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Assessment of giant panda habitat in the Daxiangling Mountain Range, Sichuan, China

Weihua Xu1, Zhiyun Ouyang1*, Zeyin Jiang2, Hua Zheng1, Jianguo Liu3   

  1. 1 Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085
    2 Sichuan Xuebaoding Nature Reserve, Pingwu 622550
    3 Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA
  • Received:2005-09-08 Online:2006-05-20
  • Zhiyun Ouyang

The status of giant panda habitat is related directly to the panda’s survival and breeding. Based on field surveys and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS), we studied the distribution, quality, spatial pattern, and conservation status of giant panda habitat in the Daxiangling Moun-tains, Sichuan. We selected altitude, slope, vegetation type, bamboo distribution, traffic, and residential area as evaluating criteria. Remote Sensing data showed that deciduous and conifer forest, which were closely as-sociated with giant panda habitat, occupied the largest area of 344,970 hm2 , accounting for 58.4% of the total study area, while shrub land occupied 18.4% and other vegetation types 23.2%. A comprehensive evaluation showed that the potential habitat in the Daxiangling Mountains was 118,749 hm2. However, much of the habitat was affected by exploitation of forest, mining, traffic, and agricultural activities, so that only 93,115 hm2 remained suitable. Moreover, the remaining habitat was separated into two fragments by roads, which caused failure of exchange between Yinghe Panda Group and Wawushan Panda Group. In total, the current nature reserve has protected only 28.0% of the entire habitat. For effective protection of giant pandas in this area, three aspects should be strengthened: (1) extending boundaries of the nature reserve to protect most of the giant panda habitat; (2) improving dispersal between giant panda populations through reforestation; and (3) at the altitudes of 1,800–2,700 m, controlling human activities to decrease impacts on giant panda habitat.

Key words: Coptis teeta, Gaoligong Mountains, ethnobotany, Lisu people, agroforestry, conservation

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