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Impacts of Seasonal Variation on Habitat Selection by Sichuan Golden Snub-nosed Monkey: A Case Study of Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve.

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The habitat selection for a group of R. roxellana at Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve during two seasons of 2010 was analysed with direct observation and vegetation survey. Eleven ecological variables were measured in seventy-five sites using 20 m 20 m plots. The research aims to document the impacts of seasonal variation in R. roxellana habitat selection. R. roxellana selected the deciduous broadleaf forest andmixed conifer-broadleaf forest for both seasons and have extended the altitude range between less than 2000m and beyond 2500 m during the winter, and they restrict it to 2000~2500mfor the summer season. R. roxellana have selected as winter habitat trees with DBH of 11~30 cm with a height of 10~29 m, canopy coverage of 25~49%, with a water distance of 0~300 m. However, during summer R. roxellana preferred canopy coverage of 25 to 74%. Thewater sourcewas at <100mand trees withDBHof 0 ~ 10 cm, 11~ 20 cm, and height of 10 ~ 19m. The seasonal availability of food resourceswas the mainfactor influencing the habitat selection behavior of R. roxellana
Location of the Tangjiahe, national nature reserves in Qingchuan County, Sichuan Province, China worldwide (Mittermeier et al 1998). The highest elevation is around 3864 m, the lowest elevation is about 1100 m, and the relative elevation difference is estimated to be 2764 m (Hu Jinchu 2005). The study area belongs to the humid subtropical climate, with noticeable vertical changes; and four seasons with abundant rainfall. The average annual temperature is 13.7ºC, the annual average sunshine hours is 1303 hours, the annual rainfall is 1100~1200 mm and the relative humidity is 78% (Hu Jinchu 2005). The vertical spectrum order of vegetation has mountainous evergreen broad-leaved forest belts, evergreen, mixed deciduous forest, coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest; the subalpine coniferous forest includes 267 families, 969 genera, and 422 species of plants (Hu Jinchu 2005). It provides a high-quality living environment for rare wild animals such as giant pandas, golden monkeys, takins and has bred the rich life of Tangjiahe Diversity (Hu Jinchu 2005). Data collection: The first survey was conducted during the winter season from January 2010 to the beginning of March 2010, and the second survey was during the summer season starting from Jun 2010 until the end of August 2010. Based on monkey group observations, recorded daily activities, and used a GPS device to record their location. During the research phase, a total of seventy-five sites where a group of monkey's activities was recorded in order to document the impact of seasonal variation on a group of the Golden Snub-
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INDIAN
JOURNAL OF
Volume 48 Issue-6 Dccember 2021
THE INDIAN ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY
Indian Journal of Ecology (2021) 48(6): 1726-1731 Manuscript Number: 3439
NAAS Rating: 5.79
Impacts of Seasonal Variation on Habitat Selection by Sichuan
Golden Snub-nosed Monkey: A Case Study of Tangjiahe
National Nature Reserve
Majda Aouititen, Aravinda Ravibhanu1, Wancai Xia, Dayong Li2 and Xiaofeng Luan
Beijing Forestry University, School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing 100083, China
1Department of Research & Innovation Eco Astronomy Inc, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2Institute of Rare Animals and Plants Chinese, West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan 637009, China
E-mail: majda_578@yahoo.fr
Abstract: The habitat selection for a group of R. roxellana at Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve during two seasons of 2010 was analysed
with direct observation and vegetation survey. Eleven ecological variables were measured in seventy-five sites using 20 m 20 m plots. The
research aims to document the impacts of seasonal variation in R. roxellana habitat selection. R. roxellana selected the deciduous broadleaf
forest and mixed conifer-broadleaf forest for both seasons and have extended the altitude range between less than 2000 m and beyond 2500
m during the winter, and they restrict it to 2000~2500 m for the summer season. R. roxellana have selected as winter habitat trees with DBH of
11~30 cm with a height of 10~29 m, canopy coverage of 25~49%, with a water distance of 0~300 m. However, during summer R. roxellana
preferred canopy coverage of 25 to 74%. The water source was at <100 m and trees with DBH of 0 ~ 10 cm, 11 ~ 20 cm, and height of 10 ~ 19 m.
The seasonal availability of food resources was the main factor influencing the habitat selection behavior of R. roxellana.
Keywords: Climate change, Endangered species, Rhinopithecus roxellana, Primate
Golden snub-nosed monkeys are found only
in mountainous, temperate forests in China (Milton et al species home ranges. However, more studies conducted
about behavioral ecology are needed (Zhou et al 2007).
2005). Previous studies describe R. roxellana as an These are the reasons that lead us to undertake a study on
endangered species with three geographically isolated
populations of monkey found in Qinling, Sichuan-Gansu,
and Shennongjia (Dayong et al 2006). These primates have
a preferred elevation range between 1,500m and 4,100 m,
known for their strong seasonality and cold, snowy winters
(Kirkpatrick 2001, Li et al 2008). The average annual
temperature of R. roxellana's habitat rage selection starts
from 6 with a minimum of -8oC in January and a maximum
of 22oC in July (Zhang et al 2016). The home range size of
the R. roxellana group usually exhibits seasonal variance
due to changes in food availability throughout the year
(Zhou et al 2007, Zhang et al 2011, Albert et al 2013). The
stability of trees, unit cohesion, and the monitoring potential
this issue. Previous studies have shown that environmental
variables will affect the structure and composition of local
plant communities, contributing to primates' ecological
resources and conditions (Dunn et al 2008, Amare and
Bhardwaj 2016, Srinivas and Krishnamurthy 2016,
Simimole and Joice 2016). That will lead to a bifurcation of
survival strategies; some primates may choose a wide
strategy as they develop large home ranges traveling
across large swaths of land searching for food (Milton et al
2005, Boubli et al 2008, Mourthé 2014). The other primates
with a tall strategy live on smaller home ranges, restricting
their ranges to areas of higher quality habitats to find their
preferred foods (Nagy et al 1979, Strier 1992, Mourthé
were essential criteria for R. roxellana's selection of 2014). This paper aims to study the effects of the seasonal
preferred habitat (Dayong et al 2006). In concordance with
research on other primates have shown that their home-
range selection is impacted by specific ecological and
behavioral factors, which may change from one season to
another. These may include factors such as food availability
(Zhang et al 2006, Zhou et al 2007), water source distance
(Scholz et al 2004) and intergroup relationships (Benadi et
al 2008). These factors as well have been affected by
climate change. For establishing an adequate protection
plan for monkeys' habitat, it is necessary to understand the
variation on R. roxellana's habitat selection for both, Winter
and Summer seasons.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Study area: The study was conducted in winter and summer
seasons at Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve, located in the
northwest corner of Qingchuan County on the Sichuan
Basin's northern edge, East longitude 104º 36'~104º 52'
North latitude 32º 30'~32º 41' (Fig. 1); a total area of 1359.12
km2 which is known as one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots
Effects of Seasonal Variation on the Behavior Ecology of the Sichuan Golden Snub Nosed Monkey
1727
Fig. 1. Location of the Tangjiahe, national nature reserves in
Qingchuan County, Sichuan Province, China
worldwide (Mittermeier et al 1998). The highest elevation is
around 3864 m, the lowest elevation is about 1100 m, and the
relative elevation difference is estimated to be 2764 m (Hu
Jinchu 2005). The study area belongs to the humid
subtropical climate, with noticeable vertical changes; and
four seasons with abundant rainfall. The average annual
temperature is 13.7ºC, the annual average sunshine hours is
1303 hours, the annual rainfall is 1100~1200 mm and the
relative humidity is 78% (Hu Jinchu 2005). The vertical
spectrum order of vegetation has mountainous evergreen
broad-leaved forest belts, evergreen, mixed deciduous
forest, coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest; the
subalpine coniferous forest includes 267 families, 969
genera, and 422 species of plants (Hu Jinchu 2005). It
provides a high-quality living environment for rare wild
animals such as giant pandas, golden monkeys, takins and
has bred the rich life of Tangjiahe Diversity (Hu Jinchu 2005).
Data collection: The first survey was conducted during the
winter season from January 2010 to the beginning of March
2010, and the second survey was during the summer season
starting from Jun 2010 until the end of August 2010. Based on
monkey group observations, recorded daily activities, and
used a GPS device to record their location. During the
research phase, a total of seventy-five sites where a group of
monkey's activities was recorded in order to document the
impact of seasonal variation on a group of the Golden Snub-
Nosed Monkeys selection habitat. Stratified random
sampling was conducted (Mueller-Dombois and Ellenberg,
1974) and eleven ecological variables were measured in
around seventy-five sites using 20 m 20 m plots, where our
group of monkeys was frequently observed. These variables
included the type of habitat vegetation, DBH (diameters of
breast height of trees), canopy cover, tree height, elevation,
slope degree, slope aspect, slope type, and distance to the
water source as the tree and arbor density.
To ensure that different measurement standards will not
produce different results for the same variables, proposed a
specific division for each ecological factor as follow:
Slope: Different slopes are divided according to the
measured angle; there are five levels, namely 0~5, 6~20,
21~30, 31~40,> 41
Aspect: Divide the aspect into five levels: sunny slope, semi-
sun slope, shade slope, semi-shady slope, and no aspect.
Altitude: The altitude where the golden monkey or its traces
are found, divided into three levels: <2000m, 2000~2500 m,
>2500 m.
Canopy closure: divided into 4 levels, 0~0.24, 0.25~0.49,
0.50~0.74, 0.74~1.00.
Habitat type: Divided into five levels, evergreen broad-
leaved forest, evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed
forest, deciduous coniferous, broad-leaved forest, and
broad-leaved mixed forest, and coniferous forest.
Water source distance: The golden monkey or its traces are
found to be away from the water; the distance of the source is
divided into <100m, 100~300 m, >300m.
Average DBH of trees: The average DBH of all trees in the
trace plots, divided into five grades, namely 0~10~ cm, 11~20
cm, 21~30 cm, 31~50 cm,> 50 cm.
Slope shape: It is divided into five grades: uniform slope,
convex slope, concave slope, compound slope, and non-
slope.
Shrub coverage: Divided into 4 levels, namely 0~0.24,
0.25~0.49, 0.50~ 0.50~ 0.74, 0.75~1.00.
Average tree height: The average tree height of all trees in
the tracepoint plot, divided into four levels: 5-9 m, 10-19 m,
20-29 m, and >30 m.
Tree density: The number of trees (trees) in the trace plot,
divided into
Data processing: The Vanderploeg selection coefficient Wi
and Scavia selection index Ei were used to measure Sichuan
golden snob-nosed monkeys' preference for Habitat (habitat
selection characteristics). The method used was as follows
(Li Dayong et al 2006, Wang Jianhong et al 2006).
Wi= (ri/Pi) / ∑(ri/Pi)
Ei= (Wi-1/n)/ (Wi+1/n)
Among them, Wi is the selection coefficient, Ei is the
1728
Majda Aouititen, Aravinda Ravibhanu, Wancai Xia, Dayong Li and Xiaofeng Luan
selection index, i is the eigenvalue, n is the total number of
eigenvalues, Pi is the number of quadrats with i
characteristics in the environment, and ri is the number of
quadrats with i characteristics selected by the Sichuan
Golden Monkey.
Ei the value is between -1 and 1(Manly et al 2002).
-1<Ei<0 means our monkeys avoids it (indicated by
N.P.),
Ei= -1 means our monkeys will not choose it (indicated
by N),
0<Ei<1 means likely selected by our monkeys (indicated
by P),
Ei = 1 (indicated by S.P.) means a special preference,
Ei = 0 means random selection (indicated by R).
RESULTS And Discussion
Sichuan Golden Monkey's habitat during the winter
season of 2010: The group of monkeys found during the
winter season is mainly active in the evergreen deciduous
broad-leaved mixed forest and the deciduous broad-leaved
forests with an altitude starting from < 2000 m till >2500 m,
located on sunny slopes, with a canopy closure of 25to 49%
and a slope of 6° to 20° and 21° to 30. The main slope shapes
selected were the convex slopes and the composite slopes.
The shrub coverage is 25 ~ 49%; water source distances
found to be around <100 m and 100 ~ 300 m, The group of
monkeys chosen trees with an average DBH of 11 ~ 20 cm,
21 ~ 30 cm, and do not choose woods with a DBH of less than
11 cm and more than 30 cm. Choose trees with an average
height of 10 ~ 19 m, 20 ~ 29 m and ovoid habitat with trees
high below 5 m and above 30 m. The prefers density of trees
woods was between 20~ 40 and >40 nd avoids woods with a
density of less than 20 (Table 1).
Sichuan Golden Monkey's habitat selection during the
summer season of (2010): During the summer season of
2010, group of monkeys was mainly active in the evergreen
deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest and the deciduous
broad-leaved forests. However, avoid the evergreen broad-
leaved forest, coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest, and
the coniferous forest with an altitude of 2000~2500 m, and
avoid elevations less than 2000 m and more than >2500 m,
located on sunny and semi-sunny slopes; still, they avoid
semi-shady foggy slope, with a canopy coverage of 25 to
49%, 50 to 74% and a slope degree of 21° to 30°. The main
slope shapes selected were uniform and composite slopes;
the shrub coverage is 25 ~ 49%; water source distances were
around <100 m, monkeys chose trees with an average DBH
of 0 ~ 10 cm, 11 ~ 20 cm, and do not choose trees with a DBH
21~30 cm, 31~50 cm, and less than 50 cm. They Choose
trees with an average height of 10 ~ 19 m. In fact, do not
select habitats with trees high of 20 ~ 29 m, below 5 m and
above 30 m; the density of trees prefers woods between 20~
40; still, they avoid woods with a density of less than 20 and
more than 40 (Table 2).
The habitat selection for wild animals is often affected
by environmental factors in the ecosystem and their diet
demands (Sun Ruyong 2000, Morrison et al 2006). Studies
previously have documented the impacts of seasonal
variation on the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey's
habitat selection (Hu Jinchu 2005). The present study
indicates monkey's group selected different ecological
variables in a selected habitat that differ from one season to
another. The altitude, habitat aspect, and the distance from
water source played a significant component in the
selection of both winter and summer habitat by R. roxellana
in Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve. Besides, the slope
type and its degree with the forest canopy coverage have a
significant impact on the distribution of monkey's population
during both seasons. The stability of trees, unit cohesion,
and the monitoring potential, were shown to be important
criteria for R. roxellana's selection of a preferred habitat.
The influence of seasonal variations on the type of habitat
selected is not evident since our group of monkeys has
selected for both seasons in the same habitat type, which
were evergreen deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest and
the deciduous broad-leaved forests. When the living
conditions become harsh during the winter season, R.
roxellana has changed its diet and monkeys extend home
range altitude starting from less than 2000 m to beyond
2500 m and during summer, when food starts to be
abundant, R. roxellana restricted their habitat altitude to
2000 ~ 2500 m again. The same observation was recorded
for the distance from the water source selected by our
monkeys. The home range size of R. roxellana group
usually exhibits seasonal variance due to changes in food
availability throughout the year (Albert et al 2013). As it is
challenging for them to find food during the winter season,
monkeys have chosen to be relatively far away from the
river < 100 m, 100 ~ 300 m but not from the food resources,
as the summer season known to be rich in food resources
monkeys have then restricted the distance that separates
them from the river source of water to < 100 m. Guo Qiang
and Xie Jiahua (2002) observed that climatic conditions
may substantially affect the ecological factors that affect
monkey's habitat selection. However, the difference in the
choice of slope type in both seasons may be related to the
wind direction and its strength, as r monkeys use the trees to
stand in, to move around, and to sleep in, as a result, a
relative none-windy slope type will be selected.
Effects of Seasonal Variation on the Behavior Ecology of the Sichuan Golden Snub Nosed Monkey
1729
Table 1. Habitat selection of Rhinopithecus at Tangjiahe National Reserve in winter (2010)
Ecological variables
Pi
Wi
Ei
Habitat
selection
Aspect
38
0.54
0.46
P
12
0.17
-0.08
NP
2
0.02
-0.82
NP
10
0.14
-0.18
NP
9
0.13
-0.21
NP
Slope degree
6
0.07
-0.48
NP
44
0.5
0.43
P
29
0.33
0.25
P
6
0.07
-0.48
NP
3
0.03
-0.74
NP
Type of habitat
0
0
-1
N
56
0.61
0.51
P
22
0.24
0.09
P
14
0.14
-0.18
NP
1
0.01
-0.91
NP
Slope shape
16
0.1
-0.33
NP
33
0.38
0.31
P
13
0.15
-0.14
NP
24
0.27
0.15
P
8
0.1
-0.33
NP
Canopy
13
0.13
-0.53
NP
77
0.78
0.54
P
8
0.08
-0.52
NP
1
0.01
-0.92
NP
Shrub overcast
17
0.21
-0.09
NP
56
0.68
0.16
P
8
0.09
-0.47
NP
2
0.02
-0.85
NP
Elevation (m)
39
0.37
0.06
P
61
0.57
0.27
P
6
0.06
0.69
P
Distance from water (m)
33
0.39
0.08
P
43
0.51
0.21
P
24
0.29
-0.07
NP
Average diameter of tree (cm)
0
0
-1
N
48
2.76
0.87
P
38
2.18
0.83
P
1
0.06
-0.54
NP
0
0
-1
N
Average height of tree (m)
1
0.01
-0.92
NP
65
0.72
0.49
P
24
0.27
0.04
P
0
0
-1
N
Arbor density
19
0.254
-0.13
NP
13
0.173
0.31
P
43
0.573
0.27
P
I.
Eigenvalue, Pi. The number of quadrats with i characteristics in the environment, Wi. Selection factor, Ei. Selection Index, P: likely to be selected, N: not selected,
N.P: avoid it; Pi, the number of sample units under the ith class; ri, the number of units used by snow leopards under the ith class
1730
Majda Aouititen, Aravinda Ravibhanu, Wancai Xia, Dayong Li and Xiaofeng Luan
Table 2. Habitat selection of Rhinopithecus during summer at Tangjiahe National Reserve (2010)
Ecological variables
Eigenvalue (i)
Pi
Wi
Ei
Habitat
selection
Aspect
Sunny slope clear
5
0.5556
0.47059
P
Semi-sun slope overcast
3
0.3333
0.25
P
Shade slope snow
0
0
-1
N
Semi-shady slope foggy
1
0.1111
-0.2857
NP
No aspect
0
0
-1
N
Slope degree
0°≈5°
0
0
-1
N
6°≈20°
1
0.167
-0.0899
NP
21°≈30°
3
0.5
0.42857
P
31°≈40°
1
0.167
-0.0899
NP
>41°
1
0.167
-0.0899
NP
Type of habitat
Evergreen broad-leaved forest
0
0
-1
N
Evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest
7
0.6
0.5
P
Deciduous broad-leaved forest
4
0.4
0.33333
P
Coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forest
0
0
-1
N
Coniferous forest
0
0
-1
N
Slope shape
Uniform slope
2
0.33
0.24528
P
Convex slope
0
0
-1
N
Concave slope
0
0
-1
N
Composite slope
4
0.67
0.54023
P
Non-slope
0
0
-1
N
Canopy
0~0.24
0
0
-1
N
0.25~0.49
3
0.75
0.5
P
0.50~0.74
1
0.25
0
P
0.74~1.00
0
0
-1
N
Shrub overcast
0~0.24
0
0
-1
N
0.25~0.49
3
1
0.6
P
0.50~0.74
0
0
-1
N
0.74~1.00
0
0
-1
N
Elevation (m)
<2000m
2
0.18
-0.2941
NP
2000~2500 m
8
0.73
0.37736
P
>2500 m
1
0.09
-0.5714
NP
Distance from water (m)
<100m
4
1
0.50376
P
100~300 m
0
0
-1
N
>300m
0
0
-1
N
Average diameter of tree (cm)
0~10~ cm
1
0.25
0.11111
P
11~20 cm
3
0.75
0.57895
P
21~30 cm
0
0
-1
N
31~50 cm
0
0
-1
N
> 50 cm
0
0
-1
N
Average height of tree (m)
5-9 m
0
0
-1
N
10-19 m
4
1
0.6
P
20-29 m
0
0
-1
N
>30 m
0
0
-1
N
Arbor density
<20
0
0
-1
N
20~40
1
1
0.50376
P
>40
0
0
-1
N
See Table 1 for details
Effects of Seasonal Variation on the Behavior Ecology of the Sichuan Golden Snub Nosed Monkey
1731
CONCLUSION
Seasonal variation effects on the climatic conditions,
food resources distribution, and monkeys' feeding
preference may be the leading factors affecting habitat
selection behavior. Among them, the distribution of food
resources is the most crucial factor. The more studies will be
needed for a further clear understanding of R. roxellana
selection of habitat.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We are thankful to Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve's
personnel help for all their help and guidance and we would
like to show gratitude to team for their high monitoring quality
of this research. We want to address our sincere appreciation
for all the motivation and support received from Mrs. Jamila
Semlal.
FUNDING SOURCES
This work was supported by the National Natural
Science Foundation of China (No. 32070454), the National
Key Program of Research and Development, Ministry of
Science and Technology (No. 2016YFC0503200), the
Biodiversity Survey and Assessment Project of the Ministry of
Ecology and Environment, China (2019HJ2096001006).
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Received 12 June, 2021; Accepted 10 November, 2021
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