the steady-state density of a hunted game species as a function of radial distance from a human settlement, which allows us to identify the area around a settlement within which hunting is not sustainable, which we call the “extinction envelope.” Additionally, because wild meat is by definition an important protein source for subsistence hunters, we also find an analytical solution for the catch per unit effort at the steady-state density. Finally, we develop a computational method that can account for both source-sink dynamics and multiple settlements with overlapping hunting zones, and we test our results with empirical data.

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