Suitable habitat prediction and overlap analysis of two sympatric species, giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) in Liangshan Mountains

HE Meixiang1 CHEN Lixin1 LUO Gai1 GU Xiaodong2 WANG Ge3 RAN Jianghong1

(1.Key Laboratory of Bio-Resource and Eco-Environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065)
(2.Sichuan Station of Wild Life Survey and Management, Chengdu 610081)
(3.Shifang Monitoring Station of Jiuding Mountain Provincial Nature Reserve of Sichuan, Shifang, Sichuan 618400)

【Abstract】Understanding spatial distribution and habitat overlap of sympatric species is essential to developing integrated policies for conserving species and regional biodiversity. This study combined data from the 4th National Survey of giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and long-term field survey. We used the Maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) to predict the distributions of two sympatric bears, the giant panda and Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) in Liangshan Mountains. Based on spatial distribution of two species, we measured habitat fragmentation and spatial overlap of habitat use, and assessed environmental requirements of both species. Our results indicated that: (1) both species had similar distributions of suitable habitats, both were mainly distributed on the ridges of Liangshan Mountains. The suitable habitat area of giant panda and Asiatic black bear were 1 383.84 km2 and 2 411.49 km2, respectively. (2) The habitats of both species were fragmented and separated into many patches. However, the habitat connectivity for the Asiatic black bear was better than for giant panda. (3) The niche overlap indices, calculated by ENMTools, showed that two species had high overlap in their ecological niche (D = 0.654 and I = 0.901). The overlapping habitat comprised 958.29 km2 of the study area, which contained 69.25% of giant panda habitat and 39.74% of Asiatic black bear habitat. (4) We used permutation techniques to estimate the importance of environmental variables in the MaxEnt model. Distance to residents and altitude were the most influential predictors for both species. Vegetation types and mean temperature of coldest quarter were the third and fourth important predictors for giant panda, while the annual maximum enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and distance to roads was important for the Asiatic black bear. To protect these two species more effectively, a series of measures have to be adopted, such as strengthening vegetation restoration, controlling disturbance, and enhancing connectivity between habitat patches. We recommend that a systematic, multi-species conservation plan should be developed.

【Keywords】 giant panda; Asiatic black bear; MaxEnt; conservation; sympatry; Liangshan Mountains;

【DOI】

【Funds】 International Cooperation Fund of State Forestry Administration ([2017] 115)

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This Article

ISSN:1005-0094

CN: 11-3247/Q

Vol 26, No. 11, Pages 1180-1189

November 2018

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Article Outline

Abstract

  • 1 Study area
  • 2 Study methods
  • 3 Study results
  • 4 Discussion
  • References