Biodiversity Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (4): 401-411.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019023

• Special Feature: Altay Animal Diversity •     Next Article

Avian species census, richness patterns and faunal composition in the Altay Region, China

Na Li1, 2, Chenchen Ding1, 2, Dandan Cao1, 2, Hongjun Chu3, 4, Yingjie Qi3, Chunwang Li1, 2, Xiaoge Ping1, Yuehua Sun1, 2, Zhigang Jiang1, 2, *()   

  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 Kalamaili Mountains Ungulate Nature Reserve, Altay, Xinjiang 836500
    4 College of Resource and Environment Sciences, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046
  • Received:2019-01-28 Accepted:2019-06-25 Online:2020-06-15
  • Zhigang Jiang E-mail:jiangzg@ioz.ac.cn

The Altay Region in China is located in North Xinjiang, in the border region of China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The region contains the Altai Mountains and the desert and riparian landscapes south of them, which constitutes the Altai-Sayan biodiversity hotspot and one of the Global 200 Biodiversity Ecoregions. Being composed of diverse habitat types, the Atlay region harbors a rich avian fauna. Though there are several field studies on a few avian species in the Altay Region, few studies have focused on broad-scale species diversity and distribution patterns across different habitats and landscapes. Thus, we completed a comprehensive census across various landscapes and habitats in the region. In this study, we recorded bird species in different types of habitats on the southern slope of the Altai Mountains and the plains area south of the Altay Region from 2013 to 2016. We also collected information from the literature and local citizen science records. The resulting bird species inventory allowed us to use MaxEnt models to predict distributions and diversity patterns of 77 bird species in the Altay Region. Four classes of environmental predictor variables, i.e. climatic factors, land cover type, human footprint index and terrain were incorporated into the models. We predicted all species’ distribution patterns and added all species’ distribution layers together to determine broad-scale diversity patterns. In total, 19 orders, 55 families, 149 genera and 344 bird species were represented in the Altay Region of China. Along the vertical vegetation belts, there were 24 species in high mountain-bare rock belt; 35 in alpine meadows; 172 in mountain forest belt; 130 in brush land in low mountains; 84 in desert belt; 173 in riparian belt; and an additional 92 species in wetland and water areas. In the Altay Region, Palearctic type birds dominated the avian fauna with 170 species (49.4%) and followed by widespread northern species (93 species; 27.0%). The Altai Mountains belonged to Palearctic Realm, Europe-Siberia Sub-realm, Altai-Sayan Region and Altai Sub-zoogeographical Region, while the plain areas belonged to Palearctic Realm, Central Asia Sub-realm, Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang Region and West Desert Subregion. The MaxEnt models predicted high species diversity in the riparian, plains, and middle and lower montane areas, congruent with previous field data. Protecting tall trees and young saplings and shrubs through eco-friendly economic development strategies and preventing habitat fragmentation will help maintain high species richness in the Altay Region and the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

Key words: Altay Region, Altai Mountains, birds, habitat types, fauna, species richness

Fig. 1

Transect lines and bird sample points in Altay Region, China"

Fig. 2

Distribution patterns of birds in the Altai Mountains (a) and the plain areas (b) in the south of the Altai Mountains. U, Palearctic Type; O, Widespread Type; C, Holarctic Type; D, Central Asia Type; M, Northeast China Type; P, Highland Type; W, Oriental Type; E, Monsoon Region Type; H, Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains Type."

Fig. 3

Bird species richness in habitat types along elevation gradients in Altay Region, China"

Fig. 4

Bird species diversity distribution pattern in Altay Region, China"

Table 1

Percent contribution of each environmental variable in predicting bird’s distribution"

环境因子 Environmental factors 环境因子描述 Description of environmental factors 贡献百分比 Percent contribution (%)
LCT 土地覆被类型 Land cover type 23.17
HFI 人类足迹指数 Human footprint index 19.73
Altitude 海拔 Elevation 8.91
Slope 坡度 Slope 6.75
Bio15 降水量变异系数 Variation coefficient of precipitation 4.41
Bio2 昼夜温差月均值 Monthly mean of diurnal temperature range 3.62
Bio12 年均降水量 Average annual precipitation 3.55
Bio14 最干月降水量 Precipitation of driest month 3.14
Bio1 年均温 Annual average temperature 2.97
Bio9 最旱季均温 Mean temperature of driest quarter 2.87
Aspect 坡向 Aspect 2.26
Bio3 等温线 Isothermality 2.21
Bio6 最冷月最低温 Min temperature of coldest month 1.89
Bio16 最湿季降水量 Precipitation of wettest quarter 1.83
Bio8 最湿季均温 Mean temperature of wettest quarter 1.78
Bio19 最冷季降水 Precipitation of coldest quarter 1.56
Bio4 季节温度变化 Variation of temperature seasonality 1.54
Bio11 最冷季均温 Mean temperature of coldest quarter 1.45
Bio18 最暖季降水 Precipitation of warmest quarter 1.38
Bio10 最暖季均温 Mean temperature of warmest quarter 1.34
Bio13 最湿月降水量 Precipitation of wettest month 0.99
Bio7 气温年较差 Range of annual temperature 0.92
Bio17 最旱季降水量 Precipitation of driest quarter 0.77
Bio5 最暖月最高温 Max temperature of warmest month 0.63
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