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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Modelling habitat and spatial distribution of the edible insect Henicus whellani Chop (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae) in south-eastern districts of Zimbabwe

Chemura, A.; Musundire, R.; Chiwona-Karltun, L.


Edible insects present unique opportunities for food and nutrition security in many African communities. However, the characteristics of habitats and spatial distribution of edible insects is not known and yet it is important for understanding their ecology, planning harvesting and conservation activities in the wild. The edible ground cricket (Henicus whellani) Chopard (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae) is an edible insect consumed in south eastern Zimbabwe with protein content > 50% on dry matter basis but harvesting is largely random and opportunistic. The aim of this study was to apply the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) presence-only species distribution modelling approach to understand the factors influencing distribution of H. whellani and map the potential areas for harvesting and conservation of the species. Geographical locations of sites where H. whellani is currently present were obtained from field reports from communities. Seven geographical factors which are mean annual temperature, temperature seasonality, mean annual precipitation, seasonality of precipitation, soil type, elevation, vegetation density and land cover were used to run the model. The model showed a high prediction accuracy for H. whellani (AUC=0.86) indicating that the model can be used with confidence to predict distribution and potential habitats in S. E Zimbabwe. Results showed that soil type (46.7%) and vegetation density (17.5%) are the most important factors determining the distribution of H. whellani. The hotspots for H. whellani were identified and closely followed specific soil and vegetation gradients in the area. The model considered temperature (3.9%) and elevation (0.6%) as the least important factors in H. whellani distribution. The produced distributed maps can be used for planning efficient harvesting and conservation of this nutritious edible insect in Zimbabwe.

Published in

Journal of insects as food and feed
2018, Volume: 4, number: 4, pages: 229-238

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