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Aqsay, Kazakhstan

Gao X.Y.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Xu W.X.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Xu W.X.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Yang W.K.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Arid Land | Year: 2011

Based on a long-term field investigation and other research results, we reviewed the status and distribution of ungulates in Xinjiang, China. The ungulates in Xinjiang included 19 ungulate species (30 subspecies) from 6 families and 2 orders. Among them, 3 species (2 subspecies) relate to Equidae (Perrisodactyla), and 16 species (28 subspecies) are from 5 families of Artiodactyla. In this paper, we analyzed the conservation status of most rare and important 13 ungulate species. Firstly, we proposed the protection of genetic diversity of Camelus ferus and the distribution areas of Moschus sifanicus, Procapra przewalskii and Saiga tatarica in Xinjiang. We found that Moschus sifanicus but not Procapra przewalskii distributed in Xinjiang. It was not clear whether the remnant populations of Saiga tatarica existed in Xinjiang and China-Kazakhstan border or not. We discussed that the protection level and rational use of Capra sibirica and enhancing protection level and enlarging monitoring and research projects for Pantholops hodgsoni and Gazella subgutturosa. And we would like to suggest Forestry Department to develop the captive breeding of Tibetan antelope for rational use. In addition, the captive breeding of Cervus elaphus in Xinjiang was reviewed. Local government should lessen strong control to Cervus elaphus because of many breeding centers' establishment.

Singh N.J.,Imperial College London | Grachev I.A.,Kazakhstan Academy of science | Bekenov A.B.,Kazakhstan Academy of science | Milner-Gulland E.J.,Imperial College London
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2010

Aim: Long-distance migrations of terrestrial animals, driven by needs such as food, water and escaping predators and harsh climatic conditions, are widely known phenomena. The saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica) migrates over long distances in the semi-arid rangelands of Central Asia. Both the saiga's range and its populations have been severely affected by socio-political and land use changes over the last century, related to the formation and dissolution of the Soviet Union. We identified ecological drivers of saiga migration, compared four populations in terms of differences in the geographical characteristics of their ranges and the factors affecting habitat selection within the seasonal ranges. Location: Kazakhstan and pre-Caspian Russia. Methods: Using 40 years of direct observations, we tested for differences between the four saiga populations' ranges in terms of precipitation, seasonal productivity and topographical variables using discriminant analyses. We tested hypotheses concerning the drivers of migration to their seasonal ranges and assessed the impact of peak and average values and the predictability of drivers of habitat use within the seasonal ranges using logistic regressions. Results: Three of the four populations migrate in a similar way, following a latitudinal gradient driven by seasonal changes in productivity, which is closely related to broad-scale differences in precipitation. Intermediate productivity and its low interannual variability determine habitat selection within the seasonal ranges of all the populations. Main conclusions: Migration of all four populations is driven by productivity and precipitation. The migrations in Kazakhstan are still intact despite major recent disruption to the populations, whereas their status in the pre-Caspian region is unknown. All four populations are under severe threat from habitat loss, poaching, lack of protection and gaps in ecological knowledge. A better understanding of the drivers of saiga migration at multiple scales is a key step towards addressing these threats. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Singh N.J.,Imperial College London | Grachev I.A.,Kazakhstan Academy of science | Bekenov A.B.,Kazakhstan Academy of science | Milner-Gulland E.J.,Imperial College London
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010

Many terrestrial mammalian species aggregate to give birth. Such aggregations are likely to be a response to changing resource and water availability, for predator swamping and avoidance of disturbance. The critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) is one such species. We analysed spatio-temporal locations of saiga calving aggregations in Kazakhstan over the last four decades obtained from aerial and ground surveys, to identify the factors determining the selection of calving sites within the species' range as well as any changes in these locations over time. Generalized mixed models were employed in a use - availability framework to assess the factors distinguishing calving from random sites and predict suitable areas for calving. Saigas selected sites, with lower than average productivity and low year to year variability in productivity, at an intermediate distance from water sources, and away from human settlements. A significant change in calving locations was observed during the last decade, with calving areas occurring further north and further away from settlements than previously. The results demonstrate that the choice of calving areas is largely driven by environmental factors. However, disturbance also has a significant impact on calving site selection and in recent decades, its influence overrides that of environmental factors. This increase in the influence of disturbance coincides with a precipitous decline in saiga numbers due to poaching, as well as substantial reductions in the intensity of land use for livestock grazing following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Predictive models based on such studies can improve species conservation by guiding the stratification of sampling for effective monitoring and deployment of rangers to protect the females at this critical time. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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