Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (9): 943-950.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019014

• Special Feature: Snow Leopards: Survey, Research and Conservation Status in China • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Defining conservation priority areas of snow leopard habitat in the Sanjiangyuan Region

Lingyun Xiao1,#,Chen Cheng1,2,##,Huawei Wan3,Dehai Zhang4,Yongcai Wang3,Tsedan 5,Peng Hou3,Juan Li6,Xin Yang7,Zhi Lü1,*(),Yuping Liu3,*()   

  1. 1 Center for Nature and Society, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Shan Shui Conservation Center, Beijing 100871
    3 Center for Satellite Application on Ecology and Environment, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Beijing 100094
    4 Management Bureau of the Three-River-Source National Park, Xining 810001
    5 Forestry Bureau of Yushu Prefecture, Yushu, Qinghai 815000
    6 Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA
    7 Sichuan Green River Environmental Protection Promotion Association, Chengdu 610041
  • Received:2019-01-18 Accepted:2019-05-23 Online:2019-09-20 Published:2019-09-25
  • Contact: Lingyun Xiao,Chen Cheng,Zhi Lü,Yuping Liu

Abstract:

To maximize species conservation outcomes and effectively allocate limited resources, the first step in conservation planning is to define conservation priority areas and migration pathways between them. Based on field survey and high-resolution satellite data, we used species distribution models, conservation planning tools and connectivity analysis tools to define the core habitat area and potential corridors for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in the Sanjiangyuan Region. With potential threats identified, we proposed differentiated conservation strategies for different parts of the Sanjiangyuan Region: (1) In the western region, snow leopard core habitats are mostly small and fragmented but with widespread migration pathways and no obvious bottlenecks. However, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a potential barrier for snow leopard populations in the western region and needs further investigation. (2) The central region contains the largest core habitat which also has highest centrality in the connectivity analysis. To maintain the function of these source populations, we recommend long-term monitoring, anti-poaching patrol and supervision on development projects for this region. (3) For the eastern region, which has the highest human density, it is important to safeguard two core habitats (Anemaqen and Nanpo Yutze) and maintain the narrow corridors in between them. The provincial highway in Gande County may be a potential barrier for snow leopard migration and deserves further monitoring. As the epicenter for snow leopard conservation in China, the habitat quality in the Sanjiangyuan Region remains good overall. The goal of snow leopard landscape conservation in Sanjiangyuan should be to maintain core source populations while keeping migration routes unblocked. Integrated space-ground monitoring approaches should be implemented in the future for assessments and early warning signs of habitat degradation for these important protected species, especially in non-protected areas in core habitat at risk for development.

Key words: snow leopard, habitat, high-resolution satellite data, conservation priority, dispersal corridor