• African elephant on the decline since 2006

    From MrPostingRobot@kymhorsell.com@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jul 5 14:48:09 2021
    XPost: alt.global-warming

    - We use the African Elephant Database reports of estimated animals
    since ~1998 to predict the future of elephant over the next 20-100y.
    - Adjusting for "effort" that went into gathering the reported numbers
    we find African elephant apparently peaked around 2006 and have been
    in slow decline since.
    - Using an AI s/w with access to 10s of 1000s of datasets we find the
    sea surface temperature in a region that includes W Greenland and
    the Antarctic Peninsula predicts more than 80% of the year-to-year
    variation in African elephant numbers.
    - Unfortunately the temperature of the region is on the increase
    around 1.4C/cent, indicating elephant numbers are predicted to 1/2
    before that century is up.
    - Because of animal characteristics -- social grouping and intelligence --
    it's expected real numbers over the next 100y are likely to involve a
    crash at some point with small groups of smaller animals perhaps
    surviving in tiny pockets across the continent.

    Despite a huge and continent wide effort to boost the survival of
    African elephant, the species seems to be on a track to decline.

    According to periodic reports from the AED numbers of animals peaked
    in 2006 and have declined since. Numbers are estimated for each region
    of their range across central Africa and the results combined for the
    survey reports. Ground observations of animals, aircraft surveys,
    counts of dung heaps and the opinion of local farmers and other
    experts are all combined to obtain a total number of animals.

    And we can use some data science techniques to massage that and see if
    we can make a reasonably robust prediction about where the numbers are

    The various reports give the total estimates since the 90s as:

    Year Estimated numbers
    1995 285233
    1998 301733
    2002 402067
    2006 471836 <-- max
    2013 404247
    2015 395593

    Like field estimates of other endangered animals there are many
    niggling little problems in gathering this kind of data. E.g. the
    majority of the "number" above comes from aircraft surveys of
    herds. And it's a truism the harder you look the more you find. So we
    have to adjust the estimates by the "amount of effort" that went in to assembling them. Various data are available to estimate "effort" --
    e.g. amount of project funding (adjusted for inflation, of course),
    manpower available, number of miles flown for aircraft surveys
    (e.g. length of transect/transects) -- and we can combine all that
    using high-fallutin methods to come up with:

    Year Adjusted elephant numbers
    1995 361829
    1998 367553
    2002 465764
    2006 521189 <-- max
    2013 412833
    2015 395593

    And from these numbers we can interpolate missing years to obtain an
    estimate for all the years from approx 1990 to 2020. Which we can
    then throw into a little program to discover what out there in the
    world seems to be influencing elephant numbers in Africa.

    And the top10 answers we find after search 10s of 1000s of data
    series are:

    "Suspect" dataset Lag(y) LogTrans R2
    world-70 2 y 0.83462826
    sduah_globe6SoPol 3 y 0.81257976
    arc-40 5 y 0.78078380
    sdcambodia 2 0.77924226
    ant70 4 y 0.73949191
    ant80 4 y 0.73390412
    sdireland 3 y 0.72508670
    presband20 3 y 0.72354974
    world150 0 0.70189185
    maxuah_lsNH 4 0.69806836

    So the "best" simple predictor of African elephant numbers we can find
    is the SST of oceans along the longitude segment 70W-60W that goes
    through the waters off W Greenland and the Antarctic peninsula -- key
    weather determiners for most of the globe.

    The annual avg SST of this region lagged by 2 years matches 83% of the
    elephant count data so we expect it will be able to predict at least
    numbers a decade or 2 into the future given it is based on reports for
    the last 20+ years.

    But the results are not happy. The SST along the segment are on the

    Model for world-70 1990-2020:
    (Serial corr detected; estimated rho = 0.449530)
    y = 0.0141806*x + -12.6978
    beta in 0.0141806 +- 0.00665622 90% CI
    alpha in -12.6978 +- 7.35401
    P(beta>0.000000) = 0.999430
    r2 = 0.31930471

    I.e. SST in the region are presently increasing around 1.4 degC/cent --
    similar to the rise of avg global temps.

    And the relationship with African elephant numbers over the past 20y
    is inversely related to temperature -- the higher the SST the lower
    the elephant count. The rise in elephant numbers between 1998 and 2006
    is matched by a decline in SST in the region during those years --
    presumably due to factors like melting glacier ice entering the seas
    off W Greenland and the Antarctic peninsula. After ~2006 overall ocean
    warming took over and SST started to climb again, in parallel with the
    reported decline in elephant numbers.

    The best model linking "world-70" and AED reported numbers is:

    (Log transform enabled).
    (Lagging 2y).
    y = 7.93112e+09*exp(-0.619429*x)
    Halving Rate 1.12C
    beta in -0.619429 +- 0.124802 90% CI
    alpha in 22.7941 +- 1.9685 = [20.8256, 24.7626]
    P(beta<0.000000) = 1.000000
    calculated Spearman corr = -0.850490
    Critical Spearman = 0.582500 2-sided at 1%; reject H0:no_link
    r2 = 0.83462826

    Binned data:
    Year Av SST(degC) #Elephants Model-est #Elephants
    1998 15.9376 416658 409158
    1999 15.7879 441211 448913
    2000 15.7094 465764 471281
    2001 15.7086 479620 471515
    2002 15.7115 493476 470669*(1sd diff)
    2003 15.6984 507333 474503*
    2004 15.5224 521189 529159 <-- max animals
    & min SST
    2005 15.6614 505710 485504*
    2006 15.6126 490230 500404
    2007 15.6867 474751 477955
    2008 15.682 459271 479348*
    2009 15.7718 443792 453413
    2010 15.974 428312 400036*
    2011 15.8595 412833 429439*
    2012 15.9257 404213 412185
    2013 15.9789 395593 398824
    2014 15.9022 395593 418229*

    The model shows the data fit the (adjusted) report numbers well.
    There are no 2s outliers and the 1s outliers fall on both sides of the
    model curve.

    The stats finds the model is significant at 90% (T-test) and 99% (rank
    test) meaning there is almost 999 chances in 1000 the SST data
    "explains" or predicts what is happening to African elephant numbers.

    The model estimates as SST in the region that incl W Greenland and the
    Ant Pen increases by 1.2C elephant numbers in African are expected to
    halve. From the SST model we see temps will rise around 1.4C over the
    next 100y or 1.2C over the next 90y.

    Unfortunately because elephant are social animals, when numbers reach
    some critical point they will no longer be able to sustain their
    numbers and the population will crash. The future looks bleak for the
    big herds, but desert elephant show isolated small groups of 1/2-size
    animals may be able to eek out a living for 100s of years yet,

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