China Wildlife Conservation Association

Beijing, China

China Wildlife Conservation Association

Beijing, China
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Gong M.,Chinese Academy of Forestry | Fan Z.,WWF China | Zhang X.,WWF China | Liu G.,Chinese Academy of Forestry | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2017

The conservation outcomes of a protected area depend on management actions. The effectiveness of protected area management remains a concern for donors and policy-makers. However, very few feasible methods assessing the ability and performance of management teams have been developed. Behavioral shifts in habitat usage, direct and sensitive wildlife responses to threats, have been ignored in the evaluation of protected area management. To address the technical limitations, we developed a method that uses the behavioral dynamics of target species as indicators of the efficacy of threat reduction, control, and overall management effort. By comparing wildlife behavior with threat avoidance distances and patterns we can examine threat mitigation efficacy as a proxy for overall reserve management effectiveness. Using evidence of giant panda habitat utilization in eleven reserves across Qinling Mountains from 2000 to 2012, we built a model of behavior based on the avoidance of four types of anthropogenic threat. We stratified the eleven reserves into five efficacies, of which Changqing reserve was deemed to have the highest management effectiveness. Our approach was validated and supported by changes in suitable habitat and population size across reserves. Focusing on the end result of all threats and management effort means that our framework is straightforward for reserve staff to implement, produces easily interpreted results, and is worthy of application. This study highlights the value of behavioral dynamics when making a full and scientific assessment of the effectiveness of protected area management, and helps investors and policy-makers realize the efficacy of conservation inputs. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd

Zhang Z.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang Z.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research | Zhang Z.,China West Normal University | Swaisgood R.R.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research | And 4 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are an iconic conservation species, but despite significant research effort, do we understand what they really need? Estimating and mapping suitable habitat play a critical role in conservation planning and policy. But if assumptions about ecological needs are wrong, maps with misidentified suitable habitat willmisguide conservation action. Here, we use an information-theoretic approach to analyse the largest, landscape-level dataset on panda habitat use to date, and challenge the prevailing wisdom about panda habitat needs. We show that pandas are associated with old-growth forest more than with any ecological variable other than bamboo. Other factors traditionally used in panda habitat models, such as topographic slope, are less important. We suggest that our findings are disparate from previous research in part because our research was conducted over a larger ecological scale than previous research conducted over more circumscribed areas within individual reserves. Thus, extrapolating from habitat studies on small scales to conservation planning on large scales may entail some risk. As the Chinese government is considering the renewal of its logging ban, it should take heed of the panda's dependency on old growth. © 2010 The Royal Society.

Qi D.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang S.,China Wildlife Conservation Association | Zhang Z.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang Z.,China West Normal University | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2012

Examining ecological processes across spatial scales is crucial as animals select and use resources at different scales. We carried out field surveys in September 2005, March-September 2006, and April 2007, and used ecological niche factor analysis to determine habitat preferences for the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) across 4 spatial scales: daily movement, core range, home range, and seasonal elevational migration. We found that giant pandas prefer conifer forest and mixed forest at higher than average elevation (2,157 m) of study area in the 4 scale models. However, we also observed significant scale differences in habitat selection. The strength of habitat preference increased with scale for the 2 disturbed forests (sparse forest and fragmented forest), and decreased with scale for 0-30° gentle slope and south- and north-facing aspect. Furthermore, habitat suitability patterns were scale-dependent. These findings highlight the need to determine species-environment associations across multiple scales for habitat management and species conservation. Copyright © The Wildlife Society, 2012.

Wu H.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Wu H.,Central China Normal University | Zhang S.-N.,China Wildlife Conservation Association | Wei F.-W.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

Since the number and range of Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) are declining due to habitat loss and illegal trade, it is essential to take effective actions to reinforce the conservation of the remaining bear populations. In order to aid such conservation efforts, we developed 12 novel polymorphic microsatellite loci of Asiatic black bear from genomic DNA-enriched libraries in this paper. The number of alleles per locus in 24 individuals ranged from 3 to 10, the average observed heterozygosity per locus from 0. 214 to 0. 950, and the average expected heterozygosity per locus from 0. 243 to 0. 891. Eight loci followed Hardy-Weinberg expectations after Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. No significant linkage association was found among all these loci. The 12 polymorphic microsatellite loci will be helpful to the conservation of the Asiatic black bear. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Zhu L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhu L.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Zhan X.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Wu H.,CAS Institute of Zoology | And 5 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

In conservation biology, understanding the causes of endangerment is a key step to devising effective conservation strategies. We used molecular evidence (coalescent simulations of population changes from microsatellite data) and historical information (habitat and human population changes) to investigate how the most-isolated populations of giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca. ) in the Xiaoxiangling Mountains became highly endangered. These populations experienced a strong, recent demographic reduction (60-fold), starting approximately 250 years BP. Explosion of the human population and use of non-native crop species at the peak of the Qing Empire resulted in land-use changes, deforestation, and habitat fragmentation, which are likely to have led to the drastic reduction of the most-isolated populations of giant pandas. We predict that demographic, genetic, and environmental factors will lead to extinction of giant pandas in the Xiaoxiangling Mountains in the future if the population remains isolated. Therefore, a targeted conservation action-translocation-has been proposed and is being implemented by the Chinese goverment. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.

Zhu L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Hu Y.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Qi D.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Wu H.,CAS Institute of Zoology | And 10 more authors.
Ecology | Year: 2013

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) was taken to the brink of extinction in the 1980s through a combination of deforestation, large-scale loss of bamboo in the core of its range, poaching, and zoo collection, causing over 1000 deaths from the 1950s. It was thought that the drastic population decline was likely to impose a severe impact on population viability. Here, based on temporal genotyping of individuals, we show that this rapid decline did not significantly reduce the overall effective population size and genetic variation of this species, or of the two focal populations (Minshan and Qionglai) that declined the most. These results are contrary to previously assumptions, probably because the population decline has not produced the expected negative impact due to the short time scale involved (at most 10 generations), or because previous surveys underestimated the population size at the time of decline. However, if present-day habitat fragmentation and limited migration of giant pandas remains, we predict a loss of genetic diversity across the giant pandas' range in the near future. Thus, our findings highlight the substantial resilience of this species when facing demographic and environmental stochasticity, but key conservation strategies, such as enhancing habitat connectivity and habitat restoration should be immediately implemented to retain the extant genetic variation and maintain long-term evolutionary potential of this endangered species. © 2013 by the Ecological Society of America.

Zhu L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang S.,China Wildlife Conservation Association | Gu X.,Wildlife Conservation Division | Wei F.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Understanding population history and genetic structure are key drivers of ecological research. Here, we studied two highly fragmented and isolated populations (Xiaoxiangling and Daxiangling) of giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) at the extreme southwestern edge of their distribution. This area also contains the Dadu River, national road 108 and various human infrastructure and development, providing an ideal region in which we can identify the effects of different barriers on animal movements. We used partial mitochondrial control region (mtDNA) and nine microsatellite loci (nuclear DNA) data derived from 192 faecal and one blood sample collected from the wild. We found 136 genotypes corresponding to 53 unique multilocus genotypes and eight unique control region haplotypes (653 bp). Significant genetic boundaries correlated spatially with the Dadu River (K = 2). We estimate that a major divergence took place between these populations 26 000 years bp, at around the similar time the rock surface of valley bottom formed in Dadu River. The national road has resulted in further recent population differentiation (Pairwise FS on mtDNA and nuclear DNA) so that in effect, four smaller sub-populations now exist. Promisingly, we identified two possible first-generation migrants and their migration paths, and recommended the immediate construction of a number of corridors. Fortunately, the Chinese government has accepted our advice and is now planning corridor construction. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Zhu L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhan X.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Meng T.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhang S.,China Wildlife Conservation Association | Wei F.,CAS Institute of Zoology
BMC Genetics | Year: 2010

Background: Gene flow maintains genetic diversity within a species and is influenced by individual behavior and the geographical features of the species' habitat. Here, we have characterized the geographical distribution of genetic patterns in giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) living in four isolated patches of the Xiaoxiangling and Daxiangling Mountains. Three geographic distance definitions were used with the "isolation by distance theory": Euclidean distance (EUD), least-cost path distance (LCD) defined by food resources, and LCD defined by habitat suitability.Results: A total of 136 genotypes were obtained from 192 fecal samples and one blood sample, corresponding to 53 unique genotypes. Geographical maps plotted at high resolution using smaller neighborhood radius definitions produced large cost distances, because smaller radii include a finer level of detail in considering each pixel. Mantel tests showed that most correlation indices, particularly bamboo resources defined for different sizes of raster cell, were slightly larger than the correlations calculated for the Euclidean distance, with the exception of Patch C. We found that natural barriers might have decreased gene flow between the Xiaoxiangling and Daxiangling regions.Conclusions: Landscape features were found to partially influence gene flow in the giant panda population. This result is closely linked to the biological character and behavior of giant pandas because, as bamboo feeders, individuals spend most of their lives eating bamboo or moving within the bamboo forest. Landscape-based genetic analysis suggests that gene flow will be enhanced if the connectivity between currently fragmented bamboo forests is increased. © 2010 Zhu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Li L.,Beijing Museum of Nature History | Li L.,Beijing Forestry University | Gao E.,Academy of Forest Inventory and Planning | Meng M.,China Wildlife Conservation Association | Wei X.,Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2013

Soil organic carbon plays important role in soil quality changes and terrestrial carbon cycling. However, the relationships between soil organic carbon distribution and landscape positions were not well understood, which are essential for the precisely predication of the spatial distribution of soil organic carbon and for the rational management of soil organic carbon, as well as for the assessment of the dynamics of soil organic carbon at different landscape positions at different landscape scales. China's Loess Plateau is a major region for agricultural production, and an ecological ecotone in northwest China, which suffers serious land degradation and ecologically economic problems due to the soil erosion in the region. The distribution and cycling of soil organic carbon were related not only with the maintaining and improving of soil quality in the region, but also with the response and adaptation of soil ecosystems to the future global climate change, and thus should be carefully assessed. In this study, we investigated the distribution of soil organic carbon and labile organic carbon at various landforms, that is, plateau land, sloping land, gully bottom and terrace land. We also anlyzed the differences of carbon management index at various landscape positions. The objectives were to establish the relationships between soil organic carbon and the landscape positions in a gully watershed of the Loess Plateau, and to understand how the labile organic carbon and carbon pool management index respond to the landscape positions. The results showed that soil organic carbon and labile organic carbon in the small watershed of the Loess Plateau have variance coefficients ranging from 32% to 70%, indicating medium to high variation. The highest and lowest of total and labile organic carbon were observed in plateau land and gully bottom, respectively. Additionally, total and labile organic carbon decreased with soil depth and the most decrease was tested in high labile organic carbon fraction. The carbon management index in this study can sensitively indicate the response of soil organic carbon to landforms. Among the 3 labile organic carbon fractions, the middle labile organic carbon based carbon management index present the best indication for carbon along soil profile. Our results indicate that the effects of landform on soil organic carbon can partly explain the regional distribution of soil organic carbon in the Loess Plateau.

News Article | February 22, 2017

Say bye-bye to Bao Bao! The 3-year-old giant panda has left the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and is flying on a special FedEx aircraft to China. As part of an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all pandas born in the United States must return to China before they are 4 years old.

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