ABSTRACT: Natural disasters such as earthquakes have profound effects on the earth’s biodiversity. However, studies on immediate earthquake
impacts are rarely conducted at fine scales due to logistical constraints. We conducted the first post-earthquake field survey
in Wolong Nature Reserve, Wenchuan, China, less than 1year after it was hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in 2008. Since
Wolong harbors approximately 10% of the endangered wild giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) population, the impact of the earthquake on the giant panda and its habitat is of particular concern. We established 15
transects in three focus areas within the Reserve where we classified occurrences of earthquake damage according to vegetation
and geophysical characteristics. In the 11.2km2 area sampled, we recorded 156 occurrences of earthquake damage consisting of landslides and mudflows, which comprised a total
area of 0.88km2. Of all earthquake damage occurrences sampled, only 36% of occurences (73% of surface area) corresponded to damaged areas
previously detected through broad-scale remote sensing. The remaining damaged areas mainly consisted of occurrences too small
to be detected without field observation. Although there were significant losses to tree and shrub species diversity and richness
in earthquake-damaged areas, remnant vegetation was found in the majority (80%) of damaged areas, suggesting the potential
for forest recovery. Most earthquake-damaged areas were too steep to be classified as suitable giant panda habitat (79%).
In addition, a sizable number of signs of giant panda (67) and other wildlife (148) were observed near the earthquake-damaged
areas, and there appeared to be avoidance of earthquake damage only at short-range distances. This study has implications
for understanding the impact of natural disasters on biodiversity and highlights the importance of fine scale on-the-ground
assessments of disaster impacts on wildlife and their habitats.
KeywordsBiodiversity–Earthquake–Giant panda–Natural disasters–Wildlife habitat
Ecological Research 04/2012; 26(3):523-531. · 1.57 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: Wildlife species are threatened by massive habitat destruction worldwide. Habitat fragmentation and isolation spatially constrain
animals and in turn cause non-sustainable rates of animal foraging on plant populations. However, little empirical research
has been done in large controlled settings to investigate foraging impacts. We conducted an experiment to characterize the
impact of panda foraging on the sustainability of its food resource, bamboo, in an enclosed area of natural habitat (approximately
19ha). We monitored bamboo density, age, and percent cover throughout the enclosure across a 3-year period. We documented
marked declines in bamboo density and percent cover as a result of panda foraging, particularly in younger bamboo age classes.
We constructed simultaneous autoregressive models to explain bamboo loss to panda foraging and subsequent bamboo recovery
as a function of habitat conditions. Areas with high initial bamboo cover not only were prone to high rates of bamboo percent
cover loss but also experienced high rates of subsequent bamboo recovery, as bamboo cover loss opened up the understory for
new growth. Variograms of ordinary least squares model residuals revealed that the range of spatial autocorrelation in bamboo
loss increased over time as available bamboo forage declined. The results have implications for understanding the impact of
animal foraging on vegetation and also highlight the importance of preventing further habitat fragmentation and isolation.
KeywordsHabitat fragmentation and isolation–Giant panda–Bamboo–Foraging–Wildlife–Vegetation
Plant Ecology 04/2012; 212(1):43-54. · 1.83 Impact Factor
Biological Conservation 12/2011; · 4.11 Impact Factor