Proposed Conservation Landscape for Giant Pandas in the Minshan Mountains, China


Shen, Guozhen; Feng, Chaoyang; Xie, Zongqiang; Ouyang, Zhiyun; Li, Junqing; Pascal, Marty

Journal or Book Title: Conservation Biology

Keywords: conservation planning; core habitats; giant panda; least-cost model; potential protected habitats

Volume/Issue: 22/5

Page Number(s): 1144-1153

Year Published: 2008


The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), is one of the world’s most endangered species. Habitat
loss and fragmentation have reduced its numbers, shrunk its distribution, and separated the population
into isolated subpopulations. Such isolated, small populations are in danger of extinction due to random
demographic factors and inbreeding. We used least-cost modeling as a systematic approach to incorporate
satellite imagery and data on ecological and behavioral parameters of the giant panda collected during more
than 10 years of field research to design a conservation landscape for giant pandas in the Minshan Mountains.
We identified 8 core habitats and 4 potential linkages that would link core habitats CH3, CH4, and CH5 with
core habitats CH6, CH7, and CH8. Establishing and integrating the identified habitats with existing reserves
would create an efficient reserve network for giant panda conservation. The core habitats had an average
density of 4.9 pandas/100 km2 and contained approximately 76.6% of the giant panda population. About
45% of the core habitat (3245.4 km2) existed outside the current nature reserves network. Total estimated core habitat decreased between 30.4 and 44.5% with the addition of residential areas and road networks factored into the model. A conservation area for giant panda in the Minshan Mountains should aim to ensure habitat retention and connectivity, improve dispersal potential of corridors, and maintain the evolutionary potential of giant pandas in the face of future environmental changes.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.01038.x

Type of Publication: Journal Article