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Seattle, WA, United States

Xu F.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Ma M.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Yang W.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | Blank B.,Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Arid Land | Year: 2012

Snow leopards are one of the least known large cats, the population of which has dramatically decreased. Their habitat loss was considered the main reason for the decline during the last decade, but their habitat preferences are still not well known. In this paper, we studied the winter habitat preferences of snow leopards in the Tomur National Nature Reserve (TNNR) in Northwest China during 2004-2005. We used sign surveys and transects to study the winter habitat selection of snow leopards. The results indicated that snow leopards showed a preference for habitat variabilities in slope aspect, vegetation cover, dominant topographical features, landform ruggedness and grazing status. We found that prey availability and dominant topographical features were the most important factors that determined the winter habitat selection of snow leopards. Our results supported the idea that the habitat preferences of snow leopards are a tradeoff between suitable habitat features and avoidance of potential human interactions. Source

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