Evaluating Landscape Options for Corridor Restoration between Giant Panda Reserves

Journal or Book Title: Plos ONE

Keywords: giant panda; conservation planning; movement corridor; occupancy model; camera trap

Volume/Issue: 9(8): e105086

Year Published: 2014

Abstract:

The establishment of corridors can offset the negative effects of habitat fragmentation by connecting isolated habitat patches. However, the practical value of corridor planning is minimal if corridor identification is not based on reliable quantitative information about species-environment relationships. An example of this need for quantitative information is planning for giant panda conservation. Although the species has been the focus of intense conservation efforts for decades, most corridor projects remain hypothetical due to the lack of reliable quantitative researches at an appropriate spatial scale. In this paper, we evaluated a framework for giant panda forest corridor planning. We linked our field survey data with satellite imagery, and conducted species occupancy modelling to examine the habitat use of giant panda within the potential corridor area. We then conducted least-cost and circuit models to identify potential paths of dispersal across the landscape, and compared the predicted cost under current conditions and alternative conservation management options considered during corridor planning. We found that due to giant panda's association with areas of low elevation and flat terrain, human infrastructures in the same area have resulted in corridor fragmentation. We then identified areas with high potential to function as movement corridors, and our analysis of alternative conservation scenarios showed that both forest/bamboo restoration and automobile tunnel construction would significantly improve the effectiveness of corridor, while residence relocation would not significantly improve corridor effectiveness in comparison with the current condition. The framework has general value in any conservation activities that anticipate improving habitat connectivity in human modified landscapes. Specifically, our study suggested that, in this landscape, automobile tunnels are the best means to remove current barriers to giant panda movements caused by anthropogenic interferences.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105086

Type of Publication: Journal Article

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