Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (1): 20-29.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2015177

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Suitable winter habitat for Cervus elaphus on the southern slope of the Lesser Xing’an Mountains

Wen Wu1,2, Yuehui Li1,*(), Yuanman Hu1, Long Chen1,2, Yue Li3, Zeming Li1, Zhiwen Nie1,2, Tan Chen1,2   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 College of Environmental Sciences, Liaoning University, Shenyang 110036
  • Received:2015-06-22 Accepted:2015-10-26 Online:2016-01-20 Published:2016-06-12


Abstract: In the Tieli Forestry Bureau of the Lesser Xing’an Mountains in Northeast China, we recorded a total of 79 GPS coordinates of presence traces for red deer (Cervus elaphus) during winter field investigations in November 2014 and January 2015. We grouped 19 environmental predictor variables into four classes including terrain, landscape type, vegetation structure and human disturbance, we used the MaxEnt model to predict potential suitable winter habitat distribution for red deer and determine the contribution of each environment factor to the distribution characteristics. The accuracy of our prediction models was accessed by the area under the curve (AUC) values of a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, and validation showed that the results had high average AUCs: 0.949 for training data and 0.958 for testing data. The results of a Jackknife test indicated that landscape type had the strongest influence on winter habitat suitability of red deer among the 4 class variables. Aspect, distance to road, distance to mixed forest, distance to bush-grass land, and distance to farmland appeared to be the most important parameters with contributed to the variance 27.8%, 23.9%, 19.5%, 15.3%, and 10.4%, respectively. Distance to path had an insignificant influence on red deer distribution. The Youden Index was applied to determine the threshold value for habitat classification in the MaxEnt modeling. The simulated habitat was divided into two classes including suitable (≥ threshold value) and unsuitable (< threshold value) habitat using a threshold value of 0.22. Our results showed that the area of suitable habitat was 663.49 km2 and the unsuitable habitat was 1,378.85 km2, accounting for 32% and 68% of the total area of Tieli Forestry Bureau, respectively. Areas with a high suitability of deer habitat were located mostly in the eastern mountainous region and the central forest area. The southern plain area was not suitable habitat for red deer because they were in close proximity to Tieli City. Results from our study suggest forest managers need to control human disturbance, build a diversified landscape, and protect predicted suitable habitat areas in order to better preserve the deer population.

Key words: species distribution models (SDMs), maximum entropy model, Cervus elaphus;, habitat suitability, human disturbance;, Lesser Xing’an Mountains