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    How Snow Leopards Share the Same Landscape with Tibetan Agro-pastoral Communities in the Chinese Himalayas
    XIAO Changxi, BAI Defeng, Joseph P. LAMBERT, LI Yibin, Lhaba CERING, GONG Ziling, Philip RIORDAN, SHI Kun
    Journal of Resources and Ecology    2022, 13 (3): 483-500.   DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2022.03.013
    Abstract50)   HTML7)    PDF (13837KB)(18)      

    The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) inhabits a human-altered alpine landscape and is often tolerated by residents in regions where the dominant religion is Tibetan Buddhism, including in Qomolangma NNR on the northern side of the Chinese Himalayas. Despite these positive attitudes, many decades of rapid economic development and population growth can cause increasing disturbance to the snow leopards, altering their habitat use patterns and ultimately impacting their conservation. We adopted a dynamic landscape ecology perspective and used multi- scale technique and occupancy model to better understand snow leopard habitat use and coexistence with humans in an 825 km2 communal landscape. We ranked eight hypothetical models containing potential natural and anthropogenic drivers of habitat use and compared them between summer and winter seasons within a year. HABITAT was the optimal model in winter, whereas ANTHROPOGENIC INFLUENCE was the top ranking in summer (AICcw≤2). Overall, model performance was better in the winter than in the summer, suggesting that perhaps some latent summer covariates were not measured. Among the individual variables, terrain ruggedness strongly affected snow leopard habitat use in the winter, but not in the summer. Univariate modeling suggested snow leopards prefer to use rugged land in winter with a broad scale (4000 m focal radius) but with a lesser scale in summer (30 m); Snow leopards preferred habitat with a slope of 22° at a scale of 1000 m throughout both seasons, which is possibly correlated with prey occurrence. Furthermore, all covariates mentioned above showed inextricable ties with human activities (presence of settlements and grazing intensity). Our findings show that multiple sources of anthropogenic activity have complex connections with snow leopard habitat use, even under low human density when anthropogenic activities are sparsely distributed across a vast landscape. This study is also valuable for habitat use research in the future, especially regarding covariate selection for finite sample sizes in inaccessible terrain.

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    Nest-site Choice and Breeding Success among Four Sympatric Species of Passerine Birds in a Reedbed-dominated Wetland
    MA Laikun, YANG Canchao, LIANG Wei
    Journal of Resources and Ecology    2021, 12 (1): 22-29.   DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2021.01.003
    Abstract369)   HTML21)    PDF (4798KB)(67)      

    The efficacy of nest-site choice ultimately determines the breeding success of birds. Comparisons of the reproductive strategies of various bird species which inhabit the same habitat may provide insights on the evolution of the diverse life-history strategies in birds. In this study, nest-site choice and breeding success of four species of passerine birds that rely on reeds for reproduction were investigated in a wetland in Hebei, China. The four species were the Oriental reed warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) (ORW), the blunt-winged warbler (Acrocephalus concinens) (BW), the reed parrotbill (Paradoxornis heudei) (RP), and the vinous-throated parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) (VP). Our results showed that breeding nests of the four species were distributed in a mosaic pattern within the same habitat, with similar nest shapes/structures and nest-sites in the reeds. The only characteristics which differed significantly among the species were nest height above the water surface, height of reeds where nests were placed, and density of reeds around the nest site. In addition, the starting time of reproduction clearly differed for the four species. The breeding success rates of the four species were 34.5% (86/249) for ORW, 35.3% (6/17) for BW, 38.5% (15/39) for RP, and 40.9% (9/22) for VP in the two study years. The main factors affecting the breeding success were nest predation and poor weather conditions, like heavy rainstorms and wind, while nest parasitism by the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) represented an important factor for breeding failure only in the Oriental reed warbler. Our study demonstrated that these four sympatric species of passerine birds inhabiting the same wetland exhibit differences in terms of nest-site choice and breeding phenology.

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    Study of Vulture Habitat Suitability and Impact of Climate Change in Central India Using MaxEnt
    Kaushalendra K. JHA, Radhika JHA
    Journal of Resources and Ecology    2021, 12 (1): 30-42.   DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2021.01.004
    Abstract196)   HTML96)    PDF (2943KB)(57)      

    Vultures provide invaluable ecosystem services and play an important role in ecosystem balancing. The number of native vultures in India has declined in the past. Acquiring present knowledge of their habitat spread is essential to manage and prevent such a decline. It is envisaged that ongoing climate crisis may further cause change in habitat suitability and impact the existing population. Therefore, this study in Central India—a vulture stronghold, is aimed at predicting habitat changes in the short and long term and present the data statistically and graphically by using Species Distribution Model. MaxEnt software was chosen for its advantages over other models, like using presence-only data and performing well with incomplete data, small sample sizes and gaps, etc. Global Climate Model ensemble (CCSM4, HadGEM2AO and MIROC5), was used to get better prediction. Fourteen robust models (AUC 0.864-0.892) were developed using data from over 1000 locations of seven vulture species over two seasons together. Selected climatic and other environmental variables were used to predict the current habitat. Future prediction was based on climatic variables only. The most important variables influencing the distribution were precipitation (bio 15, bio 18, bio 19) and temperature (bio 3, bio 5). Forest and water bodies were the major influencers within land use-landcover in the current prediction. At finer scale, while extremely suitable habitat area decreased and highly suitable area increased over time, the total suitable area marginally increased in 2050 but decreased in 2070. For broader consideration, net loss in suitable area was 5% in 2050 and 7.17% in 2070 (RCP4.5). Similarly, in the RCP8.5 this was 6% in 2050 and 7.3% in 2070. The data generated can be used in conservation planning and management and thus protecting the vultures from any future threat.

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    Spatio-temporal Changes in Wildlife Habitat Quality in the Middle and Lower Reaches of the Yangtze River from 1980 to 2100 based on the InVEST Model
    LI Qing, ZHOU Yong, Mary Ann CUNNINGHAM, XU Tao
    Journal of Resources and Ecology    2021, 12 (1): 43-55.   DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2021.01.005
    Abstract280)   HTML185)    PDF (1126KB)(285)      

    The Yangtze River (YZR) regions have experienced rapid changes after opening up to economic reforms, and human activities have changed the land cover, ecology, and wildlife habitat quality. However, the specific ways in which those influencing factors changed the habitat quality during different periods remain unknown. This study assessed the wildlife habitat quality of the middle and lower YZR in the past (1980-2018) and in future scenarios (2050, 2100). We analyzed the relationships between habitat quality and various topological social-economic factors, and then mapped and evaluated the changes in habitat quality by using the Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) model. The results show that the slope (R = 0.502, P < 0.01, in 2015), elevation (R = 0.003, P < 0.05, in 2015), population density (R = -0.299, P < 0.01, in 2015), and NDVI (R = 0.366, P < 0.01, in 2015) in the study area were significantly correlated with habitat quality from 2000 to 2015. During the period of 1980-2018, 61.93% of the study area experienced habitat degradation and 38.07% of the study area had improved habitat quality. In the future, the habitat quality of the study area will decline under either the A2 scenario (high level of population density, low environmental technology input, and high traditional energy cost) or the B2 scenario (medium level of population density, medium green technology and lack of cooperation of regional governments). The results also showed that habitat in the lower reaches or north of the YZR had degraded more than in the middle reaches or the south of YZR. Therefore, regional development should put more effort into environmental protection, curb population growth, and encourage green technology innovation. Inter-province cooperation is necessary when dealing with ecological problems. This study can serve as a scientific reference for regional wildlife protection and similar investigations in different areas.

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