Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (9): 951-959.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019062

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

Evaluating the potential habitat overlap and predation risk between snow leopards and free-range yaks in the Qionglai Mountains, Sichuan

Xiaoyun Shi1, 2, Xiaogang Shi3, Qiang Hu3, Tianpei Guan4, Qiang Fu5, Jian Zhang6, Meng Yao1, 2, Sheng Li1, 2, *()   

  1. 1 School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Institute of Ecology, Peking University, Beijing 100871 3 Wolong National Nature Reserve, Wenchuan, Sichuan 623004
    4 Ecological Security and Protection Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Mianyang Normal College, Mianyang, Sichuan 621000
    5 Anzihe Nature Reserve, Chongzhou, Sichuan 611230
    6 Heishuihe Nature Reserve, Dayi, Sichuan 611330
  • Received:2019-03-04 Accepted:2019-06-14 Online:2019-09-25
  • Sheng Li

Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) related to livestock predation is one of the main challenges for snow leopard conservation in China. The Qionglai Mountains are located on the southeastern edge of the snow leopard’s range, and we used the nature reserve network which transects the central Qionglai Mountains as our study area. We collected occurrence data for snow leopards and free-range yaks from camera-trapping surveys and animal fecal DNA analysis from 2014 to 2018 and then predicted the distribution of each species using species distribution models (MaxEnt). We mapped the overlapping patches of suitable habitats between snow leopards and yaks and used the extent of habitat overlapping as the indicator of potential predation risk. The results showed that, across the seven nature reserves, the predicted suitable habitat for snow leopards and yaks is 871.14 km 2 and 988.41 km 2, respectively. The overlapping habitat between the two species is 534.47 km 2, primarily distributed in the alpine meadow area in the western part of the study area, accounting for 61.35% of snow leopard’s suitable habitat. We suggest that, when developing the management plans of these nature reserves and the newly established Giant Panda National Park, managers should consider alpine grazing a key threat to wild snow leopards and give high priority to the management of high-risk areas identified in this study. Immediate actions are needed to reduce the risk of potential HWC through interdisciplinary approaches such as grazing control and alternative livelihoods in local communities.

Key words: human-wildlife conflict, grazing management, protected area management, species distribution models, camera-trapping, protected area network

Fig. 1

The nature reserve network in central Qionglai Mountains and the occurrence locations of snow leopards and yaks. 1, Miyaluo; 2, Caopo; 3, Wolong; 4, Anzihe; 5, Heishuihe; 6, Fengtongzhai; 7, Siguniangshan."

Table 1

The environmental variables used in the final models for predicting the suitable habitat of snow leopard and yak"

环境变量 Environmental variables 分类与赋值
Classification and assignment
Original resolution
来源 Source
地形 Topography
海拔 Elevation 连续变量 Continuous variable 30 m 中国科学院计算机
Geospatial Data Cloud
坡度 Slope 0°-5° (1); 5°-10° (2); 10°-20° (3);
20°-30° (4); > 30° (5)
30 m
气候 Climate
月均昼夜温差 Mean diurnal range (bio2) 连续变量 Continuous variable 30″ WorldClim
温度季节性 Temperature seasonality (bio4) 连续变量 Continuous variable
最暖月最高温 Max. temperature of the warmest month (bio5) 连续变量 Continuous variable
年温差 Temperature annual range (bio7) 连续变量 Continuous variable
最干月降水量 Precipitation of the driest month (bio14) 连续变量 Continuous variable
植被 Vegetation
归一化植被指数 Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) 连续变量 Continuous variable 250 m Land Processes
Distributed Active
Archive Center
地被类型 Land cover 针叶林 Coniferous forest (1)
阔叶林 Broad-leaved forest (2)
灌丛 Shrub (3)
草地 Grassland (4)
裸岩 Bare rock (5)
其他 Others (6)
500 m

Table 2

Distribution of suitable habitats of snow leopard and yak and their overlapping region in the seven nature reserves in central Qionglai Mountains"

Nature reserve
Area (km2)
Suitable habitat area of
snow leopard (km2)
Suitable habitat area
of yak (km2)
Area of overlapping
habitats (km2)
鞍子河 Anzihe 101 6.52 0.76 0.75
蜂桶寨 Fengtongzhai 390 52.31 49.91 41.90
黑水河 Heishuihe 318 51.51 31.11 29.55
米亚罗 Miyaluo 1,607 31.57 182.97 20.49
四姑娘山 Siguniangshan 591 138.11 215.26 90.96
草坡 Caopo 556 57.42 82.53 35.71
卧龙 Wolong 2,000 533.70 425.86 315.11
合计 Total 5,563 871.14 988.41 534.47

Fig. 2

Suitable habitats and overlapping region of snow leopards and yaks in the seven natural reserves in central Qionglai Mountains"

Table 3

Landscape measures of snow leopard’s and yak’s suitable habitats and the overlapping patches in the seven nature reserves in central Qionglai Mountains"

景观指数 Landscape index 雪豹 Snow leopard 牦牛 Yak 分布重叠区 Overlapping patches
斑块数 Number of patches 524 1,307 653
斑块密度 Patch density (ind./km2) 0.60 1.32 1.22
平均斑块面积 Mean patch size (km2) 1.65 0.76 0.82
最大斑块指数 Largest patch index (%) 33.07 7.33 11.43
斑块结合度指数 Patch cohesion index 95.75 87.68 89.04
分割指数 Segmentation index 0.86 0.98 0.97
分离度指数 Separation index 7.31 50.73 32.79
景观蔓延度指数 Contagion index 75.59 68.47 68.85
Human disturbance
边缘面积分维度 Perimeter area fractal dimension 1.37 1.43 1.39
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