Article

The hidden risk of using umbrella species as conservation surrogates: A spatio-temporal approach

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Abstract

The use of a charismatic umbrella species as surrogate for sympatric species is often advocated as an efficient approach. However, comprehensive evaluations from a spatio-temporal perspective are few, leaving the long-term effectiveness of such practices remain uncertain. We modeled the habitat change for giant panda and eight sympatric mammalian species using observations from extensive camera trap surveys and remotely-sensed environmental predictors during two time periods, early 2000s and early 2010s. We found that the degree and spatial pattern of the habitat suitability change varied among species. The overall habitat suitability improved between the early 2000s and early 2010s for seven target species including giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca, suggesting positive effects of several recent conservation projects in restoring natural landscapes for certain species groups. However, the current nature reserve system designed for giant pandas did not adequately cover critical landscapes for several species, including the two species who experienced net habitat loss, Endangered forest musk deer Moschus berezovskii and Vulnerble Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus. To conserve multiple species simultaneously in this region, we recommend establishing nature reserves for other threatened species who share dissimilar habitat needs with giant panda, and adding a widely distributed omnivores, Asiatic black bear, as a surrogate species in central and southwest China. These findings reveal the risk of using umbrella species as a conservation shortcut in protecting animal communities in China, and have substantial implications for other regions where the majority of the conservation funds are directed toward a single charismatic species.

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... In terrestrial ecosystems, megafaunal species (> 15 kg, terrestrial mammals) are often used as flagship or indicator species to provide an umbrella in developing priorities for other taxa and ecosystems, yet they are known to be poor indicators for small-bodied species or the ecosystems they frequently depend on 14,15 . These measures do not ensure effective conservation and often lead to biases in funding allocation, decisions on conservation and management priorities 16,17 thus compromising effective conservation of other taxa with possible ramifications for ecological function 18,19 . ...
... important to develop priorities, as frequently priorities fail to represent what is genuinely important or do not represent communities effectively 14,58 . In particular, species deemed as "charismatic" may monopolise funding whilst failing to provide significant benefits to the wider ecological community 14,15 . ...
... important to develop priorities, as frequently priorities fail to represent what is genuinely important or do not represent communities effectively 14,58 . In particular, species deemed as "charismatic" may monopolise funding whilst failing to provide significant benefits to the wider ecological community 14,15 . Whilst various taxa have been used as indicators for diversity in subterranean habitats 59 , bats represent better surrogates for cave conservation because they not only provide the main source of energy for cave-ecosystems but are also easier to assess and reflect changes from both internal and surfaces 50,51 . ...
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Research and media attention is disproportionately focused on taxa and ecosystems perceived as charismatic, while other systems with high levels of endemism, are often under-protected and overlooked such as caves and subterranean ecosystems. Yet these more challenging systems are also threatened, with karsts for example losing around 6% of their area each year, highlighting the urgent need for protection, especially as up to 90% of cave endemic species may be undescribed. Bats are keystone to cave ecosystems making them potential surrogates to understand cave diversity patterns and assay conservation priorities. Almost half (48%) of known bat species use caves for parts of their life histories, with 32% endemic to a single country, and 15% currently threatened. We combine global analysis of cave bats from the IUCN with site specific analysis of 1930 bat caves from 46 countries to develop global priorities for the conservation of the most vulnerable cave ecosystems. Globally, 28% of caves showed high diversity and were highly threatened and 4% had high diversity but not currently threatened. Amongst regions, the highest concentration of conservation priority caves were in the Palearctic, and tropical regions except the Afrotropics, which requires more intensive data sampling. Our results further highlight the importance of prioritising bat caves using locally collected data, and parameter selection is optimised (i.e., appropriate landscape features and threats). Finally, to protect and conserve these ecosystems it is crucial that we identify priorities in species and habitat-level, and map vulnerable habitats with the highest biodiversity and distinctiveness.
... Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is one of the most recognized charismatic large-bodied mammals in the world and an umbrella species of wildlife conservation in China (Li and Pimm, 2016;Kang et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2021aWang et al., , 2021b. Many endangered and vulnerable species (e.g. the golden snub-monkey Rhinopithecus roxellana, lesser panda Ailurus fulgens and blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus) that are sympatric with the giant panda have been well protected via the strict protection of giant pandas (Xu et al., 2014), although a latest study indicated that forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii) Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) had few net habitat improvements under such conservation efforts (Wang et al., 2021a). ...
... Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is one of the most recognized charismatic large-bodied mammals in the world and an umbrella species of wildlife conservation in China (Li and Pimm, 2016;Kang et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2021aWang et al., , 2021b. Many endangered and vulnerable species (e.g. the golden snub-monkey Rhinopithecus roxellana, lesser panda Ailurus fulgens and blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus) that are sympatric with the giant panda have been well protected via the strict protection of giant pandas (Xu et al., 2014), although a latest study indicated that forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii) Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) had few net habitat improvements under such conservation efforts (Wang et al., 2021a). As the most effective way to protect giant panda and its sympatric species, the Chinese government has established 67 giant panda nature reserves (GPNR) since 1963, which cover approximately 58% of the areas that are considered as giant panda habitats (State Forestry Administration, 2015). ...
... As the most effective way to protect giant panda and its sympatric species, the Chinese government has established 67 giant panda nature reserves (GPNR) since 1963, which cover approximately 58% of the areas that are considered as giant panda habitats (State Forestry Administration, 2015). Despite the great conservation efforts by the government, some medium-and large-bodied mammal (MLM) species in the GPNRs are experiencing population decline that leads to mammalian defaunation and incomplete ecosystem functioning (Wen et al., 2020;Wang et al., 2021a). The threats to these animals include climate warming, logging, livestock farming, wildlife tourism and infrastructure construction within reserves (Wei et al., 2020;Kang, 2021;Wang et al., 2021a). ...
Article
The charismatic giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is an iconic species of wildlife conservation worldwide. As the most effective measure to protect giant pandas and their habitats, China has established 67 giant panda nature reserves (GPNR) during the last five decades, which also bring benefits to many sympatric medium- and large-bodied mammals (MLM). To better inform the planning of the GPNR network with the view of preserving regional MLM diversity, we investigated the zeta diversity (a novel index to measure species compositional turnover considering the contributions of both rare and common species) patterns (i.e. zeta decline and retention rate curve) of MLMs across 40 GPNRs. The effects of species’ body mass and conservation status on the zeta diversity patterns were tested. Further, we applied the multi-site generalized dissimilarity modelling (MS-GDM) framework to explore the impacts of environmental and geographic distances on MLM turnover. The results indicated that there are a core set of 17 MLM species sympatric with the giant panda in the GPNRs. Species’ body mass can affect the patterns of zeta decline and retention rate curves, and the number of large-bodied species shared by multiple GPNRs is higher than that of medium-bodied species across zeta orders. The MS-GDM revealed the important roles of difference in habitat heterogeneity and spatial distance between GPNRs in driving MLM turnover. Consequently, we advocate maintaining and increasing the diversity of (natural) habitats in GPNRs to protect giant panda’s sympatric MLM diversity. The government should consider optimizing the GPNR network (e.g. incorporating multiple small GPNRs into one single large reserve) to capture the most turnover of MLMs, and the newly-established Giant Panda National Park is relevant to fulfilling this long-term goal.
... Population dispersal of certain charismatic species (e.g., tiger, elephant) has been facilitated through the initiation of landscapescale habitat connectivity approaches (Brodie et al., 2016). But, such single or few species-focused management approaches often come at the cost of undermining the ecological needs and threats of many other sympatric species that have important ecological and conservation value (Wang et al., 2018(Wang et al., , 2021. This is especially true for species having a less charismatic demeanor with poor representation in the network of PAs (Guan et al., 2015;Wang et al., 2021). ...
... But, such single or few species-focused management approaches often come at the cost of undermining the ecological needs and threats of many other sympatric species that have important ecological and conservation value (Wang et al., 2018(Wang et al., , 2021. This is especially true for species having a less charismatic demeanor with poor representation in the network of PAs (Guan et al., 2015;Wang et al., 2021). The south Asian endemic sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) exemplifies the conservation challenges faced by such species (Puri et al., 2015). ...
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Once widespread throughout the tropical forests of the Indian Subcontinent, the sloth bears have suffered a rapid range collapse and local extirpations in the recent decades. A significant portion of their current distribution range is situated outside of the protected areas (PAs). These unprotected sloth bear populations are under tremendous human pressures, but little is known about the patterns and determinants of their occurrence in most of these regions. The situation is more prevalent in Nepal where virtually no systematic information is available for sloth bears living outside of the PAs. We undertook a spatially replicated sign survey-based single-season occupancy study intending to overcome this information gap for the sloth bear populations residing in the Trijuga forest of southeast Nepal. Sloth bear sign detection histories and field-based covariates data were collected between 2 October and 3 December 2020 at the 74 randomly chosen 4-km 2 grid cells. From our results, the model-averaged site use probability (ψ ± SE) was estimated to be 0.432 ± 0.039, which is a 13% increase from the naïve estimate (0.297) not accounting for imperfect detections of sloth bear signs. The presence of termite mound and the distance to the nearest water source were the most important variables affecting the habitat use probability of sloth bears. The average site-level detectability (p ± SE) of sloth bear signs was estimated to be 0.195 ± 0.003 and was significantly determined by the index of human disturbances. We recommend considering the importance of fine-scale ecological and anthropogenic factors in predicting the sloth bear-habitat relationships across their range in the Churia habitat of Nepal, and more specifically in the unprotected areas.
... In contrast, Simberloff (1998) warns that flagship species might not be good surrogates for broader biodiversity or ecosystem protection because there is the potential for the flagship species to disappear and public emotional investment to turn to disenchantment. Wang et al. (2021) also warn of the risk of using umbrella species as a conservation shortcut and diverting scarce funds toward a single charismatic species. Once a flagship species has disappeared, there is little hope for other species or the environment in general (Fleishman et al., 2001). ...
Article
We investigated the success of the Koala Conservation and Education Program conducted in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia from 2000-2009 by interviewing 28 individuals, from various stakeholder groups involved in the project. Transcripts were analysed using grounded theory to identify common themes, keywords and phrases. We conclude that the chosen 'flagship' species, the koala, was crucial for the success of the project which culminated in the adoption of the Koala Plan of Management and habitat overlays into the City of Ballarat's planning scheme. Local people were concerned about the koala based on its conservation status nationally and globally rather than because of its local or Victorian status. We conclude that the concept of 'flagship' species in the case of the koala, is more a global than a local construct. He is committed to exploring the connections that people have with the flagship species, Koala. He has been working collaboratively on a series of journal articles on various aspects of koala conservation through his association with the Koala History and Sustainability Research Cluster and Koala Research-CQ. Honorary Professor Barry Golding AM is widely published in the international adult education field. His research has gravitated towards informal learning in community settings, with a specialization in older men's learning and community Men's Sheds: see www.barrygoanna.com. Barry Kentish (EdD) worked with Federation University and its predecessors, for almost three decades. His diverse research included aspects of freshwater ecology, bird pest management and latterly environmental ethics and the links to higher and community environmental education. The movement of his research towards a more philosophical basis is founded on his contention that it is essential for ethical considerations to underpin and inform environmental management decisions. Gabrielle McGinnis is a PhD graduate from the University of Newcastle, with research interests in Indigenous methodologies, biocultural heritage conservation and sustainable tourism development using digital technologies. Gabrielle is CEO and Founder of BrodiMapi LLC, whose mission is to provide digital mapping and marketing services to those who wish to preserve, conserve and share biocultural heritage. She is currently focusing on koala tourism and its history as a researcher, digital media manager and is a co-founding member of the Koala History and Sustainability Research Cluster. Ian D. Clark is an Adjunct Professor at Federation University and Monash University. He holds a PhD from Monash University in Aboriginal historical geography and has been researching Victorian Aboriginal and settler colonial history since 1982. His research interests include biography, local history, toponyms, the history of tourism, and genealogy. He is a co-founding member of the Koala History and Sustainability Research Cluster, a collaboration of researchers from different disciplines concerned with the future of the iconic koala. Tim Cadman is a Research Fellow in the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law and the Law Futures Centre at Griffith University. Tim specialises in the governance of sustainable development, natural resource management including forestry, and climate change. He is currently overseeing the implementation of a research project in Nepal focused on the protection of the Red panda through habitat conservation and restoration at the landscape level, in collaboration with local communities. Fred Cahir (PhD) lives and works on Wadawurrung Country at Ballarat, Victoria. He is Associate Professor of Aboriginal History in the School of Arts at Federation University Australia. His research in recent decades has been focused on Victorian Aboriginal history during the colonial period, and on understanding the contribution Aboriginal people made to the foundations of our nation-state, and of the roles they played on the frontier, especially in connection to fire, flood and food. Flavia Santamaria!s PhD researched the impact of translocation on the health, food selection and movement of koalas from French Island to forests around Ballarat, Victoria. Flavia has worked on projects that included GIS koala habitat mapping and koala surveys in Victoria and Queensland. Her current and future research foci are on koalas' response to stress and kKoala ecology, and in particular the impact of anthropogenic environmental changes on koala populations, including the potential pressure of environmental stress on their health (i.e., Chlamydia). She is committed to educating communities on sustainability using the koala as a flagship species. Statement of authenticity: This manuscript is an original work that has not been submitted to nor published anywhere else."
... Clearly, the critiques to the umbrella species conservation concept apply to the monitoring equivalent [7][8][9] . Nevertheless, when developing a monitoring protocol, one should always test if and to what extent other species may be covered, since small tweaks to the program may allow conservation practitioners to derive broader benefits. ...
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Developing cost-effective monitoring protocols is a priority for wildlife conservation agencies worldwide. In particular, developing protocols that cover a wide range of species is highly desirable. Here we applied the ‘umbrella species’ concept to the context of ecological monitoring; specifically testing the hypothesis that protocols developed for the American marten would contextually allow detecting occupancy trends for 13 other mammalian species (i.e., an umbrella effect). We conducted a large-scale four-year camera trapping survey across a gradient of forest disturbance in Maine, USA. We sampled 197 sites using a total of 591 cameras and collected over 800,000 photographs to generate detection histories for the most common terrestrial species. By combining multi-season occupancy modelling and power analyses, we estimated the required sampling effort to detect 10%, 25% and 50% declines in the fourteen species. By conducting a spatially explicit comparison of sampling effort, we found evidence that monitoring protocols for American marten would provide an umbrella effect for up to 11 other mammal species. The capacity of the umbrella effect varied among species, with fisher, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, and black bear consistently covered under several scenarios. Our results support the application of the umbrella species concept to monitoring (here defined as ‘umbrella monitoring species’), providing empirical evidence for its use by management agencies.
... Conservation science has long been plagued with a strong bias towards charismatic species, with non-charismatic yet ecologically important groups often overlooked in terms of research, policy and conservation (Donaldson et al., 2017). While the rationale is that charismatic species may serve as umbrella or flagship species for biodiversity conservation, this is not always the case (Zacharias and Roff, 2001;Wang et al., 2021). Extensive research and campaigns about the whale shark in India, combined with policy interventions, have led to the apparently successful conservation of this species (Bloch et al., 2019). ...
Article
With global biodiversity currently facing unprecedented losses, it is critical that resources are allocated and used effectively to mitigate these threats, especially in resource-limited tropical countries of the global south. Chondrichthyans (sharks, rays and chimaeras) are particularly threatened by overexploitation, with India being amongst the top fishing nations for these species and a priority region for their conservation. We conducted a scoping review of chondrichthyan literature in India to assess the relevance of this research to the conservation of these threatened species. Between March and April 2021, we searched for peer reviewed and grey literature across national and international databases and found 482 chondrichthyan publications. While the number of publications exponentially increased with time, the literature is dominated by short-term fisheries studies, biological records and observations, with less than 10% of studies addressing socio-economic and management themes. Research was biased towards specific states, particularly Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and towards charismatic species like the whale shark, leading to under-representation of potentially important regions and taxa. Overall, our study found low relevance and applicability of India's research literature to chondrichthyan conservation. There is a need for more directed and applied research explicitly aimed at informing conservation. We highlight specific data gaps, such as the need for improved understanding of the socio-economic aspects of chondrichthyan fisheries, species risk assessments at the regional level, data on critical habitats, and the evaluation of existing policies. Addressing these gaps can help ensure that effort is allocated to the regions, species and topics that need it the most, for improved conservation outcomes.
... Many reserves have only one flagship species, which provides protection to other species through its umbrella function, but studies have shown that the umbrella function of flagship species may not provide sufficient protection for other species (S. Li et al. 2020;Wang et al. 2021). Wolong Nature Reserve mainly focuses on the protection of giant pandas with little focus on the protection of snow leopards, leading to a relative lack of research on snow leopards and their alpine ecosystem. ...
Article
There is increasing conflict between snow leopards and humans in many protected areas, the main driver of which is the overlap in spatial utilization between snow leopards and livestock. Understanding the spatial utilization and microhabitat selection of snow leopards in areas featuring different levels of livestock grazing is important to better understand and resolve this conflict, but such studies are rare. Here, we conducted line transect and plot surveys in low- and high-grazing-disturbance areas (LGDAs and HGDAs) in Wolong National Reserve, southwestern China. We compared snow leopard spatial utilization and microhabitat characteristics between LGDAs and HGDAs. Results showed that snow leopards had aggregated distribution in both LGDAs and HGDAs, but the distribution of snow leopards in HGDAs was more centralized than in LGDAs. Herb cover and height in LGDAs were greater than in HGDAs. We fit a resource selection function (RSF) that showed that snow leopards preferentially selected higher elevation, smaller basal diameter of shrubs, and lower height of herbs in LGDAs. In contrast, there were no significant microhabitat factors in our snow leopard RSF in HGDAs. Our results indicate that high-intensity grazing tends to reduce the habitat types available to and preferential selectivity of habitat by snow leopards. We recommend that livestock grazing should be controlled to restore the diversity of the alpine ecosystems in Wolong Nature Reserve. Our findings also highlight the need for evaluating the impact of livestock grazing on rare animals in alpine environments (e.g., snow leopard) in other areas facing similar issues.
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Incorporating the carbon services of wild animals into financial markets has the potential to benefit both climate and conservation through the development of carbon offsets that are equitable and nature positive. However, for this paradigm to be successful, many challenges regarding science, finance and law still need to be overcome.
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Conservation approaches in tiger landscapes have focused on single species and their habitat. Further, the limited extent of the existing protected area network in India lacks representativeness, habitat connectivity, and integration in the larger landscape. Our objective was to identify sites important for connected tiger habitat and biodiversity potential in the Greater Panna Landscape, central India. Further, we aimed to set targets at the landscape level for conservation and prioritize these sites within each district in the landscape as specific management/conservation zones. We used earth observation data to derive an index of biodiversity potential. Marxan was used to identify sites that met tiger and biodiversity conservation targets with minimum costs. We found that to protect 50% of the tiger habitat with connectivity, 20% of the landscape area must be conserved. To conserve 100% of high biodiversity potential, 50% moderate biodiversity potential, and 25% low biodiversity potential, 55% of the landscape area must be conserved. To represent both tiger habitat and biodiversity, 62% of the total landscape area requires conservation or restoration intervention. The prioritized zones can prove significant for hierarchical decision making, involving multiple stakeholders in the landscape, including other tiger range areas.
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Camera traps are a key tool in ecological studies, and are increasingly being used to understand entire communities. However, robust inferences continue to be hampered by low detection of rare and elusive species. Attractants can be used to increase detection rates, but may also alter behaviour, and little research has evaluated short-term, localized response to the presence of attractants. We conducted three camera trap surveys in Kibale National Park, Uganda, using food baits and scent lures (“attractants”) at each camera station to entice small carnivores to pass in front of camera stations. To examine the interrelationship between scavenging and response to attractants, we also placed camera traps at five food refuse pits. We modelled the effect of attractant and duration of trap placement on the detection probability of small carnivores and selected African golden cat Caracal aurata prey items. We examine transient site response of each species, by comparing our observed likelihood of detection in each 24 h period from 1–7 d following refreshing of attractants to randomly generated capture histories. African civet Civettictis civetta, rusty-spotted genet Genetta maculata, African palm civet Nandinia binotata, and marsh mongoose Atilax paludinosus detection probabilities were highest and Weyns’s red duiker Cephalophus wenysi detection probability was lowest immediately after attractants were placed. Within 24 h after attractant was placed, rusty-spotted genet and African palm civet were more likely to be detected and African golden cat, red duiker, and blue duiker Philantomba monticola were less likely to be detected. Our results suggest that attractants can increase detection of small-bodied species and include some arboreal species in terrestrial camera trap sampling. However, attractants may also alter short-term visitation rates of some species, with potentially cascading effects on others. Community level and intraguild interaction studies should control for the potentially confounding effects of attractants on spatial activity patterns.
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The practical value of the single species approach to conserve biodiversity could be minimal or negligible when sympatric species are limited by factors that are not relevant to the proposed umbrella species. In this paper, we quantitatively evaluated: (1) habitat suitability and potential movement corridors of a single umbrella species, giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca); (2) habitat suitability of sympatric mammals; and (3) the potential effectiveness of the single species corridor planning to preserve suitable habitat and its connectivity of other focal species. We collected species distribution, environmental and anthropogenic data, and conducted species occupancy modelling for giant panda and six other sympatric species (i.e. takin Budorcas taxicolor, tufted deer Elaphodus cephalophus, Chinese goral Naemorhedus griseus, Reeve’s muntjac Muntiacus reevesi, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, and yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula). We then conducted circuit models to identify potential corridors for each species, and evaluated the effectiveness of giant panda corridors to restore the habitat connectivity for these sympatric mammals. Occupancy modelling revealed that each species had a unique set of environmental variables associated with its distribution in the Qinling Mountains. We found that giant panda and all other focal species had some degree of fragmentation to their suitable habitat that required restoring habitat connectivity. Among the eight potential giant panda corridors, conservation efforts to reduce anthropogenic impacts would significantly improve the effectiveness of six corridors, while the other two corridors would require altering the vegetation. Five proposed giant panda corridors had remarkable overlap with corridors proposed for other species. We suggest two giant panda corridors as a priority due to their potential to maximize the benefits to both giant panda and a broader suite of mammals. Corridor planning in this region of China will likely continue using the single species policy, but our results highlight that not all potential giant panda corridors have equal effectiveness for other wildlife species. When offered multiple alternative actions, conservation planners can prioritize corridor development based on a multi-species perspective without loss of connectivity for the priority species. This approach has strong implications to the conservation of wildlife communities in China, and elsewhere, where conservation plans developed for a single species garner most available funding and institutional support.
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The conservation status of the iconic giant panda is a barometer of global conservation efforts. The IUCN Red List has downgraded the panda's extinction risk from "endangered" to "vulnerable". Newly obtained, detailed GIS and remotely sensed data applied consistently over the last four decades show that panda habitat covered less area and was more fragmented in 2013 than in 1988 when the species was listed as endangered.Despite recent IUCN downgrading of the giant panda's conservation status from 'endangered' to 'vulnerable', new GIS and remote sensing data reveal panda habitats to cover less area and be more fragmented than previously.
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The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is no longer Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) storied Redlist. The decision to downlist the panda to Vulnerable has its foundation in a systematic assessment of population parameters as determined by China State Forestry Administration's circa decadal national survey and other scientific outputs, compared against standardized criteria used by IUCN to determine the status of all species. This decision has not been without controversy and disagreement, perhaps reflecting disparities between how people view the term “Endangered” and the criteria established by the IUCN. Here, we explore the architecture of recovery of this iconic “Endangered” species, make transparent the process of the IUCN downlisting decision, evaluate emerging threats to pandas on the horizon, and contemplate the meaning of this milestone for endangered species conservation. Through this revelation we find profound reasons for hope for species conservation everywhere, and a useful example of success in the making. However, this positive message comes with measured caution. The Chinese government and conservation community must maintain its focus and investment on panda conservation, and contend with strategies to address new threats. If they do not, the panda will return to “Endangered” status once again. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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The giant panda attracts disproportionate conservation resources. How well does this emphasis protect other endemic species? Detailed data on geographical ranges are not available for plants or invertebrates, so we restrict our analyses to three vertebrate taxa: birds, mammals, and amphibians. There are gaps in their protection and we recommend practical actions to fill them. We identified patterns of species richness, then identified which species are endemic to China and then which, like the panda, live in forests. After refining each species' range by its known elevational range and remaining forest habitats as determined from remote sensing, we identified the top 5% richest areas as the centers of endemism. Southern mountains, especially the eastern Hengduan Mountains, were centers for all three taxa. Over 96% of the panda habitat overlapped the endemic centers. Thus, investing in almost any panda habitats will benefit many other endemics. Existing panda national nature reserves cover all but one of the endemic species that overlap with the panda's distribution. For whole China, of particular interest are 14 mammal, 20 bird, and 82 amphibian species that are inadequately protected. Most of these the IUCN currently deems threatened. But 7 mammal, 3 bird, and 20 amphibian species are currently non-threatened, yet their geographical ranges are <20,000 km(2) after accounting for elevational restriction and remaining habitats. These species concentrate mainly in Sichuan, Yunnan, Nan Mountains and Hainan. There is a high concentration in the east Daxiang and Xiaoxiang Mountains of Sichuan where pandas are absent and where there are no national nature reserves. The others concentrate in Yunnan, Nan Mountains and Hainan. Here, 10 prefectures might establish new protected areas or upgrade local nature reserves to national status. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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The size of the home range is examined in mammals. It is determined, mainly, by the amount of energy expended by the species, and, therefore, the home range area may vary according to the direct and indirect influences of weather and climate on the animal. But the kind of food that is utilized will also influence home range size. Those species that must hunt for their food need larger areas for food gathering than those species that feed on the vegetation. As a result the largest hunters appear to have their food habits regulated by considerations of the efficient use of the food materials in their home range. Finally, the home range size affects population density, which in turn influences the behavior in the population.
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Human-wildlife conflicts often spur retaliatory killing, which may be a major threat to some wildlife species. Asiatic black bears depredate crops and livestock and also attack humans. We investigated whether human–bear conflicts in Sichuan Province, southwestern China, resulted in increased bear poaching. We conducted semi-structured interviews within 429 15 × 15-km cells across the province, asking villagers about bear occurrence, population trends, attitudes toward bears, human–bear conflicts, responses to bear damage, and bear poaching. Bears raided crops (n = 174 cells), killed livestock (n = 114 cells), and attacked people (n = 49 cells). Fifty percent and 43% of villagers held negative and neutral attitudes toward bears, respectively; attitudes were more negative among people who had previous interactions with bears or lived where bear encounters were more likely. Although killing bears was illegal, villagers in 117 cells (38%) indicated that bear poaching occurred around their villages. However, killing bears was not significantly linked to damage: indeed, killing was more common in areas without human–bear conflicts. Poachers killed bears mainly for trade of their valuable parts (gall bladder and paws, 78.5%). Tibetan people experienced bear damage and also had negative attitudes toward bears, but reported less poaching than Han or Yi people, due to their religious beliefs. Our study indicated that human-wildlife conflicts shaped people’s attitudes toward bears, but strong economic incentives, not attitudes, prompted illegal killing. Whereas mitigation of human–bear conflicts could help foster more positive attitudes toward bears and the nature reserves that protect bears, this strategy will not remove the primary threat against this species.
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Behavioural ecologists often study complex systems in which multiple hypotheses could be proposed to explain observed phenomena. For some systems, simple controlled experiments can be employed to reveal part of the complexity; often, however, observational studies that incorporate a multitude of causal factors may be the only (or preferred) avenue of study. We assess the value of recently advocated approaches to inference in both contexts. Specifically, we examine the use of information theoretic (IT) model selection using Akaike’s information criterion (AIC). We find that, for simple analyses, the advantages of switching to an IT-AIC approach are likely to be slight, especially given recent emphasis on biological rather than statistical significance. By contrast, the model selection approach embodied by IT approaches offers significant advantages when applied to problems of more complex causality. Model averaging is an intuitively appealing extension to model selection. However, we were unable to demonstrate consistent improvements in prediction accuracy when using model averaging with IT-AIC; our equivocal results suggest that more research is needed on its utility. We illustrate our arguments with worked examples from behavioural experiments. KeywordsEffect size–Inference–Model weighting–Null hypotheses–Process-based models–Statistics
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Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are an iconic conservation species, but despite significant research effort, do we understand what they really need? Estimating and mapping suitable habitat play a critical role in conservation planning and policy. But if assumptions about ecological needs are wrong, maps with misidentified suitable habitat will misguide conservation action. Here, we use an information-theoretic approach to analyse the largest, landscape-level dataset on panda habitat use to date, and challenge the prevailing wisdom about panda habitat needs. We show that pandas are associated with old-growth forest more than with any ecological variable other than bamboo. Other factors traditionally used in panda habitat models, such as topographic slope, are less important. We suggest that our findings are disparate from previous research in part because our research was conducted over a larger ecological scale than previous research conducted over more circumscribed areas within individual reserves. Thus, extrapolating from habitat studies on small scales to conservation planning on large scales may entail some risk. As the Chinese government is considering the renewal of its logging ban, it should take heed of the panda's dependency on old growth.
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Model selection is a topic of special relevance in molecular phylogenetics that affects many, if not all, stages of phylogenetic inference. Here we discuss some fundamental concepts and techniques of model selection in the context of phylogenetics. We start by reviewing different aspects of the selection of substitution models in phylogenetics from a theoretical, philosophical and practical point of view, and summarize this comparison in table format. We argue that the most commonly implemented model selection approach, the hierarchical likelihood ratio test, is not the optimal strategy for model selection in phylogenetics, and that approaches like the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and Bayesian methods offer important advantages. In particular, the latter two methods are able to simultaneously compare multiple nested or nonnested models, assess model selection uncertainty, and allow for the estimation of phylogenies and model parameters using all available models (model-averaged inference or multimodel inference). We also describe how the relative importance of the different parameters included in substitution models can be depicted. To illustrate some of these points, we have applied AIC-based model averaging to 37 mitochondrial DNA sequences from the subgenus Ohomopterus (genus Carabus) ground beetles described by Sota and Vogler (2001).
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Occupancy Estimation and Modeling: Inferring Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence, Second Edition, provides a synthesis of model-based approaches for analyzing presence-absence data, allowing for imperfect detection. Beginning from the relatively simple case of estimating the proportion of area or sampling units occupied at the time of surveying, the authors describe a wide variety of extensions that have been developed since the early 2000s. This provides an improved insight about species and community ecology, including, detection heterogeneity; correlated detections; spatial autocorrelation; multiple states or classes of occupancy; changes in occupancy over time; species co-occurrence; community-level modeling, and more. Occupancy Estimation and Modeling: Inferring Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence, Second Edition has been greatly expanded and detail is provided regarding the estimation methods and examples of their application are given. Important study design recommendations are also covered to give a well rounded view of modeling.
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China has implemented forest policies and expanded protected areas to halt deforestation and protect giant panda habitats. These policies simultaneously encouraged local communities to raise livestock that then freely range in forests. This grazing had unintended consequences. As an alternative livelihood, it has become the most prevalent human disturbance across the panda's range. How do free-ranging livestock impact giant panda habitats and what are the implications for future conservation and policy on a larger scale? We use Wanglang National Nature Reserve as a case study. It has seen a nine-fold livestock increase during past 15 years. We combined bamboo survey plots, GPS collar tracking, long-term monitoring, and species distribution modelling incorporating species interaction to understand the impacts across spatial and temporal scales. Our results showed that livestock, especially horses, lead to a significant reduction of bamboo biomass and regeneration. The most intensively used areas by livestock are in the valleys, which are also the areas that pandas prefer. Adding livestock presence to predictive models of the giant panda's distribution yielded a higher accuracy and suggested livestock reduce panda habitat by 34%. Pandas were driven out of the areas intensively used by livestock. We recommend the nature reserve carefully implement a livestock ban and prioritise removing horses because they cause the greater harm. To give up livestock, local communities prefer long-term subsidies or jobs to a one-time payment. Thus, we recommend the government provide payments for ecosystem services that create jobs in forest stewardship or tourism while reducing the number of domestic animals.
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Primary forests are characterized by high vertical and horizontal stand diversity, which provides habitat for a diverse range of species with complex habitat requirements. Detailed knowledge of related ecological processes and habitat development of primary forest species are essential to inform forest management and biodiversity conservation decisions, but relationships are not well documented. We collected dendrochronological data and inventoried numerous structural elements in permanent plots throughout the primary temperate forests within the Carpathian Mountains. We fit and compared multiple predictive models to quantify the importance of 200 years of natural disturbance dynamics on the occurrence probability of an umbrella species – the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). We showed that a mixed-severity disturbance regime ranging from low through moderate to high severity disturbances is required to generate diverse forest habitats suitable for capercaillie. The variation in natural disturbance severity and its timing promoted key structural habitat elements, such as low natural regeneration density, low mature tree density, high ground vegetation cover, availability of forest gaps, and abundance of standing deadwood. This study demonstrates the importance of natural disturbance in maintaining the variety of conditions necessary to support primary forest specialist species. Managers of protected areas should be mindful that natural disturbances generate habitat for the capercaillie in mountain Norway spruce forests. Further intervention is unnecessary. Conservation planning and forest reserve design should shift focus to the large-scale spatial requirements needed to ensure that a wide range of forest developmental phases are represented in protected areas.
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Livestock are a major human-induced threat to wildlife worldwide, especially in forest landscapes where livestock degrade the food and habitat of forest-dwelling wildlife. However, few empirical studies on this topic have been conducted at fine spatiotemporal scales that are crucial for wildlife-livestock interactions, in particular those involving multiple sympatric wildlife species under policy changes. Here, we demonstrate wildlife-livestock interactions through examining the interactions of several sympatric, threatened wildlife species with livestock in Wolong Nature Reserve, China, using data collected from infrared camera traps, DNA analysis of panda fecal samples and panda distribution predictive modeling along with habitat predictors. Camera trapping revealed an increase in livestock after the government implemented an incentive policy to encourage livestock production midway through the study. Three species (giant panda, red panda, and golden snub-nosed monkey) were displaced as more livestock encroached on forest habitat. In contrast, the detection rate of sambar deer was not affected by livestock encroachment, but sambar shifted the timing of visiting water sources (streams) to dusk (when livestock disturbance and other human activities were lower). The number of giant pandas detected via DNA testing of feces was relatively stable, but panda distribution modeling showed that pandas occurred across a wider area after disturbance. Our research shows that with increased livestock, different wildlife species may respond in different ways, which is likely associated with their biological traits (e.g., life history strategy and diet). Our study underscores the need for careful livestock policy making and planning.
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In response to ecosystem degradation from rapid economic development, China began investing heavily in protecting and restoring natural capital starting in 2000. We report on China’s first national ecosystem assessment (2000–2010), designed to quantify and help manage change in ecosystem services, including food production, carbon sequestration, soil retention, sandstorm prevention, water retention, flood mitigation, and provision of habitat for biodiversity. Overall, ecosystem services improved from 2000 to 2010, apart from habitat provision. China’s national conservation policies contributed significantly to the increases in those ecosystem services.
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We studied habitat selection of Reeves's muntjacs (Muntiacus reevesi) and wild boars (Sus scrofa) in Qingliangfeng Nature Reserve in northwestern Zhejiang, China. Habitat characteristics were measured on the basis of expected differences between species at 248 sites from 5 November 2005 to 21 January 2006. Habitat selection showed a certain extent of overlap, muntjacs and wild boars both selected habitats with shrub vegetation, low herbage density, gentle slopes, relatively close to residences, and moderate concealment. Differences in habitat selection were that muntjacs selected habitats with moderate tree density, greater shrub density and moderate canopy, whereas wild boars selected habitats with lower tree density. Muntjacs selected north-facing slopes and habitats distant from water-sources, whereas wild boars displayed no selection with regard to slope or distance from water sources. We suggest that the two species coexist in Qingliangfeng as a result of differential habitat selection associated with their species-specific anti-predator strategies. Muntjacs avoid predators by concealment whereas wild boars evade predators by running as their escape strategy.
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In binary classification problems, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) is commonly used to evaluate the performance of a prediction model. Often, it is combined with cross-validation in order to assess how the results will generalize to an independent data set. In order to evaluate the quality of an estimate for cross-validated AUC, we obtain an estimate of its variance. For massive data sets, the process of generating a single performance estimate can be computationally expensive. Additionally, when using a complex prediction method, the process of cross-validating a predictive model on even a relatively small data set can still require a large amount of computation time. Thus, in many practical settings, the bootstrap is a computationally intractable approach to variance estimation. As an alternative to the bootstrap, we demonstrate a computationally efficient influence curve based approach to obtaining a variance estimate for cross-validated AUC.
Article
Population estimation is important in conservation biology. Conservation projects are generally implemented on the basis of population estimation of objective animals. The Chinese forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii) is an endangered mammal that dwells in the alpine forests. At present, it only exists in fragmented habitats in southwest China. There are currently no population estimates of the wild population of Chinese forest musk deer; therefore, we used distance sampling method and strip transect method to determine the relative population density quantified by the indices of abundance of this species. The results showed that the indices of abundance of the Chinese forest musk deer was 0.16 - 0.24 individuals/km(2) evaluated by using the distance method; and 0.11 +/- 0.21 individuals/k(2) evaluated by using the strip transect method. Our results suggested the indices of abundance varies according to the geographical variation, which may attribute to the economic imbalance between eastern part and western in China. In addition, many human disturbances were present in the habitat of Chinese forest musk deer. Extensive poaching was currently being practiced, as revealed by our field observation of 0.14 snares/km(2). In addition, the population trend in Mayuhe and Yele seemed to be decreasing. Consequently, we can postulate that the Chinese forest musk deer had a small population density, and this finding could be attributed to the markedly high human disturbances, particularly poaching, in the habitat of forest musk deer.
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The Ward error sum of squares hierarchical clustering method has been very widely used since its first description by Ward in a 1963 publication. It has also been generalized in various ways. Two algorithms are found in the literature and software, both announcing that they implement the Ward clustering method. When applied to the same distance matrix, they produce different results. One algorithm preserves Ward’s criterion, the other does not. Our survey work and case studies will be useful for all those involved in developing software for data analysis using Ward’s hierarchical clustering method.
Article
Conservation biology and restoration ecology share a common interest in maintaining or enhancing populations, communities, and ecosystems. Much could be gained by more closely integrating the disciplines, but several challenges stand in the way. Goals differ, reflecting different origins and agendas. Because resources are insufficient to meet all needs, priorities must be established. Rapid environmental changes create uncertainties that compromise goals and priorities. To realize the benefits of integration, goals should be complementary, acknowledging the uncertainties that stem from temporal and spatial dynamics. Priorities should be established using clearly defined criteria, recognizing that not everything can be conserved or restored; some form of triage is inevitable. Because goals and priorities are societal concerns, conservation and restoration must include people as part of—rather than separate from—nature. A more meaningful and integrated approach will blur disciplinary boundaries, focus on outcomes rather than approaches, and use the tools of both disciplines.
Article
AimRange shifts associated with 20th-century warming have been documented for a wide range of taxa, but many species are not migrating fast enough to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate. Tree species can experience particularly long time lags in their migration response, resulting in altered forest composition and potentially delaying the migration of other obligate species. Here we review potential causes of these time lags and develop a conceptual framework for understanding how migration timing affects the observed rate of change.LocationGlobal forest ecosystems.Methods We synthesize evidence from present-day tree species migrations to determine how different migration constraints can delay tree species range shifts.ResultsThe rate of present-day tree migrations is frequently slower than expected, and many factors may contribute to observed migration lags. Migration constraints can be overcome given the right combination of circumstances, resulting in episodic range shifts that create temporal variability in migration rates. Given projected increases in forest disturbances and extreme climatic events, episodic range shifts are likely.Main conclusionsRecent efforts to explain the slow rate of tree migration have primarily focused on dispersal limitation and niche-based constraints such as competition and other biotic interactions. We argue that these constraints cannot be fully understood without considering the temporal context of tree migration. Attempts to forecast and manage future distribution shifts must consequently consider how migration timing may affect observed patterns of change.
Article
Many nature reserves are established to protect the habitat needs of particular endangered species of interest but their effectiveness for protecting other species is questionable. In this study, this effectiveness was evaluated in a nature reserve network located in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province, China. The network of reserves was established mainly for the conservation of the giant panda, a species considered as a surrogate for the conservation of many other endangered species in the region. The habitat suitability of nine protected species, including the giant panda, was modeled by using Maximum Entropy (MAXENT) and their spatial congruence was analyzed. Habitat suitability of these species was also overlapped with nature reserve boundaries and their management zones (i.e., core, buffer and experimental zones). Results show that in general the habitat of the giant panda constitutes a reasonable surrogate of the habitat of other protected species, and giant panda reserves protect a relatively high proportion of the habitat of other protected species. Therefore, giant panda habitat conservation also allows the conservation of the habitat of other protected species in the region. However, a large area of suitable habitat was excluded from the nature reserve network. In addition, four species exhibited a low proportion of highly suitable habitat inside the core zones of nature reserves. It suggests that a high proportion of suitable habitat of protected species not targeted for conservation is located in the experimental and buffer zones, thus, is being affected by human activities. To increase their conservation effectiveness, nature reserves and their management zones need to be re-examined in order to include suitable habitat of more endangered species. The procedures described in this study can be easily implemented for the conservation of many endangered species not only in China but in many other parts of the world.
Article
In the present study, formalin-fixed feces, oligonucleotide fingerprinting and SRY-gene based sexing were used to construct a family net for giant pandas in the Tangjiahe Natural Reserve and to assess contemporary gene flow (migration) in this population. A total of 124 fecal samples were attributed to 37 individuals (22 females and 15 males) that were then analyzed for family relationships. Based on DNA fingerprints, the deduced family net revealed the following facts: (i) First-order relatives possessed similarities from 50% to 90%, and similarities between unrelated individuals or distant relatives were as high as 77%, indicating that the Tangjiahe pandas are characterized by high genetic similarity; (ii) 15 matings were identified and 5 ones occurred between close relatives, implying that there is potential for inbreeding to impact the pandas; (iii) four mating pairs and 5 offspring presented long distance migrations, demonstrating the intra-reserve habitat is continuous; (iv) four pairs of full sibs (also female-male dyads) dispersed short distance and all of them gave birth to highly inbred offspring, reflecting long distance migration is vital for inbreeding avoidance; (v) 17 adult individuals dispersed short or moderate distance and formed three clusters on the landscape, indicating that it is necessary to find out whether there is a negative factor impacting the pandas.
Article
The empirical habitat suitability index (HSI) has been widely used to examine the habitat characteristics of terrestrial animals, though rarely used in highly migratory fish such as tuna. This study used the geographic information system technique to establish empirical models of HSI for yellowfin tuna (YFT) in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). Daily catch data from the Taiwanese purse seine fishery during 2003–2007 were aggregated monthly into sequential degrees before match processing the conducted data to obtain monthly remote-sensing data for multi-environmental factors, including sea surface temperature (SST), chlorophyll-a (chl-a), sea surface height (SSH) and sea surface salinity (SSS). According to the frequency distribution of each factor on which YFT were caught, this study transformed the values of the four factors into a suitability index (SI) ranging from low to high (0–1). These SI values were consequently combined into different empirical HSI models, and the optimum models were selected using the general linear model. The optimum empirical HSI for YFT in the study area was converted for SI (SST, SSH, chl-a and SSS) using the arithmetic mean model, of which the correct prediction rate was 71.9%. An agreement was present between the average HSI and total YFT catch. Furthermore, the high HSI area corresponds with the displacement of catch per unit effort (CPUE).
Article
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca (David, 1869)), red panda (Ailurus fulgens F.G. Cuvier, 1825), and tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus Milne-Edwards, 1872) are endemic to the Himalayan Hengduan Mountains; the red panda extends into India, Burma, Bhutan, and Nepal, and the tufted deer extends marginally into Burma, while the giant panda is endemic to China. In Sichuan Province, uniquely, all three species occur sympatrically. We investigated microhabitat characteristics at 150 fecal-group sites from November 2002 to March 2003 to improve understanding of microhabitat separation among the three species at the Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve, Baoxing County, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Density and height of bamboo were greater in the giant and red pandas' micro habitats than in those of the tufted deer. The red panda preferred microhabitats with greater tree-stump density, smaller trees, and shorter fallen log dispersion distance than the other two species. Tufted deer often occurred at sites with greater shrub density and herb cover and more open land with poorer concealment conditions than sites where the two panda species occurred. Both pandas' microhabitats were mostly concentrated on the upper hillside, unlike those of the tufted deer. The giant panda preferred microhabitats with a gentler slope and lower density of fallen logs. Selection of specific microhabitats by each species is an ecological adaptation dependent on behavior linked to its diet, body size, energy metabolism, and other factors. Microhabitat separation among these species reflects the integrated effects of their differences in diet, body size, and energy metabolism, which could facilitate their successful coexistence.
Chapter
Many coefficients exist that give measures of resemblance between a pair of cases, or samples, as opposed to association between pairs of variables; others measure resemblance between a pair of populations. Some are based on quantitative variables, some on categorical variables that may be dichotomous or ordered, and others on a mixture of both types. Keywords: similarity coefficients; dissimilarity coefficients; distance measures; resemblance
Article
Abstract: The range-wide habitat status of many endangered species is unclear. We evaluated the status and spatial distribution of the habitat of the endangered giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) across its entire geo-graphic range (i.e., six mountain regions located in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, China) by inte-grating field and remotely sensed data to develop a habitat distribution model. Results suggest that current suitable habitat corresponds to ca. 1/4 of the habitat baseline (i.e., maximum amount of habitat possible). The highest proportion of suitable habitat relative to the baseline is in the Qinling mountain region. Overall, around 40% of the suitable habitat is inside nature reserves, but the proportion of habitat inside them varied among different mountain regions, ranging from ca. 17% (Lesser Xiangling) to ca. 66% (Qinling). The habitat model also predicted the occurrence of potentially suitable habitat outside the cur-rently accepted geographic range of the species, which should be further evaluated as potential panda reintroduction sites. Our approach is valuable for assessing the conservation status of the entire habitat of the species, for identifying areas with significant ecological roles (e.g., corridors), for identifying areas suitable for panda reintroductions, and for establishing specific conservation strategies in different parts of the giant panda geographic range. It might also prove useful for range-wide habitat analyses of many other endangered species around the world.
Article
Summary 1. In recent years the use of species distribution models by ecologists and conservation managers has increased considerably, along with an awareness of the need to provide accuracy assessment for predictions of such models. The kappa statistic is the most widely used measure for the performance of models generating presence-absence predictions, but several studies have criticized it for being inherently dependent on prevalence, and argued that this dependency introduces statistical artefacts to estimates of predictive accuracy. This criticism has been supported recently by computer simulations showing that kappa responds to the prevalence of the modelled species in a unimodal fashion. 2. In this paper we provide a theoretical explanation for the observed dependence of kappa on prevalence, and introduce into ecology an alternative measure of accuracy, the true skill statistic (TSS), which corrects for this dependence while still keeping all the advantages of kappa. We also compare the responses of kappa and TSS to prevalence using empirical data, by modelling distribution patterns of 128 species of woody plant in Israel. 3. The theoretical analysis shows that kappa responds in a unimodal fashion to vari- ation in prevalence and that the level of prevalence that maximizes kappa depends on the ratio between sensitivity (the proportion of correctly predicted presences) and specificity (the proportion of correctly predicted absences). In contrast, TSS is inde- pendent of prevalence. 4. When the two measures of accuracy were compared using empirical data, kappa showed a unimodal response to prevalence, in agreement with the theoretical analysis. TSS showed a decreasing linear response to prevalence, a result we interpret as reflecting true ecological phenomena rather than a statistical artefact. This interpretation is supported by the fact that a similar pattern was found for the area under the ROC curve, a measure known to be independent of prevalence. 5. Synthesis and applications . Our results provide theoretical and empirical evidence that kappa, one of the most widely used measures of model performance in ecology, has serious limitations that make it unsuitable for such applications. The alternative we suggest, TSS, compensates for the shortcomings of kappa while keeping all of its advantages. We therefore recommend the TSS as a simple and intuitive measure for the performance of species distribution models when predictions are expressed as presence- absence maps.
Article
1.The use of surrogate species (i.e. keystones, indicators, umbrellas) has been advocated for the conservation of target taxa and communities.2.A recent Habitat Conservation Plan, which provided conservation measures intended to protect multiple aquatic species of concern over a large area, established an important precedent for surrogate species in aquatic conservation pursuant to the US Endangered Species Act.3.The Habitat Conservation Plan's application of federally threatened bull trout was evaluated as an umbrella species for westslope cutthroat trout, which is in decline but not listed under the Act. Approximately 75% of known westslope cutthroat trout strongholds are not captured within bull trout strongholds west of the continental divide. The Habitat Conservation Plan failed to evaluate the suitability of this umbrella species and consequently failed to cover important priority areas for westslope cutthroat trout conservation.4.This case study highlights the feasibility and importance of formally validating assumptions of surrogate species utility in multi-species conservation planning. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Three different least-squares methods for processing time-series of satellite sensor data are presented. The first method uses local polynomial functions and can be classified as an adaptive Savitzky–Golay filter. The other two methods are more clear cut least-squares methods, where data are fit to a basis of harmonic functions and asymmetric Gaussian functions, respectively. The methods incorporate qualitative information on cloud contamination from ancillary datasets. The resulting smooth curves are used for extracting seasonal parameters related to the growing seasons. The methods are implemented in a computer program, TIMESAT, and applied to NASA/NOAA Pathfinder AVHRR Land Normalized Difference Vegetation Index data over Africa, giving spatially coherent images of seasonal parameters such as beginnings and ends of growing seasons, seasonally integrated NDVI and seasonal amplitudes. Based on general principles, the TIMESAT program can be used also for other types of satellite-derived time-series data.
Article
Understory vegetation is an important component in forest ecosystems not only because of its contributions to forest structure, function and species composition, but also due to its essential role in supporting wildlife species and ecosystem services. Therefore, understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of understory vegetation is essential for management and conservation. Nevertheless, detailed information on the distribution of understory vegetation across large spatial extents is usually unavailable, due to the interference of overstory canopy on the remote detection of understory vegetation. While many efforts have been made to overcome this challenge, mapping understory vegetation across large spatial extents is still limited due to a lack of generality of the developed methods and limited availability of required remotely sensed data. In this study, we used understory bamboo in Wolong Nature Reserve, China as a case study to develop and test an effective and practical remote sensing approach for mapping understory vegetation. Using phenology metrics generated from a time series of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer data, we characterized the phenological features of forests with understory bamboo. Using maximum entropy modeling together with these phenology metrics, we successfully mapped the spatial distribution of understory bamboo (kappa: 0.59; AUC: 0.85). In addition, by incorporating elevation information we further mapped the distribution of two individual bamboo species, Bashania faberi and Fargesia robusta (kappa: 0.68 and 0.70; AUC: 0.91 and 0.92, respectively). Due to its generality, flexibility and extensibility, this approach constitutes an improvement to the remote detection of understory vegetation, making it suitable for mapping different understory species in different geographic settings. Both biodiversity conservation and wildlife habitat management may benefit from the detailed information on understory vegetation across large areas through the applications of this approach.
Article
The vast scope of conservation problems has forced biologists and managers to rely on "surrogate" species to serve as shortcuts to guide their decision making. These species-known by a host of different terms, including indicator, umbrella, and flagship species-act as proxies to represent larger conservation issues, such as the location of biodiversity hotspots or general ecosystem health. Synthesizing an immense body of literature, conservation biologist and field researcher Tim Caro offers systematic definitions of surrogate species concepts, explores biological theories that underlie them, considers how surrogate species are chosen, critically examines evidence for and against their utility, and makes recommendations for their continued use. The book clarifies terminology and contrasts how different terms are used in the real worldconsiders the ecological, taxonomic, and political underpinnings of these shortcutsidentifies criteria that make for good surrogate speciesoutlines the circumstances where the application of the surrogate species concept shows promise Conservation by Proxy is a benchmark reference that provides clear definitions and common understanding of the evidence and theory behind surrogate species. It is the first book to review and bring together literature on more than fifteen types of surrogate species, enabling us to assess their role in conservation and offering guidelines on how they can be used most effectively.
Article
Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
Article
The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is widely used for monitoring, analyzing, and mapping temporal and spatial distributions of physiological and biophysical characteristics of vegetation. It is well documented that the NDVI approaches saturation asymptotically under conditions of moderate-to-high aboveground biomass. While reflectance in the red region (rho(red)) exhibits a nearly flat response once the leaf area index (LAI) exceeds 2, the near infrared (NIR) reflectance (PNIR) continue to respond significantly to changes in moderate-to-high vegetation density (LAI from 2 to 6) in crops. However, this higher sensitivity of the rho(NIR) has little effect on NDVI values once the rho(NIR) exceeds 30%. In this paper a simple modification of the NDVI was proposed. The Wide Dynamic Range Vegetation Index, WDRVI = (a * rho(NIR-rho(red))/(a * rho(NIR) + rho(red)), where the weighting coefficient a has a value of 0.1-0.2, increases correlation with vegetation fraction by linearizing the relationship for typical wheat, soybean, and maize canopies. The sensitivity of the WDRVI to moderate-to-high LAI (between 2 and 6) was at least three times greater than that of the NDVI. By enhancing the dynamic range while using the same bands as the NDVI, the WDRVI enables a more robust characterization of crop physiological and phenological characteristics. Although this index needs further evaluation, the linear relationship with vegetation fraction and much higher sensitivity to change in LAI will be especially valuable for precision agriculture and monitoring vegetation status under conditions of moderate-to-high density. It is anticipated that the new index will complement the NDVI and other vegetation indices that are based on the red and NIR spectral bands.
Validation team: ASTER global DEM validation-summary report. METI NASA 28
  • G Aster
Aster, G., 2009. Validation team: ASTER global DEM validation-summary report. METI NASA 28.