Impact of China's May 12 earthquake on Giant Panda habitat in Wenchuan County


Xu, Weihua; Dong, Rencai; Wang, Xuezhi; Ouyang, Zhiyun; Li, Zhiqi; Xiao, Yi; Zhang, Jindong

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing

Keywords: biology; data processing; image analysis

Volume/Issue: 3

Page Number(s): 1-10

Year Published: 2009


The Minshan and Qionglai mountains, the major distribution range of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), was struck by the Wenchuan earthquake. In this study, we evaluated the impact of the earthquake and subsequent geo-disasters on the Giant Panda and its habitat using Wenchuan county (where the epicenter was located) as a case study. Habitat characteristics before and after the earthquake were analyzed based on TM images taken pre and post-earthquake and previous research in this region. Results showed that about 252.0 km2 of panda habitat was lost in Wenchuan County after the earthquake, which accounted for 13.9% of the total habitat in this county. Regions with high earthquake intensity, low elevation, steep slope, and near river had a higher proportion of habitat loss than in other regions. In addition to habitat loss, the earthquake and its resulting geo-disasters also caused habitat fragmentation. After the earthquake, the number of habitat patches increased by a factor of 2 and mean patch size was only 28.3% of pre-earthquake conditions. Habitat restoration and corridor reparation along Road 303 are necessary for facilitating panda's migration between isolated patches. It is necessary to take some measures including relocation of residents and earthquake compensation to decrease the impact of reconstruction on the Giant Panda and its habitat.

DOI: 10.1117/1.3153916

Type of Publication: Journal Article