Range-wide analysis of wildlife habitat: Implications for conservation

Journal or Book Title: Biological Conservation

Keywords: giant panda; habitat modeling; MODIS; nature reserve; range-wide analysis

Volume/Issue: 143

Page Number(s): 143

Year Published: 2010


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 geographic range (i.e., six mountain regions located in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, China) by integrating 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 currently 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.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.04.046.

Type of Publication: Journal Article