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Table of Content
    Volume 23 Issue 6
    20 November 2015

    Floral traits are predicted to diverge in a species due to different selective forces acting along ecological gradients. Li et al. studied the variation in floral traits of distylous Primula poissonii (Primulaceae) along geographic gradients in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces (for details see pages 747–758 of this issue). The picture shows that Apria bieti (Pieridae) is visiting P. poissonii. (Photographed by Haidong Li)

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    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  0-0. 
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    Orginal Article
    Development of foreign ecological protected areas and linkages to ecological protection redline delineation and management in China
    Dong Liu, Naifeng Lin, Changxin Zou, Guangyong You
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  708-715.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015131
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    Ecological protection redline (EPR) is a new concept recently put forward in the Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China and the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Policy regarding the implementation of protection is strictest in EPR areas. Although there was no EPR worldwide previously, most countries had established protected areas, a similar practice to EPR, in natural or near natural areas, aiming at protecting species, habitats and ecosystems. In this paper, we summarize the ecological protection systems and their management practice executed by IUCN and in other foreign countries (USA, EU, Russia, Japan, etc.) based on relevant literature. Ecological protection areas range from 5% to 40% for most countries. In these countries, a specific management system is either governed by a special protection management department or a multi-sectoral management division. Different management and control measures are decided according to the human activity intensities. Based on gap analysis research in China’s presently protected areas and problems in classification management of protected areas, we suggest integrating and optimizing different types of protected areas by evalua- ting their importance and sensitivity. Land with important ecological service, biodiversity and habitat protection functions should be preferentially included in EPR. The area ratio assigned to EPR should be up to 30% of the total land area. We propose that unified supervision and management by China’s environmental protection departments should be strengthened, establishing EPR management laws and regulations, and implementing different management measures according to its classifications.

    Classification and management of ecological protection redlines in China
    Changxin Zou, Lixia Wang, Junhui Liu
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  716-724.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015140
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    Ecological protection redline delineation aims to protect the natural ecological systems, which support human economic and social sustainable development, and constantly improve ecosystem services through the implementation of strict control measures. Based on the Environmental Protection Law, and related research and practices in China, we make the concept of ecological protection redlines clear, and present potential formation (including key ecological function areas redlines, ecologically sensitive or fragile areas redlines and forbidden development areas redlines). Furthermore, we confirm concrete forms of all kinds of redlines. Key ecological function area redlines are divided into land functional areas (including water source conservation areas, water and soil conservation areas, windbreak and sand-fixation areas and biodiversity maintenance areas) and ocean functional areas (including marine aquatic germplasm resources areas, important coastal wetlands, special protection islands, concentrated distribution area of rare and endangered species, important fishing waters, etc.), ecological sensitive or fragile areas redlines (divided into land ecological sensitive or fragile areas, including land desertification area, soil and water losses areas , rocky desertification areas and soil salinization areas and ocean ecological sensitive or fragile areas, including coastal natural coastline, mangrove forest, important estuarine, important sandpaper coast, sand protection waters, coral reef, sea grass beds, etc.), while forbidden development areas contain nature reserves, world cultural and natural heritage sites, landscape resorts, forest parks, geological parks, wetland parks, drinking water source areas, etc. Based on the latest national regulations for ecological protection and management of redlines, we propose ideas and measures of level delineation and classification management. According to the grading management regarding ecological function protection, this could determine specific control measures, in order to provide scientific support for strengthening ecological protection, optimizing national spatial development pattern, and promoting the construction of ecological civilization.

    Location determination of ecologically vulnerable regions in China
    Junhui Liu, Changxin Zou, Jixi Gao, Su Ma, Wenjie Wang, Kun Wu, Yang Liu
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  725-732.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015147
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    Ecologically vulnerable regions in China are not only the most serious areas of environmental degradation, but also the most poverty-stricken regions. However, these regions are still undefined. Three typical factors including land desertification, soil erosion and rocky desertification were selected to establish an evaluation model of eco-environmental sensitivity by using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. We conducted a comprehensive research on eco-environmental sensitivity to reveal its spatial features in a quantitative way in China, and redefine the location of ecologically vulnerable regions integrated with the existing relevant government documents and the previous research. Results are demonstrated as follows: the extremely sensitive areas are distributed in northwestern, southwestern, southeastern parts of China and loess hilly regions; the highly sensitive areas are located in the Altai Mountains, the Tianshan Mountains, the southern part of Yinshan Mountains, the Horqin Sandy Land, the Hulun Buir Sandy Land, the western part of Chang Tang Plateau, the Hengduan Mountains and the hilly mountains regions in Southeast China. A total of 18 ecological vulnerable regions in China were defined, comprising a total area of 2.4 million km2. The name, type, area, spatial distribution and the main ecological problems of each region were characterized. The spatial distribution map of ecologically vulnerable regions in China can be used as a base map for the redline delimitation of national ecological protection.

    Delimiting protection redline of rare and endangered plants in China
    Yinbo Zhang, Jingxuan Fu, Yingli Liu, Fan Bai, Weiguo Sang
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  733-739.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015129
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    According to the items of “Technical Guide of Delimiting National Ecological Protection Redline—Ecological Function Baselines” and the status of plant protection, we discussed principles and methods of delimiting protection redline of rare and endangered plants in China. We selected rare and endangered plants according to the List of Wild Plants under State Protection as protected plants to delimit protection redline, among which first level protected plants were defined as redline key plants. Based on various data sources within the literature and specimen records, we established the attribution database and geographical distribution database of rare and endangered plants in China. On the platform of GIS, the distribution of redline protected plants was studied on the basis of high precision database. Based on the theory of conservation biology, we analyzed and evaluated the in situ protection status of redline protected plants in reserves. Further, on the basis of hotspots and GAP analysis, we identified the typical hotspots and important buffers of plant distribution within the scope of distribution. Combining land use and human interference factors, we finally delimited the overall protection redline of rare and endangered plants in China. By the detailed analysis at national scale, redline of the rare and endangered plants was determined to be 7.163 × 105 km2, which accounts for 7.45% of China’s land area. The principles, methods and scheme of delimiting plant protection redline are of great significance in accurately defining the redline of ecological security, and will provide a basis for ecological security in China.

    Ecological security pattern construction based on ecological protection redlines
    Delin Xu, Changxin Zou, Mengjia Xu, Guangyong You, Dan Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  740-746.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015132
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    Ecological protection redlines are the management and control boundary delimited by government according to law and regulations, and are the baseline of ecological safety. They include important ecological functional regions, sensitive ecotopes, and fragile ecotopes. As the concept of the ecological protection redlines has been raised as a national strategy, and the rapid development of demarcating technology and methodology, ecological protection redlines have become a core issue in the field of ecological security. Due to obvious boundary, integration, and comprehensiveness, the ecological protection redlines can be used as the basic spatial element to create a pattern of ecological security, and provide a new method for ecological space pattern construction and optimization. Based on the research progress of ecological safety patterns and the basic theories of ecological protection redlines, this paper attempts to regard the ecological protection redlines as the source area of ecological protection, and furthermore to construct the ecological corridor and strategy node, thus forming a complete ecological security pattern including patterns protecting ecological function, residential environment safety, and biodiversity maintenance. The construction of ecological security patterns based on ecological redlines can effectively protect, restore and reconstruct ecosystems, and also ensure the sustainability of important ecological services. Further emphasis should be put in the following aspects: internal relationships within process-function-pattern in ecological protection redlines, comprehensive protection of marine and land ecological safety patterns, supporting management and control measures, and the system of supervision and evaluation.

    Variation in floral traits of distylous Primula poissonii (Primulaceae) along geographic gradients
    Haidong Li, Zongxin Ren, Zhikun Wu, Kun Xu, Hong Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  747-758.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015171
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    Floral traits are predicted to diverge in a species due to different selective forces acting along ecological gradients. As elevation and latitude gradients are always indicative of drastic variation in plant communities, elevation and latitude models should indicate how natural selection has shaped some floral traits and/or how floral characteristics have adapted to local or regional conditions. The measurement of floral traits among multiple populations can be used to observe floral trait divergence along geographic gradients. Primula poissonii, a distylous species, is widely distributed in the core areas of the Hengduan Mountains in southwest China. Distyly plays an important role in inter-morph cross pollination in P. poissonii. In this study, we investigated 16 populations of P. poissonii in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. We measured eight floral traits (corolla, androecium and gynoecium) in short- and long-styled morphs of each population. Sexual organ reciprocity was estimated by calculating the spatial distribution overlap between the height of sexual organs. The spatial distribution of sexual organs was fitted by using the maximum likelihood method with a normal distribution. Measured character and sexual organ reciprocity were tested to examine the floral trait variation along geographic gradients by using linear regression models. Results showed that floral tube opening width and anther height in both morphs and stigma height in the short-styled morph displayed a positive correlation with increasing elevation; the petal length in long-styled morph flowers, the distance between the stigma and tube opening in long-styled morph, the floral tube length of short style morph, and corolla width in both morphs were decreased along elevational gradients. However, petal length of the short-styled morph, the distance between the highest sexual organs and tube opening in short-styled morph, the distance between anther and stigma in both morphs, and the floral tube length and stigma height in long-styled morph did not correlate with elevation. Furthermore, floral traits except for stigma height of short-styled morph were significantly negatively correlated with latitude gradients. In addition, floral traits vary along a longitudinal gradient. Differences in selective forces may contribute to the geographic mosaic of floral trait variation and sexual reciprocity may be maintained while the other traits differential. We prefer to conclude that floral trait divergence in P. poissonii is driven by flower visitors.

    Phylogeography of Typha laxmannii in the northeast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and adjacent areas
    Zhenjie Ding, Dan Yu, Xinwei Xu
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  759-766.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015109
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    Quaternary climatic oscillation had a significant role in the patterns of geographic distribution and genetic structure of plants occurring in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) and adjacent areas. In this study, we examined the phylogeographical structure of Typha laxmannii in the northeast QTP and adjacent areas based on 15 populations and 148 individuals using sequences of chloroplast rpl32-trnL and nuclear phytochelatin synthase gene. Two chloroplast haplotypes and eight nuclear haplotypes were found. All haplotypes were shared and no private haplotype was fixed in plateau populations. The genetic diversity of the populations in adjacent areas based on chloroplast DNA and nuclear DNA was four and two times greater than that of plateau populations, respectively. Genetic differentiation among plateau populations, which mainly existed between the eastern and western populations, was higher than that among adjacent areas. Our results indicate that the present patterns of genetic diversity and genetic structure of T. laxmannii in the northeast QTP and its adjacent areas were caused by postglacial recolonization from at least two refugia to plateau platform and a resulting founder effect.

    Effect of topography on shrub regeneration in a mixed broadleaved-Korean pine forest in the Xiaoxing’an Mountains
    Xue Zhao, Lina Xu, Guangze Jin
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  767-774.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015123
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    To explore the response of shrubs to topographic heterogeneity, 900 perennial shrub (height (H) ≥ 30 cm, diameter at breast height (DBH) < 1 cm) quadrats of 4 m2 (2 m × 2 m) were set up in a 9 ha plot in a typical mixed broadleaved-Korean pine forest in the Xiaoxing’an Mountains. All shrubs in the quadrats were tagged, measured for H and DBH, and identified to the species level. Based on census data collected in 2006, 2008, and 2010, we found that a total of 18 shrub species existed in these quadrats. Approximately 18,253, 27,383 and 23,300 individuals per hectare were found in 2006, 2008, and 2010, respectively. Topography significantly affected the distribution, mortality and recruitment of the 10 major shrub species (P < 0.05). Most shrub species preferred terrain characterized by slope degree > 6º. Aspect had less effects on the distribution of most strong shade-tolerant shrub species, but the density of the shade-intolerant species Corylus mandshurica on sunny and semi-sunny slopes was significantly higher than other aspects. For Acanthopanax senticosus, Philadelphus schrenkii, Deutzia gladata, Lonicera chrysantha, Euonymus pauciflorus, Corylus mandshurica and Lonicera praeflorens, the distribution, mortality and recruitment of shrubs with DBH < 1 cm were consistent with that of the shrubs with DBH ≥ 1 cm.

    Geographical variance of ladybird morphology and environmental correlates in China
    Mengjie Bi, Mengwei Shen, Kexin Zhou, Lingfeng Mao, Shengbin Chen, Peihao Peng
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  775-783.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015076
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    The extent shape of organisms (body size and the allometry of specific parts) is not only the base for taxonomy, but also the key functional traits for understanding the interaction between organisms and environmental conditions. The geographical variance of body size, allometry, and the underlying mechanisms are fundamental for insect biogeography, but have not been fully documented. In this paper, we compiled data on body size (body length and body width), aspect ratio (body length/body width), and distribution of ladybirds in 28 provinces in China. Meanwhile, we obtained environmental variables representing temperature and precipitation from freely available data. To explore the spatial variance and environmental correlates of body size and aspect ratio in different species groups with various trophic positions, correlation and regression analyses were performed separately on herbivorous and predaceous ladybirds. Our results show that there is evident latitudinal gradient for body size of ladybirds, i.e., body length or width increases with increasing latitude. This is consistent with Bergmann’s rule. Temperature-related variables are the main drivers of geographic variance of body size, because ladybirds usually overwinter as adults, and those with larger body size have more fat and therefore are more resistant to starvation in winter. Herbivorous ladybirds are always larger than predaceous ladybirds in terms of body length and width along the latitudinal gradients. This is due to discrepancies in food and nitrogen concentrations, with predaceous ladybirds having higher nitrogen concentrations than herbivorous ladybirds. Aspect ratio increases significantly with latitude for predaceous ladybirds, but not for herbivorous ladybirds. This may be explained by the high spatial dispersion of prey for predaceous ladybirds, which are further influenced by their own host plants. The most important environmental variables controlling geographic variance in aspect ratio of predaceous ladybirds are precipitation-related, but not temperature-related variables. This is because decreasing precipitation will lead to increasing patchiness of vegetation and subsequently prey for predaceous ladybirds. Increasing aspect ratio and accordingly flying ability is an adaptive response under these conditions. We concluded that, at the provincial scale in China, temperature-related and precipitation-related variables are the main determinant factors for body size and aspect ratio of herbivorous and predaceous ladybirds, respectively; and their magnitude of effects on body shape depends on the trophic positions.

    Phylogenetics of the Daphnia longispina complex in Tibetan lakes
    Lili Xie, Lei Xu, Qiuqi Lin, Boping Han
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  784-792.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015075
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    To understand the phylogeography of the Daphnia longispina complex (consisting of three species: Daphnia longispina, Daphnia galeata and Daphnia dentifera) in the lakes of Tibet, we amplified the mitochondria COI sequences of the Daphnia longispina complex from Tibetan lakes and compared these with sequences from GenBank (containing Daphnia longispina from Europe, Daphnia galeata from the low altitudes area of eastern China, and Daphnia dentifera from Canada). Results showed that there is significant differentiation within Daphnia longispina, Daphnia galeata and Daphnia dentifera in the lakes of Tibet. The genetic diversity within Daphnia dentifera is 0.33-2.32%, 0.33-2.74% for Daphnia galeata, and 1.33-5.50% for Daphnia longispina, representing the largest among the three species. Both Maximum Likelihood and Bayes trees based on mitochondria COI sequences showed that the Daphnia longispina complex was composed of three obvious clades, corresponding to Daphnia longispina, Daphnia galeata and Daphnia dentifera, respectively. The genetic diversity among the clades was 9.40-16.98%, according to a Kimura 2-parameter model. Haplotype network based on the mitochondria COI sequences showed that the Daphnia longispina complex was composed of three branches, corresponding to Daphnia longispina, Daphnia galeata and Daphnia dentifera, respectively. Early Chinese records showed that Daphnia longispina was widely distributed, but in this present study, Daphnia longispina only appeared in Lake Bangongcuo, and Daphnia galeata and Daphnia dentifera were more widely distributed. Because of the difficulty in morphological identification as well as the lack of molecular data in early investigations, the early records of Daphnia longispina in China were probably confused with Daphnia galeata or Daphnia dentifera.

    The responses of soil protozoan communities to Quercus aquifolioides: recovery after cutting and growing season dynamics
    Lingjuan Li, Qinli Xiong, Kaiwen Pan, Lin Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  793-801.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015121
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    The eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is fragile but offers important ecological services. Because of frequent cutting, local biodiversity is seriously threatened. This makes ecological recovery from logging become a research hot spot. Protozoa as a biological indicator in ecological restoration plays an important role. In this paper, we selected four types of Quercus aquifolioides forests (mature stands, clearcuts for secondary growth aged 20 years, 10 years and 1 year) to study the alteration of soil physicochemical properties and protozoa quantity along different months during growing season. The main results showed that: (1) The amount of flagellates in the second growth forests within 10 years (193 ind./g dry soil) and within 1 year (164 ind./g dry soil) were significantly higher than that in the mature stands (22 ind./g dry soil), while the amount of amoebae was the most in the second growth forest within 1 year (600 ind./g dry soil). Ciliate quantities increased gradually along with the recovery after clearcuts. (2) Protozoa community quantities first showed a significant increase and then decrease with months during the growing season, the abundance of flagellates reach a peak in July, the amount of amoebae was largest in August and ciliate abundance was much greater in the other three months than June. (3) The amount of protozoa closely related to soil physicochemical properties. The amount of flagellates were positively significantly correlated to pH (P = 0.019), ciliate quantity was positively correlated with amino nitrogen (P = 0.002) and C/N ratio (P = 0.022), and amoebae quantity was negatively correlated with nitrate nitrogen (P = 0.008) and C/N ratio (P = 0.016). The results suggested a great fluctuation of protozoa communities in the growing season affected by soil physicochemical properties. Ciliates communities showed a positive response, while flagellate and amoebae showed a negative response, to the recovery of Quercus aquifolioides forest after cutting.

    Analysis of change in the distances between global terrestrial protected areas and urban areas
    Bian Fan, Keming Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  802-814.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015099
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    With the expansion of urban areas and protected areas (PAs), the distance between them is strongly declining. However, this phenomenon hasn’t garnered much attention. The negative influences of urban areas on PAs have scaling effects, and with this distance decreasing, those negative influences may compound, therefore the distance between PAs and urban areas could be an important reference for measuring these negative influences. Based on spatial data of PAs, cities and urban areas, our study analyzed the changes in distance from PAs to urban areas between 1950 to 2010 at global, continental, regional and national scale. The results showed that: (1) at these four scales, the distance between PAs to urban areas were all declining. Europe (Western Europe) was the continent (region), which had the closest proximity of PAs and urban areas. On the contrary, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) was the continent (region), which had the farthest proximity of these areas. Among the top 20 PAs countries, China had the nearest proximity, as the mean distance from PAs to cities with more than 50 thousand people was merely 143.5 km. (2) According to the current situation and changes in the distances between PAs and urban areas, the top 60 PAs countries can be divided into 5 categories: (a) the proximity was very near and the speed of changes was slow, such as Western European countries; (b) the proximity was near and the speed was moderate, such as China and America; (c) the proximity was relatively near and the speed was rapid, such as Saudi Arabia and Ecuador; (d) the proximity was relatively distant and the speed was relatively slow, such as Brazil, Canada and Russia; (e) the proximity was distant and the speed was relatively rapid, such as Australia and most African countries. (3) On a global scale, more and more PAs with high biodiversity are influenced by urbanization. This study may draw attention and awareness to the changing proximity between PAs and urban areas.

    Community composition and structure of Rhododendron simsii shrubland in the Dawei Mountain, Hunan Province
    Jiaxiang Li, Xu Zhang, Zongqiang Xie, Congfa Lu, Xiangyang Tu, Yuan Xun
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  815-823.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015024
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    As one of the most important natural vegetation types of terrestrial ecosystems, shrublands play an important role in vegetation succession, biodiversity conservation and ecological balance. Based on the data collected in six Rhododendron simsii shrubland permanent plots established in the Dawei Mountain Nature Reserve in Liuyang, Hunan Province, China in 2012, we analyzed species composition and community structure. The results were as follows: There were 36 families, 50 genera and 58 vascular plant species including 19 woody species and 39 herbaceous species in the community without woody vine species. Floristic composition was dominated by the temperate elements and affected strongly by tropical and subtropical flora. The physiognomy was short and the vertical structure of the community was distinct with obvious shrub and herb layers. Most individuals of shrub species were concentrated in the 1-2 m height class. The shrubland was a type of the montane mesophilius deciduous broad-leaved thickets, belonging to the temperate deciduous broad-leaved thicket formation group. The life-form spectrum reflected the cold climatic conditions due to the high percentage of phaenerophytes and hemicryptophytes in the community. There were obvious dominant species in the community that had a high stability and uniformity. The analysis of height and base area classes of the shrub layer indicated mid-size individuals had conservative life strategies in this community, and R. simsii was a future declining population. Generally, the results suggest that R. simsii shrubland is at an early or middle successional stage and will develop into a subtropical montane evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest or evergreen broad-leaved forest.

    Principle and technical parameters for designing wildlife crossings on tourism roads in protected areas
    Xiaolin Yu, Youbing Zhou, Wenting Xu, Zongqiang Xie
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  824-829.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015022
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    Protected areas are crucially important for safeguarding biodiversity, and can provide a sustainable means for generating local community income through nature-based ecotourism. Although tourism roads are thus prerequisites for the development of protected areas, they have a negative impact on wildlife, through direct traffic casualties (mortality), and habitat loss and fragmentation, which can lead to genetic isolation. Wildlife crossings have been proven to be one of the most important ways to alleviate these negative effects. Here, we collected data by completing a literature review, and proposed that pertinence, science, sustainability and validity, and feasibility should be regarded as the four main principles for designing wildlife crossing. A better understanding of the theory regarding road ecology and conservation biology, protection regulations and management plans of protected areas, bio-ecological characteristics of key species, and wildlife habitat and topography along tourism roads may contribute enormously to determine the number, type, location, size and monitoring of wildlife crossings. Furthermore, we suggest that wildlife crossings will work more effectively when they are well designed and constructed, under continuous monitoring and regulation by the administration, and in concert with awareness of both eco-tourists and tour operators driving within the reserve. The use of these crossings may contribute significantly to improving the balance between ecotourism and the conservation of wildlife in protected areas.

    Difference and uncertainty of forest coverage estimation in China
    Yuanwei Qin, Jinwei Dong, Xiangming Xiao
    Biodiv Sci. 2015, 23 (6):  830-834.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015329
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