I am interested in ecological research and conservation issue with multi-scales in endangered species, especially felid species. In the past, I have worked on the topics including population, habitat, behavior of large mammals, such as elephants, tigers, leopards.
Skills and Expertise
BiodiversityConservation BiologyConservationEcologySpecies DiversityWildlife ConservationWildlife EcologyBiodiversity MonitoringBehavioral EcologyAnimal EcologyConservation EcologyWildlife BiologyEndangered SpeciesMammalsLandscape EcologyWildlife ManagementBiodiversity AssessmentPopulation EcologyDistributionBiological ConservationField EcologyPopulation DynamicsHabitat SelectionConservation - RestorationField StudiesPopulation BiologyCamera Trapping
Research Item (48)
Political borders and natural boundaries of wildlife populations seldom coincide, often to the detriment of conservation objectives. Transnational monitoring of endangered carnivores is rare, but is necessary for accurate population monitoring and coordinated conservation policies. We investigate the benefits of collaboratively monitoring the abundance and survival of the critically endangered Amur leopard, which occurs as a single transboundary population across China and Russia. Country‐specific results overestimated abundance and were generally less precise compared to integrated monitoring estimates; the global population was similar in both years: 84 (70–108, 95% confidence interval). Uncertainty in country‐specific annual survival estimates were approximately twice the integrated estimates of 0.82 (0.69–0.91, 95% confidence limits). This collaborative effort provided a better understanding of Amur leopard population dynamics, represented a first step in building trust, and lead to cooperative agreements to coordinate conservation policies.
We analyzed the scats of Amur tigers and Amur leopards, and examined their annual and seasonal food habits in Northeast China to comprehend their coexistence. Wild boar had the highest annual and seasonal consumption frequencies by the tigers, while both roe deer and sika deer were mostly preyed by the leopards annually. The three species appeared to be the key preys in terms of high proportion of consumed biomass by the two felids. Our data also revealed numerous mid-sized carnivores and small mammals included in the two felids' food list. We used the relative abundance and biomass density estimation in prey density estimation to calculate the prey preferences of tigers and leopards, and both methods confirmed that Amur tigers strongly preferred wild boar. However, preference estimations of Amur leopards were not consistant, or even opposite to one another from the two methods. The results of the study suggested that prey preference of predators is largely determined by body size of the prey species. Variation in diet composition of the two felids suggests that resource partitioning may contribute to their coexistence.
The Amur leopard Panthera pardus orientalis is one of the most endangered cat subspecies in the world. The rare leopard is sympatric with Amur tiger Panthera tigris altaica and their prey in human dominated landscape. To conserve the felid species, it is important to understand the activity patterns of Amur leopards, including its interactions with Amur tigers, prey, and human activities. We used a data set from 163 camera traps to quantify the spatial-temporal overlap between Amur leopards, Amur tigers, prey species, and human disturbances (e.g., humans presence on foot, vehicles, domestic dogs, and cattle grazing) from January to December 2013 in the Hunchun Nature Reserve, NE China. Our results indicated that leopards were more active in daytime and twilight; the seasonal spatial-temporal overlaps between leopards and tigers were lower than that between leopards and their prey species. Human activities and cattle grazing could influence the spatial distribution and activity patterns of the leopards, and therefore, the conservation actions should focus on reduction of human disturbances to minimize the impacts to Amur leopard activity patterns.
Sporadic sightings of the endangered Amur tiger Panthera tigris altaica along the China-Russia border during the late 1990s sparked efforts to expand this subspecies distribution and abundance by restoring potentially suitable habitats in the Changbai Mountains. To guide science-based recovery efforts and provide a baseline for future monitoring of this border population, empirical, quantitative information is needed on what resources and management practices promote or limit the occurrence of tigers in the region. We established a large-scale field camera-trapping network to estimate tiger density, survival and recruitment in the Hunchun Nature Reserve and the surrounding area using an open population spatially explicit capture-recapture model. We then fitted an occupancy model that accounted for detectability and spatial autocorrelation to assess the relative influence of habitat, major prey, disturbance and management on tiger habitat use patterns. Our results show that the ranges of most tigers abut the border with Russia. Tiger densities ranged between 0.20 and 0.27 individuals/100 km 2 over the study area; in the Hunchun Nature Reserve, the tiger density was three times higher than that in the surrounding inland forested area. Tiger occupancy was strongly negatively related to heavy cattle grazing, human settlements and roads and was positively associated with sika deer abundance and vegetation cover. These findings can help to identify the drivers of tiger declines and dispersal limits and refine strategies for tiger conservation in the human-dominated transboundary landscape. Progressively alleviating the impacts of cattle and human disturbances on the forest, and simultaneously addressing the economic needs of local communities, should be key priority actions to increase tiger populations. The long-term goal is to expand tiger distribution by improving habitats for large ungulates.
The authors regret the following errors occurred in the original publication of the article (Guan et al. 2017). The corrected texts have been presented with this erratum.
The gut microbiota is characterized as a complex ecosystem that has effects on health and diseases of host with the interactions of many other factors together. Sika deer is the national level for the protection of wild animals in China. The available sequencing data of gut microbiota from feces of wild sika deer, especially for Cervus nippon hortulorum in Northeast China, are limited. Here, we characterized the gastrointestinal bacterial communities of wild (7 samples) and captive (12 samples) sika deer from feces, and compared their gut microbiota by analyzing the V3–V4 region of 16S rRNA gene using high-throughput sequencing technology on the Illumina Hiseq platform. Firmicutes (77.624%), Bacteroidetes (18.288%) and Tenericutes (1.342%) were the most predominant phyla in wild sika deer. While in captive sika deer, Firmicutes (50.710%) was the dominant phylum, followed by Bacteroidetes (31.996%) and Proteobacteria (4.806%). A total of 9 major phyla, 22 families and 30 genera among gastrointestinal bacterial communities showed significant differences between wild and captive sika deer. The specific function and mechanism of Tenericutes in wild sika deer need further study. Our results indicated that captive sika deer in farm had higher fecal bacterial diversity than the wild. Abundance and quantity of diet source for sika deer played crucial role in shaping the composition and structure of gut microbiota. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s13568-017-0517-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The future of the critically endangered Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is at a crucial point, and effective conservation strategies implemented within its primary historical range in Northeast China may determine the fate of this species. However, when a conservation plan was first developed for the species, scarce information on the leopards' status existed. To illustrate regional conservation challenges, we focused on the Hunchun Nature Reserve and the surrounding area along the China-Russia border, a potential stronghold for Amur leopard conservation. We conducted large-scale data analysis with a field camera-trapping network to present the first population estimates for this species using a spatially explicit capture–recapture approach. We then used a zero-inflated regression model to analyze the relationship of leopards with major prey species and anthropogen-ic disturbances. Our results indicate that leopards are returning to China, but most of them are part of a " border population " or are transient; their numbers are far too few to establish a healthy population. The spatial counts of leopards were noticeably high in areas with high prey richness and areas far from settlements and roads. Areas with few prey species and high human and cattle use exhibited a greater probability of " excess absences " of leopards. Mitigating human disturbances by progressively minimizing cattle and human impacts on the forest should be pursued along with habitat expansion for large ungulates, whose presence is essential for leopard occupancy. This study provides crucial information to support Chinese government recovery efforts and for refining conservation practices in human-dominated landscapes to ensure the long-term survival of this species.
Project - Tiger-Leopard Observation Network in China (TLON)
In fall 2015 researchers from Beijing Normal University BNU China and Land of the Leopard National Park LLNP in the Russian Far East signed a collaborative agreement for transboundary cooperation in surveys and research of the Amur tiger Pan-thera tigris altaica and Amur leopard Panthera pardus orientalis. During this meeting , camera trap databases from both sides were combined for both species for the first time ever in a systematic way.
Context The Amur tiger and leopard, once roaming over the Eurasian continent, are now endangered and confined to the Sikhote-Alin Mountains, Russia—a landscape that has been increasingly fragmented due to human activities. The ultimate fate of these big cats depends on whether they can resettle in their previous main historical range in NE China. Recent sightings of these animals along the China–Russia border have aroused new hope, but direct evidence is lacking. Objectives The main objectives of our study were (1) to determine the abundance and spatiotemporal patterns of tigers, leopards, and primary prey; (2) to investigate factors influencing the resettlement of the two big cats; and (3) to propose a landscape-scale conservation plan to secure the long-term sustainability of the Amur tiger and leopard. Methods We monitored the two felids, their prey, and human activities, with 380 camera-trap stations, for a total of 175,127 trap days and over an area of 6000 km2 in NE China. We used the constraint line method to characterize cattle grazing and human influences on tigers, leopards, and their prey species. Results Our results show that, unexpectedly, at least 26 tigers and 42 leopards are present within China, which are confined primarily to a narrow area along the border with Russia. We have further identified that cattle grazing and human disturbances are the key hurdles to the dispersal of the tigers and leopards farther into China where suitable habitat is potentially available. Conclusions Amur tigers and leopards are returning to China, indeed, but their long-term resettlement is not likely without active and timely conservation efforts on landscape and regional scales. To overcome the hurdles to the resettlement of tigers and leopards in China, we propose a “Tiger and Leopard Resettlement Program” that will engage the government, local communities, and researchers, so that the long-term sustainability of the Amur tigers and leopards can be ensured.
As an apex predator the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica Temminck, 1844) could play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of forest ecosystems in Northeast Asia. Due to habitat loss and harvest over the past century, tigers rapidly declined in China and are now restricted to the Russian Far East and bordering habitat in nearby China. To facilitate restoration of the tiger in its historical range, reliable estimates of population size are essential to assess effectiveness of conservation interventions. Here we used camera trap data collected in Hunchun National Nature Reserve from April to June of 2013 and 2014 to estimate tiger density and abundance using both maximum likelihood and Bayesian spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) methods. A minimum of eight individuals were detected in both sample periods and the documentation of marking behavior and reproduction suggests the presence of a resident population. Using Bayesian SECR modeling within the 11,400 km(2) state space, density estimates were 0.33 and 0.40 individuals/100 km(2) in 2013 and 2014, respectively, corresponding to an estimated abundance of 38 and 45 animals for this transboundary Sino-Russia population. In a maximum likelihood framework, we estimated densities of 0.30 and 0.24 individuals/100 km(2) corresponding to abundances of 34 and 27, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. These density estimates are comparable to other published estimates for resident Amur tiger populations in the Russian Far East. This study reveals promising signs of tiger recovery in Northeast China, and demonstrates the importance of connectivity between the Russian and Chinese populations for recovering tigers in Northeast China. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Over the past century, the endangered Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) has experienced a severe contraction in demography and geographic range because of habitat loss, poaching, and prey depletion. In its historical home in Northeast China, there appears to be a single tiger population that includes tigers in Southwest Primorye and Northeast China; however, the current demographic status of this population is uncertain. Information on the abundance, distribution and genetic diversity of this population for assessing the efficacy of conservation interventions are scarce. We used noninvasive genetic detection data from scats, capture-recapture models and an accumulation curve method to estimate the abundance of Amur tigers in Northeast China. We identified 11 individual tigers (6 females and 5 males) using 10 microsatellite loci in three nature reserves between April 2013 and May 2015. These tigers are confined primarily to a Hunchun Nature Reserve along the border with Russia, with an estimated population abundance of 9-11 tigers during the winter of 2014-2015. They showed a low level of genetic diversity. The mean number of alleles per locus was 2.60 and expected and observed heterozygosity were 0.42 and 0.49, respectively. We also documented long-distance dispersal (~270 km) of a male Amur tiger to Huangnihe Nature Reserve from the border, suggesting that the expansion of neighboring Russian populations may eventually help sustain Chinese populations. However, the small and isolated population recorded by this study demonstrate that there is an urgent need for more intensive regional management to create a tiger-permeable landscape and increased genetic connectivity with other populations.
The future of the critically endangered Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is at a crucial point, and effective conservation strategies implemented within its primary historical range in Northeast China may determine the fate of this species. However, when a conservation plan was first developed for the species, scarce information on the leopards' status existed. To illustrate regional conservation challenges, we focused on the Hunchun Nature Reserve and the surrounding area along the China-Russia border, a potential stronghold for Amur leopard conservation. We conducted large-scale data analysis with a field camera-trapping network to present the first population estimates for this species using a spatially explicit capture-recapture approach. We then used a zero-inflated regression model to analyze the relationship of leopards with major prey species and anthropogenic disturbances. Our results indicate that leopards are returning to China, but most of them are part of a "border population" or are transient; their numbers are far too few to establish a healthy population. The spatial counts of leopards were noticeably high in areas with high prey richness and areas far from settlements and roads. Areas with few prey species and high human and cattle use exhibited a greater probability of "excess absences" of leopards. Mitigating human disturbances by progressively minimizing cattle and human impacts on the forest should be pursued along with habitat expansion for large ungulates, whose presence is essential for leopard occupancy. This study provides crucial information to support Chinese government recovery efforts and for refining conservation practices in human-dominated landscapes to ensure the long-term survival of this species.
- Apr 2016
The genus Capricornis (Caprinae, Bovidae) includes six species, i.e., Capriconis sumatraensis, Capricornis swinhoei, Capricornis crispus, Capricornis rubidus, Capricornis milneedwardsii and Capricornis thar. Based on morphological, anatomical and physiological evidence, the Himalayan serow (C. thar), which is distributed in the mountain regions of the Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas, is generally classified as a species of the genus Capricornis. However, considering the lack of molecular phylogenetic evidence, a heated controversy still exists over the taxonomic position of the Himalayan serow. To determine the phylogenetic status of C. thar, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) of one Himalayan serow using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Then, we constructed a molecular phylogenetic tree of the genus Capricornis and its related species in the Caprinae subfamily based on maximum likelihood and Bayesian interference methods. The results reflect that the structural characteristics, nucleotide content and codon usage bias of the mitochondrial genome of the Himalayan serow were similar to those of other serows. A phylogenetic analysis using two rRNA genes and 12 encoded protein-coding genes indicated that C. thar is clustered within the C. milneedwardsii clade, which is a sister group of C. sumatraensis. The present study provides useful information about the evolution of the Himalayan serow, which will be essential for conservation genetic studies.
Long-distance dispersal of an Amur tiger indicates potential to restore the North-east China/Russian Tiger Landscape - Volume 49 Issue 4 - Tianming Wang, Limin Feng, Pu Mou, Jianping Ge, Cheng Li, James L.D. Smith
We monitored the last remaining Asian elephant populations in China over the past decade. Using DNA tools and repeat genotyping, we estimated the population sizes from 654 dung samples collected from various areas. Combined with morphological individual identifications from over 6,300 elephant photographs taken in the wild, we estimated that the total Asian elephant population size in China is between 221 and 245. Population genetic structure and diversity were examined using a 556-bp fragment of mitochondrial DNA, and 24 unique haplotypes were detected from DNA analysis of 178 individuals. A phylogenetic analysis revealed two highly divergent clades of Asian elephants, α and β, present in Chinese populations. Four populations (Mengla, Shangyong, Mengyang, and Pu'Er) carried mtDNA from the α clade, and only one population (Nangunhe) carried mtDNA belonging to the β clade. Moreover, high genetic divergence was observed between the Nangunhe population and the other four populations; however, genetic diversity among the five populations was low, possibly due to limited gene flow because of habitat fragmentation. The expansion of rubber plantations, crop cultivation, and villages along rivers and roads had caused extensive degradation of natural forest in these areas. This had resulted in the loss and fragmentation of elephant habitats and had formed artificial barriers that inhibited elephant migration. Using Geographic Information System, Global Positioning System, and Remote Sensing technology, we found that the area occupied by rubber plantations, tea farms, and urban settlements had dramatically increased over the past 40 years, resulting in the loss and fragmentation of elephant habitats and forming artificial barriers that inhibit elephant migration. The restoration of ecological corridors to facilitate gene exchange among isolated elephant populations and the establishment of cross-boundary protected areas between China and Laos to secure their natural habitats are critical for the survival of Asian elephants in this region.
Evidence of Amur tiger Panthera tigris altaica reproduction in the wild is very scarce in China. A camera-trap record from 6 November 2013, outside Hunchun Nature Reserve in northeast China’s Changbai Mountains, provided the first videotaped evidence of a female Amur tiger with 4 cubs in the wild. Such reproduction occurrence records give a promising sign that the tiger population is recovering in China and are key to the guidance of future transboundary conservation planning along the China- Russia border.
Background/Question/Methods Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), the largest tiger subspecies, is the keystone species and the top predator in the mixed broadleaf and Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) forest ecosystem in northeastern Asia, while tiger is categrized as an endangered species by IUCN red list. Most of Amur tiger’s habitat and population were lost in past century. Currently, there are 400500 individuals in total, mostly distributed in Russia with a few in China. To conserve tiger in China with appropriate actions, it is crucial to have an accurate evaluation of the Amur tiger population in northeastern China. We analyzed data taken by 87 camera traps from the surveys conducted in Hunchun Nature Reserve (1,222 km2) across China-Russia borderlands. Population size of tiger was estimated by using spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) model based on maximum likelihood estimation and Bayesian estimation with an data augmentation framework. The two estimation values were then compared and discussed. We also applied the non-spatial capture recapture model to estimate tiger population size and further analyzed the population density with an ad hoc estimation of the effective trapping area. Results/Conclusions The non-spatial model estimation of tiger population in Hunchun Nature Reserve has 11-12.5 individuals, and its population density is 0.32 individuals/100 km2, while the SECR models estimation of tiger population density is 0.23 to 0.30 individuals/100 km2. The density estimated by the SECR models is smaller than the estimates of non-spatial model. We recommended SECR model because the spatially explicit method can avoid the bias resulting from an informal estimation to the effective survey area. The pixelated density map based on Bayesian model illustrated high density of tiger along the China-Russia border, especially in the mid-section. Different from the previous speculation that recent occurrence of Amur tiger in China are dispersing transients on sporadic forays from Russia, we documented the successful breeding and frequent territory-marking behaviors of Amur tiger in Hunchun Nature Reserve, indicating the residency of adult Amur tiger within China. This population will be the key source of tiger population recoveryin China. We outlined the importance of maintaining the cross-border connectivity for long-term conservation of the binational population of Amur tiger across the China-Russia borderlands.
Background/Question/Methods Large cats, the top predators in many ecosystems, had declined or been extinct during the last century. Accurate assessments of their current status are difficult due to low population density, large home range, and elusiveness of observations. The camera-trapping technique becomes a promising tool for monitoring the animals. Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is one of critically endangered cat, and believed to live only in two separate populations in the southern tip of Russia Fareast and northeast China. Here we reported our preliminary results on a newly discovered Amur leopard population in Northeast China, and it prey densities. An intensive camera-trapping survey for Amur leopard was carried out from July 2013 to November 2013. Total 61 trapping sites were selected to form a network of grids, with each representing a 3.6X3.6 km habitat area. The average trapping time was 135-day, for total 8241 trapping days. Images were labeled and then processed by Capture histories for each species. Rowcliffe’s random encounter model (REM) was used to estimate densities of prey species. Occupancy model was applied to all prey species and leopard. The prey densities were introduced as co-variables in leopard occupancy analysis. Results/Conclusions During the monitoring period, we obtained 21 leopard images with a trapping rate of 0.25 (100* pictures of animal/days). We totally recorded 30 species including four main leopard prey species: red deer, sika deer, wild boar and roe deer. Since the pictures of sika deer and red deer were less than 10, we applied REM for roe deer 1.9390(±0.68), and wild boar 0.3371(±0.28) only to estimate their densities. The standard-transferred total prey density (measured as number of average roe deer) was 2.46/km2, and this indicate that the area could support 3-6 adult leopards. Occupancy analysis of preys showed diverse spatial patterns for different prey species. However, the occupancy of leopard had a decreasing south-north gradient, which was highly correlated with the standard prey densities across trapping sites. Leopards were intensively observed and several individuals were constantly observed in the survey area. Prey density analysis support that a viable leopard population could have persisted there. Prey density could explain a large portion of variation of leopard occupancy.
Abstract The North Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis) is an endemic subspecies of Panthera pardus to China, living in small and isolated populations with a severely fragmented distribution. Here we first sequenced and annotated its complete mitochondrial genome. The total length of the North Chinese Leopard is of 16,966 base pairs that consist of 2 rRNA gene, 22 tRNA genes, 13 protein-coding genes, 1 OLR and 1 control region (CR). The structures of the genomes were highly similar to other Felidae.
Abstract The genus Capricornis was widely distributed in Asia. In the present study, the complete mitochondrial genome of Capricornis sp., possible a new species of Serow from Guizhou province of China, was sequenced for the first time. Sequence analysis showed it is 16,441 bp in length, consisting of 12S rRNA gene, 16S rRNA gene, 22 transfer RNA (tRNA) genes, 13 protein-coding genes and one control region (CR).
During the last two decades, infrared-triggered camera-trapping has been widely used in wildlife and biodiversity research and conservation. In the areas of wildlife ecology research, animal species inventory , biodiversity monitoring and protected area management in China, considerable outputs have been produced by scientific research and conservation applications based on camera-trapping. This technique has been successfully used to detect rare or elusive species, conduct biodiversity inventory, study animal behavior , estimate population parameters, and evaluate the effectiveness of protected area management. Along with the rapid development of modern ecological analysis and modeling tools, camera-trapping will play a more important role in wildlife research at various levels. Meanwhile, along with improvements in techniques, decreasing cost and increasing application interests, camera-trapping will be adopted by more researchers, wildlife managers and protected areas, and can be used for systematic wildlife monitoring using standard protocols. Efforts devoted to its future development and applications should focus on establishing systematically designed monitoring networks and data-sharing protocols, and developing new analytical approaches and statistical models specifically based on camera-trapping data.
Limited information exists on the population status of wild Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris cobetti) in China. This research reports the first field survey on the Indochinese tiger and its prey base in southern Yunnan of China. Pugmark identification was used to estimate the population size of tigers during the survey in Shangyong Nature Reserve of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province. The pellet-plot counting method was used to estimate the density of three ungulate species, including sambar deer, wild boar and barking deer, which are the major prey species of tigers in the region. Results indicate that at least 3 different individuals, a male and two female Indochinese tigers, occupied Shangyong during the period from 2004 to 2009. Our results also demonstrated that density of ungulates was high in Shangyong Nature Reserve, especially for sambar deer, which is the key prey species for tigers. Population densities were estimated as follows: sambar deer, 7.63 (7.40~9.23) individuals/km2; barking deer, 17.39 (11.33~24.94) individuals/km2; wild boar, 10.26 (7.69~14.51) individuals/km2. The total prey biomass in Shangyong was approximately 1715.74 kg/km2. The results suggested that preseerving a healthy prey population is extremely important to the survival and future recovery of tigers in China.
Population parameter estimation and spatial distribution pattern are the main issues in animal ecology and conservation biology. In recent decades, camera trap as a non-invasive technique in field survey has been widely used in wildlife ecology and conservation research, and showed its great superiority under the conditions of traditional survey methods difficult to achieve. The animal presence data collected by camera trap can provide extremely valuable quantitative information on wildlife populations. In this review, the operational principles of camera trap were introduced to provide an intuitive understanding of this technique, and then, the applications of this technique in two main fields of population ecology, i. e. , population density and abundance estimation and spatial occupancy estimation for the species with or without natural unique individual markings, were discussed, with special attention to the logic of development, assumptions, limits in application, challenges, and future directions of model development. Finally, the important aspects which should be kept in mind when using camera trap in estimating wildlife population parameters as well as the potential capacities of camera trap in the researches of population dynamics and biodiversity, were comprehensively analyzed.
- Oct 2011
As a part of a research project on the Siberian tiger Panthera tigris altaica）and the Amur leopard Panthera pardus orientalis）of northeast China, we established a camera-trap network to monitor the dynamics of the population. A wild male Amur leopard was recorded by camera trap in the Hunchun National Nature Reserve, Jilin province, China, on 18 October 2010. This was the first time that a Amur leopard has been photographed in the natural forested area of northeast China and confirmed the existence of the species in this area.
Background/Question/Methods Amur tiger, a keystone species in Northeast Asia, has experienced dramatic population decline in the last century. Habitat losses, poaching, and deprivation of preys are believed to be main causes. Recent conservation measures have been implemented, but the effectiveness is still unclear. The density of tiger prey may serve as quantitative indicator for measuring those effects. Rowcliffe et al.’s gas model (2008) was adopted to estimate the density of the two most popular tiger prey, Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa). 27 infrared-triggered cameras have been set in an area (43.0°N~45.0°N, 130.5°E~131.5°E) near Sino-Russian border began from Sep. 2008. Present/Absent data were collected on the daily bases from photographs taken by each camera to run Rowcliffe’s model. Two main detective zone parameters (radius and angle) and two animal movement parameters (distance per day and group size) were systematically perturbed to show the possible ranges of density, and bootstrapping technique was used to estimate standard deviations caused by sampling stochasticity. The probable relationships between environmental factors and trapping rates of each camera-site were later explored. Results/Conclusions During the trapping period, 183 pictures of 13 species were photographed, including 71 independent events for roe deer and 19 for wild boar. The density was estimated to be 0.46(±0.80) individuals/km2 for roe deer, and 0.06(±0.25) for wild boar, when all parameters are in the best estimates. Variation in detective parameters (radius: 5-15 m, angle: 10°-30°) and animal movement distance (0.5-10 km/day for roe deer, 1-20 km/day for wild boar) may cause mean density varied from 6.51 (±11.38) to 0.09 (±0.19) individuals/km2 for the roe deer, and from 0.78 (±3.40) to 0.01 (±0.04) individuals/km2 for the wild boar. Group size appeared to be different in photos between summer and winter, and had influence on density estimation. It can be concluded that using camera traps can achieve reasonable density estimations that were comparable with results of traditional surveys from former literatures. However, the sample size seems very insufficient to get stable estimations, and model parameters have great influences on density estimations. Not many significant relationships were found between trapping rate and environmental factors, probably due to small sample size resulting in insufficient statistics test power.
Since late 2003, the highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1 had initiated several outbreak waves that swept across the Eurasia and Africa continents. Getting prepared for reassortment or mutation of H5N1 viruses has become a global priority. Although the spreading mechanism of H5N1 has been studied from different perspectives, its main transmission agents and spread route problems remain unsolved. Based on a compilation of the time and location of global H5N1 outbreaks from November 2003 to December 2006, we report an interdisciplinary effort that combines the geospatial informatics approach with a bioinformatics approach to form an improved understanding on the transmission mechanisms of H5N1 virus. Through a spherical coordinate based analysis, which is not conventionally done in geographical analyses, we reveal obvious spatial and temporal clusters of global H5N1 cases on different scales, which we consider to be associated with two different transmission modes of H5N1 viruses. Then through an interdisciplinary study of both geographic and phylogenetic analysis, we obtain a H5N1 spreading route map. Our results provide insight on competing hypotheses as to which avian hosts are responsible for the spread of H5N1. We found that although South China and Southeast Asia may be the virus pool of avian flu, East Siberia may be the source of the H5N1 epidemic. The concentration of migratory birds from different places increases the possibility of gene mutation. Special attention should be paid to East Siberia, Middle Siberia and South China for improved surveillance of H5N1 viruses and monitoring of migratory birds.
This work studied habitat selection of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in the dry season at Nangunhe National Nature Reserve, Yunnan of China. Village investigation and line-transect samples were used during the field survey. Waypoints were made about 1 km apart along sampling lines with 195 km in total. Data were collected on vegetation type, vegetation abundance, geography parameters (aspect, slope, location and elevation), population status and frequency of elephant sightings. A total of 54 elephant trace points were tracked during the survey in the dry season of 2005. 3S (GIS, GPS, RS) technology was used to analyze the data obtained from field survey and satellite images. Vanderploge and Scavia' s selectivity index were used to assess Asian elephants' selection for different habitat parameters. The results indicated that elephants preferred habitat where elevation was less than 1000 meters, slope less than 20°, located in a valley and oriented north, southeast and south. Elephant-preferred vegetation included bamboo-broad-leaved mixed forest and shrub. Asian elephants showed a preference for denser coverage shrub layer and arbor layer with lower height, dense canopy and small DBH. Based on satellite images, we analyzed the forest dynamics from 1988 to 2007 and found heavy loss of suitable habitat which seriously threatened the survival of Asian elephant in Nangunhe National Nature Reserve. Preventing habitat loss and degradation, and strengthening the control of poaching would be the key tasks for the conservation of elephants in Nangunhe.
Elephants were confined to Mengyang Protected Area in China and their distribution range had reduced greatly compared to past records. A preliminary study of habitat selection by Asian elephantsElephas maximus Linnaeus, 1758 and their distribution was conducted in Mengyang Protected Area and its surrounds using site visits and transect surveys from July 2003 to December 2006. Although no variable significantly influenced their habitat selection, elephants still showed preference for altitudes between 900 and 1200 m, gradients <30°, and orientations to the south-east, south and south-west. Human activities, including habitat transformation and degradation, disturbance by large infrastructure and poaching were considered to be the main factors inducing elephant distribution changes. Key words Elephas maximus -logistic regression-human-wildlife conflict-transformation-poaching-habitat alteration-conservation-road ecology
This paper is based on the fieldwork in Xishuangbanna Natioanl Nature Reserve in Yunnan Province of China. GPS data of Asian elephants were collected and analyzed with the remote sensing satellite photos of the region to estimate the landform physiognomy of different colors. We also analyzed a series of ecological factors including altitude, landform, relief, villages and roads which affected the distribution and movement of Asian elephants. The results suggested the possibility of designing and establishing corridors in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve to protect the population of wild elephants in the region.
The distribution of Asian elephants (Elphas maximus) in Shangyong Nature Reserve and its surroundings was studied by site visits, elephant trace surveys and 3S techniques (GIS, GPS, RS) from September 2004 to December 2006. Activity traces of elephants were tracked and located by GPS, and their distribution range was analyzed from these GPS points, the data from field surveys and satellite images. The results indicated that the distribution range of elephants covered an area of 395 km , including Shangyong Nature Reserve, part of the collective forest of Shangzhongliang, Manfen, Hetu and Nanping village which is located to the west of Shangyong Nature Reserve, and it had a long-narrow corridor spreading from Hetu, Nanping, through Tianfang, Longkuang and Kafeierdui, then reaches its destination in Nam Ha Nature Reserve in Laos. The "S" shaped corridor was wider on the two ends and narrower in the middle with a width of 0.66 km. Meanwhile, natural forest covered only 37.6% area of the corridor and was not continuous. From August 2002 to December 2006, six elephant trans-boundary movements through this corridor were recorded. It was believed that habitat loss and fragmentation, crop raiding behavior of elephants, human disturbance and illegal poaching were factors leading elephants to spread their range area and finally open up this new movement corridor. However, the long-narrow "S" shaped structure and continuous reduction of forest could not only impact utilization of the corridor by elephants, but also intensify the human-elephant conflicts in the region. Therefore, measures such as building ecological corridors, strengthening antipoaching enforcement and managing the current habitat should be taken to restore habitat and to mitigate human-elephant conflicts.
- Dec 2006
Traditional conservation strategies can effectively preserve biodiversity within nature reserves, but may fail to mitigate the conflicts between rural development and wildlife conservation. This paper discusses the magnitude of the conflict and its development over time, focusing on elephant conservation and land resource management within and around nature reserves. We suggest that regulations alone can satisfy neither the demands to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services nor the demands to achieve human welfare. More innovative tools such as informed land-use planning and integrated conservation development projects are called for to reduce the agricultural interface with elephant range, and therefore to alleviate the damage caused by the conflict.
The habitat selection of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) was studied from August 2003 to August 2004 in Shangyong protected area in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve, Yunnan, China. Village visiting and transect were used to survey the habitat utilization of Asian elephant. The transects were made about 2 km each through the elephant habitat and data were collected on vegetation type, vegetation aboundance, geography parameters (aspect, slope, location etc.), elevation, population status, frequency of elephant sightings, and other wildlife sighting were recorded. A total of 109 elephant trace points were tracked. 3S (GIS, GPS, RS) technology was used to analyze the data obtained from field surveys and satellite images. Vanderploge and Scavia's selectivity index was used to assess Asian elephant's selection for the different habitat parameters. The results indicated that Asian elephant preferred to select habitat with an altitude less than 1 000 meters, a slope less than 10°, and locations in valleies, with a north and south orientation. The selected habitats were bamboo-evergreen broadleaf mixed forest, shrub and grassland. Asian elephants preferred dense coverage shrub layer and an arbor layer with lower height, dense canopy and small trunk radius. It was also found that the loss of suitable habitat and the illegal hunting for ivory were two major threats the survival of Asian elephants in Shangyong protected area. How to prevent the habitat loss and fragmentation, and how to efficiently control the poaching will be key tasks to the elephant conservation efforts in Xishuangbanna.