Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 21365.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021365

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

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Spatiotemporal overlap among sympatric Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), Tibetan fox (Vulpes ferrilata) and red fox (V. vulpes) in the source region of the Yangtze River

Dong Wang1,2, Qinggaowa Sai1,2, Zihan Wang1,2, Hongxiu Zhao4, Xinming Lian1,3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Adaptation and Evolution of Plateau Biota, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3. Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Animal Ecological Genomics, Xining 810008
    4. College of Eco-Environmental Engineering, Qinghai University, Xining 810016
  • Received:2021-09-10 Accepted:2021-12-29 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-01-13
  • Contact: Xinming Lian


Aim: Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), Tibetan fox (Vulpes ferrilata) and red fox (V. vulpes) are small sympatric carnivores inhabiting the Sanjiangyuan region on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The spatiotemporal overlaps between these species were analyzed in this study.
Methods: From June 2014 to September 2019, we set up 208 infrared cameras along the Tuotuo River and the Tongtian River in the source region of the Yangtze River to collect the daily activity rhythm and spatial distribution data of three carnivores. The spatial overlap coefficient was used to evaluate spatial niche differentiation and the kernel density estimation method was utilized to evaluate daily activity rhythm. Then, the overlap coefficient of rhythms was applied to analyze the temporal niche differentiation among the three carnivores.
Results: The spatial overlap coefficients between Pallas’s cat and Tibetan fox, Pallas’s cat and red fox, and Tibetan fox and red fox were 0.25, 0.48 and 0.17, respectively. This indicated that there were differences in space utilization among the three carnivores. The results of daily activity rhythm demonstrated that Pallas’s cats and Tibetan foxes displayed diurnal behavioral patterns and red foxes were primarily nocturnal. The overlap coefficients of daily activity rhythms of Pallas’s cats, Tibetan foxes, and red foxes between the cold and warm seasons were 0.83, 0.78 and 0.88, respectively. Between any two species, the highest overlap coefficient (0.84) of daily activity rhythm was between the Pallas’s cats and Tibetan foxes, and the lowest overlap coefficient (0.48) was between the Tibetan foxes and red foxes. A lower coefficient meant more significant temporal niche differentiation. Additionally, the overlap coefficients of daily activity rhythm between the two species were smaller in the warm season than those in the cold season.
Conclusion: In the source region of the Yangtze River, the three small sympatric carnivores could reduce interference and competition through spatial or/and temporal niche differentiation and thus achieve coexistence.

Key words: the source region of the Yangtze River, Pallas’s cat, Tibetan fox, red fox, infrared camera, spatiotemporal overlap, difference in resource utilization