Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (1): 21176.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021176

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Changes of habitat pattern for goitered gazelle in the Xinjiang Kalamaili Mountain Ungulate Nature Reserve under the influence of major projects

Chen Zhang1,2,3,4, Wei Ma5, Chen Chen1,2,3,4, Muyang Wang1,2,3, Wenxuan Xu1,2,3, Weikang Yang1,2,3,*()   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011
    2 The Specimen Museum of Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011
    3 Mori Wildlife Monitoring and Experimentation Station, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mori, Xinjiang 831900
    4 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    5 Management Center of Xinjiang Kalamaili Mountain Ungulate Nature Reserve, Changji, Xinjiang 831100
  • Received:2021-05-07 Accepted:2021-08-26 Online:2022-01-20 Published:2022-01-29
  • Contact: Weikang Yang


Aims: Habitat assessment is vital in the conservation of wildlife. The goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) is an important species in the Xinjiang Kalamaili Mountain Ungulate Nature Reserve (thereafter KNR). However, their habitat is under threat because of human development and mining. The evaluation of remaining suitable habitat for the goitered gazelle can provide a scientific basis for decision-making in species conservation and management of the reserve.

Methods: Based on the distribution of goitered gazelle demonstrated through field surveys from 2005 to 2019 in the KNR, we used a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) model to test important habitat variables for habitat selection. Suitable habitat for goitered gazelle was evaluated during three distinct time-periods: (1) before mining development (2005), (2) at the peak of mining development (2011), and (3) after ecological restoration but with a highway constructed through the reserve (2019). The spatial habitat quality and distribution of goitered gazelle over the last 15 years was further analyzed using centroid transfer and a landscape pattern index.

Results: The accuracy of MaxEnt model was high and jackknife tests demonstrated the distribution and distance to water sources had the highest impact on goitered gazelle habitat selection in all three time periods. The area of potential suitable habitat fluctuated widely over the three time-periods. Prior to the mining development in 2005, suitable habitat for goitered gazelle was mainly concentrated in the middle of the reserve with large habitat patches and a low degree of habitat fragmentation. At the peak of mine development (2011), the area of highly suitable habitat had decreased by 2.39% compared to habitat in 2005. A large area of suitable habitat in the south of the reserve was lost due to mining development, and the centroid indicated that the remaining suitable habitat was restricted to the north, with smaller, fragmented habitat patches. By 2019, 3.50% of the previously suitable goitered gazelle habitat that was lost due to mining development was recovered through ecological restoration. However, compared to 2005, the recovered habitat patches were more severely dispersed in 2019. Additionally, previously highly suitable habitats were lost due to highway and railway constructions in the KNR.

Conclusion: To improve the protection of goitered gazelle within the KNP, we suggest, (1) strengthening the protection of all water sources, (2) establishing and monitoring wildlife passages, (3) limiting further traffic construction, and (4) supporting mine reclamation efforts.

Key words: Gazella subgutturosa, mining development, road construction, MaxEnt model, habitat suitability