Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (2): 158-170.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017321

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Diversity and endemism of ungulates on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Evolution and conservation

Zhigang Jiang1,2,*(), Lili Li1,2,3, Yiming Hu1,2, Huijian Hu4, Chunwang Li1,2, Xiaoge Ping1,2, Zhenhua Luo5   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
    4 Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, Guangzhou 510260
    5 School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079
  • Received:2017-12-04 Accepted:2018-02-07 Online:2018-04-02 Published:2018-05-05
  • Contact: Jiang Zhigang
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is a unique physical geographical unit, rich in habitat types and species, and a hot spot in biodiversity and global environmental change research. Unique fauna evolves on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Among these wild animals are the endemic hoofed animals which possess unique characteristics, such as Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii), wild yak (Bos mutus), Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), Przewalski’s gazelle (P. przewalskii), and white-lipped deer (Przewalskium albirostris). In this study, we explored the following questions: How many ungulate species are there on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau? How many endemic ungulate species are there? What is the distribution pattern of these species? What is the status of their survival? What is their conservation status? We firstly identified the geographic boundaries of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. On the plateau, there are 28 ungulate species, 10 of which are endemic to the plateau. The ungulates of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau account for 42% of China’s extant ungulate species whereas the density of the hoofed species per unit area on the plateau is 62% higher than that of the whole country. However, the distribution of ungulate species on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is uneven, and shows a pattern with low species density in the western region but high species density in the eastern part of the plateau, in contrast to the high species density of the endemic ungulates in the hinterland of the plateau. However, the ratio of threatened ungulates on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is high, among them, 71% of the ungulates are threatened species, 54% are included in CITES Appendix I or II. The Red List Index of ungulate species on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau has continued to decline from 1998 to 2015, and this trend is compounded and worsened by the trend of global change, indicating that the living status of ungulates on the plateau is continuously deteriorating. Through four decades of conservation in the country, some important populations and habitats of the ungulates on the plateau are not protected by nature reserves and the newly established the Three-River-Source National Park. Therefore, to achieve the win-win goal of human social, and economic development and nature conservation on the plateau, we should manage the grassland ecosystems sustainably, save wildlife populations and habitats, and protect biodiversity on the plateau.

Key words: Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, evolution, fauna, global change, diversity, endemism, Pan Third Pole, One-Belt-One-Road