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News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: phys.org

This April marks the start of the birthing season for the milu deer, which has long been famed as having the head of a horse, the hooves of a cow, the tail of a donkey and the antlers of a deer. As the herds across China grow each spring, they mark a rare conservation success story in a country suffering from pollution and other environmental challenges. "Our protection of the milu is about protecting our living cultural heritage and natural heritage," said Guo Geng, vice director of the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center, where they expect about 30 fawns this year. Known as Pere David's Deer in the West, the milu's significance to Chinese culture is embodied in its appearance in ancient Chinese poems and writings. "But if, outside of books, they become extinct, then the next generation will be extremely regretful," said Guo. Today, there are about 5,500 milu deer in China, with as many as 600 living in the wild in Hubei and Hunan provinces along the Yangtze River. How the species was spared from extinction is an unlikely tale spanning lifetimes and involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born American zoologist. The deer, which had roamed China's marshlands for thousands of years, were among the animals brought from around China to live within the emperor's hunting grounds in what is now the south of Beijing during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The number of milu deer living in the wild waned due to loss of habitat, before finally dying out in 1900 in the hunting grounds, which were flooded and then overtaken by soldiers from the eight nations brought in to suppress the Boxer Rebellion and who slaughtered the deer for food. The first break for the species was decades earlier in 1865, when the French missionary, Father Armand David, introduced the species to the West, enabling it to make its way into European zoos. Then, in the same years the final milu deer were dying in China, the 11th Duke of Bedford, an English politician who had an interest in zoology and conservation, took note and gathered 18 on his estate in England to create what became the world's only surviving herd. Fast forward to the 1980s, and Slovak-born American zoologist Maria Boyd had taken an interest in the milu deer. Boyd's late husband happened to be friends with an important source: the 14th Duke of Bedford, or the great-grandson of the man who saved the herd. In 1985, the duke tasked Boyd with reintroducing 37 deer to China, and she chose the spot where they had last been seen alive in their native country. The late Boyd wrote an account documenting the re-introduction, drawing on documents kept in five suitcases over the years, including the 9,290 British pound sterling invoice from Air France for the flight that transported the first batch of 22 deer. Her surviving partner is co-writing the book and expects it to be published in China this summer. Boyd initially planned to stay in China only until the reintroduction project was completed, but was still living here when she died from cancer last year at age 72. "She would not let the deer go," said her partner, Dominic Bauquis, from France. Given her love for the milu and its "beautiful story" of surviving against the odds, Boyd had expected it to be picked as a mascot for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Bauquis said. It lost out to other animals, including the much more famous panda. When she died, Boyd was holding out hope for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. "The panda doesn't have such rich experience across the world," said Guo. In this April 10, 2017 photo, female Milu deers guide a fawn crossing a stream at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Milu deers gather during feeding time at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this photo taken April 10, 2017, a Milu deer with bloodied antlers from shedding at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, a keeper rubs the ear of Xiao Bao, a Milu deer which is used to human contact from being raised by humans after her mother abandoned her as a baby at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Milu deers gather during feeding time at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, a keeper looks Xiao Bao, a Milu deer which is used to human contact from being raised by humans when her mother abandoned her at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Guo Geng, vice director of the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center talks about the Milu deer at the center in Beijing. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Guo Geng, vice director of the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center talks about the Milu deer at the center in Beijing. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Dominic Bauquis talks about the work of his partner Maria Boyd during an interview at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Boyd, wrote an account before she died last year documenting the reintroduction of the Milu deer back to China and her fervent hope that it could become the mascot of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Her surviving partner Bauquis is co-writing the book and expects it to be published in China this summer. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Dominic Bauquis holds up a book with one of the first painting depicting the Milu deer also known as the Pere David deer during an interview at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. His partner Maria Boyd, wrote an account before she died last year documenting the reintroduction of the Milu deer back to China and her fervent hope that it could become the mascot of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Bauquis is co-writing the book and expects it to be published in China this summer. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, Dominic Bauquis talks about the work of his partner Maria Boyd during an interview at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Boyd, wrote an account before she died last year documenting the reintroduction of the Milu deer back to China and her fervent hope that it could become the mascot of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Her surviving partner Bauquis is co-writing the book and expects it to be published in China this summer. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this April 10, 2017 photo, a photo of the late Maria Boyd is seen amongst documents presented by her partner Dominic Bauquis during an interview at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. Boyd, wrote an account before she died last year documenting the reintroduction of the Milu deer back to China and her fervent hope that it could become the mascot of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Her surviving partner Bauquis is co-writing the book and expects it to be published in China this summer. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) In this photo taken on April 17, 2015 and released by Bai Jiade, director of Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center, a Milu deer licks a new born fawn at the center in Beijing. Said to appear as an amalgam of four animals, the species was saved from extinction and brought back to its homeland as part of an unlikely tale involving a French missionary, an English duke and a Slovak-born zoologist. (Bai Jiade/ Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center via AP) Explore further: No more screwworm medications for Key deer as threat wanes


Liu Q.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Q.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Liu Y.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Y.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Zhang M.,CAS Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Aerosol and Air Quality Research | Year: 2014

Concentrations of carbonyl compounds (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and acetone) and BTEX (benzene, toluene and xylenes) were monitored at 128 residential homes (255) in Xicheng district, Beijing, during the period of November-December 2009. The indoor concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetone, benzene, toluene and xylenes were in the ranges of 1.3-85.6 μg/m3, 0.7-102.0 μg/m3, 0.3-102.1 μg/m3, 0.1-25.1 μg/m3, 1.0-47.5 μg/m3, 1.3-86.0 μg/m3 and 0.2-78.7 μg/m3, respectively. The concentrations of all species during the investigation period were below the Chinese guideline values. Based on the measured concentrations, a receptor model (PMF; positive matrix factorization) coupled with the source information was applied to identify the major emission sources. The results showed that four major sources were identified by the PMF method, including (1) outdoor incursion factors, (2) emissions from building materials and paint solvent, (3) emissions from particle board and plywood flooring and (4) emissions from household cleaning chemicals. Our results also reveal that the health risks due to exposure to formaldehyde and benzene for Beijing residents were greater during this period than those for people living in Guangzhou and Hangzhou, China. © Taiwan Association for Aerosol Research.


Liu Y.-J.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Y.-J.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Zhang T.-T.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Q.-Y.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | And 3 more authors.
Aerosol and Air Quality Research | Year: 2014

In Beijing, capital of China, decreasing visibility has become a serious problem on people's life, thus a hot environmental concern. An urban roadside site in Beijing was chosen to collect 24-h TSP, PM10 and PM2.5 samples for one month each season from June 2009 to March 2010. The PM mass concentrations, and the concentrations of ions, EC, OC and metals in PM10 and PM2.5 were measured, and their correlation with visibility, as well as the influence of weather factors on visibility were studied. The results showed that daily mean concentrations of TSP, PM10 and PM2.5 were 75-1350 μg/m3 (mean 275.8), 29-448 μg/m3 (mean 187) and up to 300 μg/m3 (mean 92.6), with the number of days exceeding the secondary standard (GB3095-2012) representing 33.3%, 59.8% and 51.0%, respectively. All PM concentrations were higher in spring than in other seasons. Obvious seasonal variations were observed for certain ions, OC, EC and metal concentrations in PM10 and PM2.5. Average mean visibility was low (5.64 km), showing better visibility in summer than in other seasons. PM10 and PM2.5 showed stronger negative correlation with visibility giving coefficients of-0.52 and-0.50. Almost all significant correlations were negative and occurred in autumn for visibility with TSP, PM10 and PM2.5, and with ions, EC and OC in both PM10 and PM2.5. The only positive and significant correlation was found between fine OC and visibility. Negative and significant correlations were also observed for visibility with humidity in autumn and winter, and with minimum temperature in all seasons but summer. © Taiwan Association for Aerosol Research.


Liu Q.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Q.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Liu Y.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Y.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Zhang M.,CAS Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Building and Environment | Year: 2013

Exposure to indoor chemical air pollutants is expected to increase potentially the chance of developing cancer. Ambient levels of carbonyl (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein and acetone) and BTEXs (benzene, toluene and xylenes) compounds were monitored at 210 residential homes in Xicheng district, Beijing, during the period of November-December 2009. The indoor concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetone, benzene, toluene and xylenes were in the range of 0.2-213.4 μg m-3, 0.7-140.9 μg m-3, 0.1-25.2 μg m-3, 0.3-102.1 μg m-3, 1.0-47.5 μg m-3, 1.3-552.6 μg m-3 and 0.2-150.6 μg m-3, respectively. Average concentrations of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, acetone, benzene, toluene and xylenes were 21.8 μg m-3, 16.3 μg m-3, 2.8 μg m-3, 10.7 μg m-3, 9.0 μg m-3, 32.1 μg m-3 and 12.3 μg m-3, respectively. The individual samples were mostly lower than the Chinese guideline values except formaldehyde and toluene, which showed higher values in 91 and 29 samples. Statistical analysis and I/O (indoor concentration/outdoor concentration) ratio results showed that the main sources of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene and toluene at homes with renovation age <5 years were organic solvents used in adhesives and decoration materials. Meanwhile, outdoor emission factors may have an impact on acetone, acrolein and xylenes concentrations of indoor air at different homes, and on formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene and toluene concentrations of indoor air at homes with renovation age >5 years. Our results also showed that higher cancer risks for human exposure to formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and benzene than previous studies in Guangzhou and Hangzhou, China with one exception. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Zeng Y.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Li C.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang L.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Zhong Z.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Jiang Z.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Current Zoology | Year: 2013

Considering the severe impacts of genetic bottlenecks and small numbers of founders in populations of reintroduced animals, it is necessary to study inbreeding and its effect on fitness in species of conservation concern. Père David's deer is one of few large mammal species extinct in the wild but safely preserved in captivity. Its specific background gives us the opportunity to study the relationships between heterozygosity and neonatal fitness in relocated populations. We employed five microsatellite loci to explore heterozygosity-fitness correlations in a population of Père David's deer at the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center. We observed associations between microsatellite-based variables sMLH, IR, MD2 and HL, and two components of fitness expressed early in life (birth weight and the neonatal mortality of 123 Père David's deer calves born over six consecutive years). We found that neonatal mortality was 19.1% ± 7.6%, not higher than the 19% or 18% reported in other ungulates. The heterozygosity of calves was not associated with neonatal mortality, nor birth weight. Our study implies that low genetic variability of microsatellite loci has no overt effect on birth weight and neonatal mortality in reintroduced populations of Père David's deer [Current Zoology 59 (2): 249-256, 2013]. © 2013 Current Zoology.


Li C.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Yang X.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Yang X.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Ding Y.,Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Whether prey retains antipredator behavior after a long period of predator relaxation is an important question in predatorprey evolution. Père David's deer have been raised in enclosures for more than 1200 years and this isolation provides an opportunity to study whether Père David's deer still respond to the cues of their ancestral predators or to novel predators. We played back the sounds of crows (familiar sound) and domestic dogs (familiar non-predators), of tigers and wolves (ancestral predators), and of lions (potential naïve predator) to Père David's deer in paddocks, and blank sounds to the control group, and videoed the behavior of the deer during the experiment. We also showed life-size photo models of dog, leopard, bear, tiger, wolf, and lion to the deer and video taped their responses after seeing these models. Père David's deer stared at and approached the hidden loudspeaker when they heard the roars of tiger or lion. The deer listened to tiger roars longer, approached to tiger roars more and spent more time staring at the tiger model. The stags were also found to forage less in the trials of tiger roars than that of other sound playbacks. Additionally, it took longer for the deer to restore their normal behavior after they heard tiger roars, which was longer than that after the trial of other sound playbacks. Moreover, the deer were only found to walk away after hearing the sounds of tiger and wolf. Therefore, the tiger was probably the main predator for Père David's deer in ancient time. Our study implies that Père David's deer still retain the memories of the acoustic and visual cues of their ancestral predators in spite of the long term isolation from natural habitat. © 2011 Li et al.


Cheng Z.B.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Bai J.D.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | Zhong Z.Y.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2016

We observed velvet antler growth and antler casting in 59 male Pére David's deer (Elaphurus davidianus) in Beijing Nanhaizi during August 2013 and 2014, using a telescope (Swarvoski 8´42 WB) and camera (Canon 550D 70 300). The antler casting time of the population tended to be delayed with decreased age, and some dominant and high-ranking bucks cast their antlers earlier than the oldest bucks. We gathered 89 antlers from December 2012 to February 2014 and found that more individuals cast the right antler earlier than the left (48.8% versus 34.1%); the remaining deer (17%) cast both antlers on the same day, and that the same individuals cast the heavier antler earlier than the lighter one (41.5% versus 41.5%). The average time interval between left and right antler casting was 1.98 days. There was a significant negative correlation between antler weight and casting time in 2013 (R2 = -0.898, P =0.000, n =32) and 2014 (R2 =-0.842, P = 0.000, n = 57). The antler casting time of the population showed a delayed tendency as antler weight was decreased, but the first antler cast was not the heaviest one. During June 2013 and May 2014, we investigated the start and end date of the antler cycle in nine populations of Pere David's deer using field, literature, and telephone surveys. The nine populations were from Beijing Nanhaizi Milu Park (BNMP), Jiangsu Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve (JDMNR), Hubei Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve (HSMNR), Liaoning Liaoyang Qianshan (LLQ), Zhejiang Linan Milu Conservation Center (ZLMCC), Zhengjiang Cixi National Wetland Park (ZCNWP), Tianjin Qilihai National Wetland Park (TQNWP), Hainan Tropical Wildlife Zoo (HTWZ), and Hebei Luan River National Nature Reserve (HLRNR). We found that wild populations cast earlier than captive and semi-free populations. A tropical population that immigrated into Hainan Province also had a regular annual antler cycle. The start and end dates of the antler cycle differed between years and habitats. The start date of antler casting was not related to altitude, longitude, latitude, annual average temperature, captivity, or climate; rather, photoperiod and hormone status regulated the antler cycle. Other factors affecting the cycle included age, antler weight, nutrition and energy status, population density, and phenological characteristics. © 2015, Ecological Society of China. All rights reserved.


Liu Q.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Q.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Liu Y.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Liu Y.,Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center | And 3 more authors.
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2014

To study the chemical characteristics of Asian dust storm, airborne particulate matter PM10 (particles with aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10μm) was collected at two sites in Beijing from March to May 2012. Water soluble ions, metals, organic carbon and elemental carbon were analyzed. Two dust storm (DS) samples were also collected during the sampling period on March 28th (DS1) and April 28th (DS2). Backward trajectory results showed that both events were originated from Inner Mongolia and Mongolia. A receptor model, positive matrix factorization (PMF) was applied to calculate the soil emission differences between DS and non-DS days. Five emission sources were identified that contribute to PM10, including soil dust, vehicular emission, industrial emission, metal processing and secondary ions. The PMF estimated contributions of dust aerosols to PM10 were in the range of 31%-40% during DS days, which were far greater than that contribution (10%-20%) from local soil dust only during non-DS days. Furthermore, lead isotopic composition analyses in PM10 in Beijing and the soil samples from Inner Mongolia Plateau and Zhangbei Plateau were conducted. Higher lead isotopic ratios (206Pb/207Pb, 206Pb/208Pb) in PM10 were observed in DS days than non-DS days, and those ratio compositions were found to be similar to those observed in the dry lakebed soil samples collected from Inner Mongolia Plateau and Zhangbei Plateau, which indicate that the dry lakebed region served as a dust transport pathway of those two DS events. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Liu Q.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Liu Q.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | Zhang Y.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Liu Y.,Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research | Year: 2014

Epidemiologic studies have suggested that particulate matter (PM)-associated adverse health effects are related to particle composition. To study the toxicological characteristics of dust storm, airborne PM10 was collected at two sites in Beijing from March to May 2012. The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), quantified by dithiothreitol (DTT), was used to measure the PM-induced oxidative potential. Two dust storm (DS) samples were monitored during the sampling period: one happened on March 28th (DS1) and the other one was on April 28th (DS2). The backward trajectory results showed that both events originated from Inner Mongolia and Mongolia, respectively. The increased trends of ROS activities during the dust storm episode in PM10 were observed for all the dust storms owing to a higher concentration of water-soluble components for all the PM10 samples compared to nondust storm ones. Interestingly, the correlations between DTT consumption with water-soluble species yield interesting results about the spatial variability of redox activity between sites. In particular, a tracer of soil suspension, namely Fe, contributed the most fraction to ROS variability in the urban background site. Water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) made the highest contribution to ROS variability, suggesting that vehicle emission might be important driving factors of the PM-induced oxidative stress in the urban site. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


PubMed | Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center
Type: | Journal: Ecotoxicology and environmental safety | Year: 2016

Various plant species of green belt in urban traffic area help to reduce air pollution and beautify the city environment. Those plant species growing healthily under long-term atmospheric pollution environment are considered to be resilient. This study aims to identify plant species that are more tolerant to air pollution from traffic and to give recommendations for future green belt development in urban areas. Leaf samples of 47 plant species were collected from two heavy traffic roadside sites and one suburban site in Beijing during summer 2014. Four parameters in leaves were separately measured including relative water content (RWC), total chlorophyll content (TCH), leaf-extract pH (pH), and ascorbic acid (AA). The air pollution tolerance index (APTI) method was adopted to assess plants resistance ability based on the above four parameters. The tolerant levels of plant species were classified using two methods, one by comparing the APTI value of individual plant to the average of all species and another by using fixed APTI values as standards. Tolerant species were then selected based on combination results from both methods. The results showed that different tolerance orders of species has been found at the three sampling sites due to varied air pollution and other environmental conditions. In general, plant species Magnolia denudata, Diospyros kaki, Ailanthus altissima, Fraxinus chinensis and Rosa chinensis were identified as tolerant species to air pollution environment and recommend to be planted at various location of the city, especially at heavy traffic roadside.

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