Range-wide evaluation of wildlife habitat change: A demonstration using Giant Pandas

Author(s):

Hongbo Yang, Andrés Viña, Ying Tang, Jindong Zhang, Fang Wang, Zhiqiang Zhao, Jianguo Liu

Journal or Book Title: Biological Conservation

Keywords: Giant panda; Habitat modeling; Maxent; MODIS; Wildlife conservation

Volume/Issue: 213

Page Number(s): 203-209

Year Published: 2017

Abstract:

Information on wildlife habitat distribution and change is crucial for the design and evaluation of conservation efforts. While habitat distribution has been evaluated for many species, information on habitat change is often unclear, particularly across entire geographic ranges. Here we use the iconic giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) as a model species and present an advanced approach to evaluate its habitat change across an entire geographic range through the integration of time-series satellite imagery and field data. Our results show that despite a few areas showing habitat degradation, both the overall habitat suitability and habitat area increased between the early 2000s and the early 2010s.

Our results also indicate that conservation efforts in China have achieved success beyond the boundaries of nature reserves since panda habitat outside nature reserves shows a higher proportional growth than inside the reserves. Despite these promising trends, we found habitat fragmentation remains a threat to the species' long-term survival. These results provide valuable information to assess the appropriateness of recent decision by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that down-listed the giant panda from endangered to vulnerable species while laying a good foundation for the design of future conservation efforts. The approach described here may also be easily implemented for evaluating range-wide habitat change for many other species around the world and thus help achieve biodiversity conservation objectives such as those set by the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.07.010

Type of Publication: Journal Article

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