Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology

Harbin, China

Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology

Harbin, China
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Gao H.,Northeast Forestry University | Teng L.W.,Northeast Forestry University | Teng L.W.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Wang Y.,Northeast Forestry University | And 3 more authors.
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2017

Cervus alashanicus only occurs in the Helan Mountains. Evaluating the habitat suitability of Cervus alashanicus is the premise and foundation of effective protection for this population. We used a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) model to predict habitat suitability for Cervus alashanicus in the Helan Mountains. The data needed in this research, included occurrence records of Cervus alashanicus and environmental factors. We collected 86 GPS coordinates for Cervus alashanicus occurrance obtained by line transect surveys and patrol data from the Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve from 2013 to 2014. Environmental factors were grouped into three categories, including topographic data (elevation, slope, and aspect) extracted from the Digital Elevation Model (DEM), six vegetation factors extracted from the Thematic Mapper (TM) image of the Helan Mountains (2007), and water resources and human interference factors, including roads, mining, and forest protection points extracted from the 1:50000 vector maps of the Helan Mountains. GIS was used to produce the data needed in the model. The distribution of Cervus alashanicus was predicted using the model of MaxEnt. The area under the curve (AUC) values of a Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve was used to assess the accuracy of the MaxEnt model, and the Youden Index was applied to determine the threshold value for habitat classification in the MaxEnt model. The simulated habitat was divided into two categories, including suitable and unsuitable habitat using a threshold value of 0.31. Finally, the distribution map of habitat suitability of Cervus alashanicus in the Helan Mountains was generated from the data and software, and the AUC value for training data and test data were 0.956 and 0.898 respectively, which indicated that the result of the assessment was excellent. The results showed that suitable habitat for Cervus alashanicus was primarily distributed in the central and southern regions of the Ningxia Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve (eastern part) and to a lesser extent in the northern region of the Inner? Mongolia Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve (western part), with a total area of 667.87 km2, accounting for 18.2% of the total assessment area. Most northern areas of Helan Mountains were unsuitable habitat for Cervus alashanicus because of lower precipitation and more mining. Jackknife tests and the contribution of environmental variables indicated that mining (30.4%), slope (26%), altitude (10.8%), and aspect (8.4%) were the main factors affecting habitat selection of Cervus alashanicus, followed by the forest protection points (5.7%), grasslands (4.2%), roads (4.2%), shrubs (4%), alpine meadows (3.8%), broad?leaved forests (1.3%), and water resources (0.9%). Coniferous forest and desert had little effect on the habitat selection of Cervus alashanicus. The response curves showed that habitat suitability increased gradually with the increase of distance from mine and road, and decreased when the slop was more than 30°. Results from our study suggested that mining was the most serious human interference for the Cervus alashanicus. Managers need to take more regulatory actions to protect the suitable habitat areas of Cervus alashanicus in order to promote the conservation of this population. © 2017, Ecological Society of China. All rights reserved.

Liu Z.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Gao H.,Northeast Forestry University | Gao H.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | And 4 more authors.
Pakistan Journal of Zoology | Year: 2017

Blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) is a sexually dimorphic ungulate. In general, males are larger than females and the two sexes live in separate groups outside the breeding season. We studied the seasonal activity of blue sheep from May 2010 through August 2012 to test the activity budget hypothesis, which predicts that females spend more time on feeding and that the activity synchronization of same-sex groups is higher than for mixed-sex groups. Our results support the hypothesis. Both males and females spent most of their time on feeding and moving. Feeding behavior differed significantly by sex but moving behavior did not. Activity synchronization indices of same-sex groups were higher than for mixed-groups and were highest for male groups. The activity budget hypothesis of sexual segregation was supported by blue sheep behavior in the Helan Mountains. Copyright 2017 Zoological Society of Pakistan.

Hou X.-Y.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.-S.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.-S.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Teng L.-W.,Northeast Forestry University | And 2 more authors.
Chinese Journal of Ecology | Year: 2014

In recent years, many zoos have transformed their objectives from pure entertainment to public education, species conservation, and animal welfare, which were mainly accomplished by environmental enrichment. We conducted an enrichment experiment (two environmental enrichments and one feeding enrichments) of 10 captive red gorals (Naemorhedus cranbrooki) in Shanghai Zoo Breeding Center, China from November 2010 to February 2013, to analyze the effect of different forms of the enrichments on the activity budgets of red gorals. Ethograms were composed of standing, resting, moving, eating, grooming, stereotypic behavior, and other behaviors. The time on resting (P<0. 01) and stereotypic (P<0. 05) behaviors significantly decreased after adding the enrichment equipment firstly, while the time allocated for eating (P < 0. 05), moving (P<0. 01) and grooming (P<0. 01) behaviors increased dramatically, which was consistent with our expectations. Then we improved complexity of the environmental enrichment equipment (second environmental enrichment), and the time on resting behavior (P < 0.05) reduced, whereas the time allocated for moving (P<0.05) and grooming (P<0.01) behaviors increased significantly. Meanwhile, there was no significant variation in time spending on several other behaviors, which was not identical to our expectations. Resting (P = 0. 44), stereotypic (P =0. 19), and standing (P = 0. 31) behaviors did not show significant differences at the feeding enrichment and non-enrichment stages. Feeding enrichment and increasing complexity of environmental enrichment equipment helped red gorals make use of the enrichment equipment effectively. Red gorals added the time resting on the enrichment equipment from 2. 07% during the feeding enrichment and 1.44% during the second environmental enrichment to 12.17% and 10. 83%, respectively. After we increased the first enrichment equipment, the major activity on the equipment was standing behavior, followed by eating behavior. Nonetheless, the main activity transformed to resting behavior, and the secondary activity was standing behavior when we conducted the second enrichment equipment. Before the feeding enrichment experiment, the major activity of red gorals was standing behavior, followed by grooming behavior. During the feeding enrichment experiment, red gorals showed more time for eating behavior, and less time for standing behavior. © 2014, Editorial Board of Chinese Journal of Ecology. All rights reserved.

Li L.Y.,Northeast Forestry University | Yang H.T.,East China Normal University | Teng L.W.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Liu Z.S.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.S.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2015

The sett plays an important role in the badger habitat selection for providing a shelter to resist adverse weather, escape predators, and reproduce. In the context of rapid transformation of agriculture lands to forest plantations and increasing human development activities, understanding the badger sett habitat selection is requisite to conserve badger habitats. Nevertheless, the Asian badger sett habitat selection has rarely been studied in China. From September 2008 to August 2009, we used six randomly selected 8 km line-transects that covers the entire study area to investigate the sett habitat of Asian badger (Meles leucurus) in Xinfeng Forest Farm of angzheng Forestry Bureau, Heilongjiang Province, China. We established a plot of 10 × 10 square meters that centers at each of the detected setts and measured 18 variables of the sett habitat (vegetation type, elevation, dominant tree species, tree density, tree height, average diameter at breast height of the nearest tree, distance to the nearest tree, canopy closure, shrub density, shrub height, instance to the nearest shrub, herbage coverage, distance to water resource, distance to cropland, distance to human disturbance, slope, aspect, and slope position). It was found from a total of 55 badger setts that the average size, depth, and obliquity of setts were (27.40± 14.30) cm, 84.18±44.07) cm, and (26.36±18.2) degree, respectively. We also used equal number of plots of 10 × 10 square meters (i. e. 55) as controls to collect the same variables of the sett habitat, which were randomly established 500 m away from the detected setts in a random direction. In this paper, the Kolmogorov Smirnov test was used to assess the normality of 14 numerical sett habitat variables. The two-tailed f-test and Mann-Whitey U test were used to compare the sett habitat variables measured from both the sett and control plots. The results reveal that the Asian badger prefers the setts with lower canopy closure and herbage coverage, and higher shrub density as well as with moderate slope, southern aspect, and middle position, closer to shrubs, water, and cropland, far away from trees and human disturbance. Resource selection functions (RSFs) are widely used approach of mathematical modeling for the analysis of presence-absence data to deduce wildlife-habitat relationships. However, the generation of RSFs may be hampered by a wild animal's population size and density. In this study, a log-linear model was fitted to the four sett habitat variables; 246.980-1.059× herbage coverage-0.703×distance to water resource- 1.403×slope degree-45.005×aspect. The overall classification accuracy of the model was approximately 93.9% to distinguish he sett habitat from the control habitat. Partly as a result of policies, the Xinfeng Forest Farm is experiencing an increase in agricultural conversion, conversion to tree plantations, and improvement of the road network. These changes may have negative impacts on badgers. Hence, understanding sett habitat selection would enhance conservation of Asian badgers and provide basic data to further guide ecological study. © 2014, Ecological Society of China. All rights reserved.

Zhao C.,Northeast Forestry University | Su Y.,Helan Mountains National Nature Reserve of Inner Mongolia | Liu Z.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | And 3 more authors.
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2012

The yak (Bos grunniens), sometimes called "the boat of the plateau", is an endemic species of the Qinghai- Tibet Plateau, famous for its resistance to cold and importance as a form of transport. The total number of adults may be close to 10,000 because the total population was estimated to be around 15,000 in 1995. Nevertheless, the species was listed as "Vulnerable" in the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Animals because it is inferred that it has declined by over 30% over the last 30 years. Poaching, including commercial poaching for meat, has been the most serious threat to wild yaks. The species was listed on CITES Appendix I. Wild yaks have been protected in China since 1962, and are currently listed as a Class I protected animal, which means that they are fully protected by government law. In China, wild yaks are found in a number of large nature reserves, including the Arjin Shan, Chang Tang, Kekexili, Sanjiangyuan, and Yanchiwan Nature Reserves, although none of these reserves provide complete protection from habitat loss or occasional poaching. The yak population in the Helan Mountains is a reintroduced population from Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and is only distributed in the Halawu Valleys and the surrounding areas, in the Helan Mountain Reserve in Inner Mongolia. Because their habitat selection had not been previously studied, we conducted surveys from December 2009 to January 2010 and from April to May 2010 to study yak habitat selection in winter and spring. Twenty line transects were established along seven valleys. We identified a total number of 103 used plots in winter and 129 in spring. To provide comparison plots for the analysis of habitat selections, we surveyed 188 randomly placed plots in winter and 207 randomly placed plots in spring by systematically placing transects in areas with no obvious evidence of yak use. Data on 18 topographic and biological variables were collected in each plot. In winter, yaks preferred montane coniferous forest, lower altitude (<2000 m), habitat dominated by Ulmus glaucescens, more gentle slopes (<10°), sites closer to the foot of the mountain, areas distant from water resource (>1200 m), moderate distance from human disturbance (2000-4000 m) and abundant hiding cover (>70%). In spring, yak preferred subalpine shrubland and meadow, higher altitude (>3000 m), lower tree density (<1 tree/100 m 2), lower tree height (<3 m), greater distances from trees (>3 m), higher shrub density (>40 trees/100 m 2), short distance to shrub (<1 m) and higher vegetation coverage (>70%). Habitat selection of the yak showed significant differences in vegetation type, landform feature, dominant tree species, shrub type, position on mountain (e. g. top or base), slope direction, distance from human disturbance and distance from water resource between winter and spring. Results of principal components analysis indicated that the first principal component axis accounted for 21. 10% of the total variance in habitat use during winter, with the highest correlation coefficient for distance to nearest tree, dominant tree species, tree height, tree density. In spring, the first principal components axis accounted for 31. 247% of the variance, with highest correlation coefficient for vegetation type, altitude, landform feature, shrub density. Compared to other migrating yak populations distributed in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, there were significant differences in yak habitat selection between different seasons in the Helan Mountains. Yaks are acclimatized to the particular geography and climate in the Helan Mountains.

Liu Z.,Northeast Forestry University | Liu Z.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Gao H.,Northeast Forestry University | Teng L.,Northeast Forestry University | And 3 more authors.
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2013

Habitat evaluation has an important significance for management of wildlife populations and conservation planning. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and abundant landscape-level data provide new opportunities for biologists to evaluate wildlife habitat quality. Maximum Entropy (MAXENT) is a recently introduced modeling technique, achieving high predictive accuracy and enjoying several additional attractive properties. With the purpose of predicting habitat for blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) in the Helan Mountain Range, we collected the occurrence records for this species and the environmental factors, the occurrence records were collected from the study area from 2010 to 2011, and the date of environmental factors were extracted from the Thematic Mapper (TM) image of Helan Mountain in 2007. The method relies on the combined use of GIS and Maximum Entropy (MAXENT) model in this research. GIS was used to produce the data needed in the model, MAXENT can model species geographic distributions with presence-only data, and is suitable for the research because absence data are not available for blue sheep. A map indicated the distribution of habitat suitability of blue sheep in Helan Mountain generated from the data and software. In this paper, the method of Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to assess the accuracy of MAXENT model, the area under ROC curve (AUC) of the model was 0. 915, indicating that the result of assessment was excellent, and the results showed the relationships between the distribution of blue sheep and the environmental factors, the result of Jackknife test indicated that the mining, slope, altitude and road were the main factors influencing habitat selection of blue sheep. Along with the increase of slope, distance from mine and road, the habitat suitability increased gradually, and habitat suitability decreased gradually with the increasing distance from water. Suitable habitat was mainly distributed in southwest of Ningxia Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve (east part) and lesser distributed in the Inner-Mongolia Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve (west part), with the total area of 1 006.9km2, accounting for 28% of the total assessment area. Blue sheep preferred to use montane savanna dominated and the rugged slopes at elevations of 1 500-2 300 m. There were two factors interfered in achieving accurate results, one was difficult to reach occurrence points for the steep terrain, and the other was that we could not get the information of traffic flow on every road. During the research, we reduced the error by recording the nearest position to the target point and choosing the main road on the maps. The results showed that the most serious human interferences were mining and road, more regulatory actions are needed to be taken in those aspects to improve the habitat's quality as well as promote the progress of the population.

Li N.,Harbin University | Liu Z.,Harbin University | Liu Z.,Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology | Wang Z.,East China Normal University | Huang L.,Pingluo Animal Health Inspection Institute of Ningxia
Shengtai Xuebao/ Acta Ecologica Sinica | Year: 2012

Blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are endemic to the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain regions. They are classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and are included in the list of the second grade nationally protected animals of China. Traditionally, blue sheep in China were classified into two subspecies, the nominate or Tibetan subspecies (P. n. nayaur) which is distributed on the Tibetan Plateau, and the Sichuan subspecies (P. n. szechuanensis) which has a widespread geographical distribution in the western and north-western areas of China. Different geographically distributed populations of the Sichuan subspecies are also found on several isolated mountains in China. Because of the lack of research data, the genetic validity and geographic characteristics of these two subspecies remain unclear. In the present study, we have sequenced the complete mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b (Cyt b) gene from tissue samples of blue sheep originating from seven distinct geographical populations (Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Xinjiang, and Tibet) covering all regions in which the sheep are distributed. Our aim was to measure the genetic divergence among these populations, and to analyze the base variation, genetic distance, and nucleotide sequence variability between the different populations. A total of 45 haplotypes from 59 cyt b gene sequences were identified. Only one of these haplotypes was shared by individuals from the Ningxia and Inner Mongolia populations. A maximum likelihood tree and a Bayesian tree were established using the Kimura2-parameter model to evaluate the genetic distance between samples from each pair of different geographical populations. We found that the genetic distances between the Tibetan populations (nominate subspecies) and the other geographical populations (Sichuan subspecies) were on average, 4. 2% (±0. 007). This value is higher than the average level of Cyt b sequence divergence among the different populations from the Sichuan subspecies and higher than the reported genetic divergence of five known Artiodactyla animals. Therefore, we propose that, based on the mitochondrial DNA Cyt b gene, the sheep that are distributed on the Tibetan plateau do indeed form a valid subspecies of blue sheep. A molecular clock calculation estimated that the two subspecies might have separated approximately 1. 05 million years ago. The average genetic distance within different geographical populations of the Sichuan subspecies (0. 033 ±0. 0111) was not significantly different from the average genetic distance (0. 042 ± 0. 007) between populations of the two subspecies (t = 1. 824, P = 0. 084). This result indicates that significant genetic divergence had occurred among populations of the Sichuan subspecies. For example, the Helan Mountain population which includes individuals from Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, and the Xinjiang population both have significant genetic divergence compared with the populations from Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai, which have a much closer genetic relationship within themselves. Phylogenetic analyses between the 45 haplotypes based on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Parsimony revealed different maternal inheritances that corresponded to different geographical distribution regions. The Gansu, Qinghai, and Sichuan populations formed a cluster, indicating a close genetic relationship between them. The Ningxia population and the Inner Mongolia population from the Helan Mountain also grouped together; the Tibetan population formed a monophyletic group. The Xinjiang population and a Tibetan population (RT1) tended to cluster together, which was sister group of the other three groups. Further studies are needed to help improve our understanding of the genetic composition and geographical characteristics of the Sichuan subspecies of blue sheep.

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