Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (3): 22363.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022363

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Development status and document analysis: A review on terrestrial vertebrate field surveys in China

Zhenghao Wu1,2,3, Zhifeng Ding2, Zhixin Zhou2, Jianchao Liang2, Zhuoting Wang2,4, Yaning Zhang2,5, Yiming Hu2,*(), Huijian Hu2,*()   

  1. 1 South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    2 Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Institute of Zoology, Guangdong Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510260
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4 College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642
    5 College of Life Sciences, China Jiliang University, Hangzhou 310018
  • Received:2022-06-30 Accepted:2022-11-15 Online:2023-03-20 Published:2023-03-20
  • Contact: Yiming Hu,Huijian Hu


Aim: To understand the history and contemporary status of terrestrial vertebrate diversity surveys in China by analyzing the existing problems and suggesting the corresponding solutions.

Method: We searched publications on terrestrial vertebrate field surveys from CNKI Database, Web of Science Core Collection Database and Duxiu Scholar Database with “mammals” “avian” “birds” “reptilians” “amphibians” “survey” “monitor” “new species” “new records” “animal resources” and “species diversity” as keywords. We reviewed the surveys on the terrestrial vertebrates since 1949 in China. We analyzed and compared the distribution of surveys among provinces and biodiversity hotspots, as well as the survey methods and techniques used.

Review Results: Compared with the surveys of mammals, amphibians and reptiles in China, surveys of birds appeared most (70.26% of all publications considered). The terrestrial vertebrate field surveys in Sichuan Province (285 publications) and Yunnan Province (260 publications) were more extensive in coverage than those in other regions. The number of surveys was different in the four biodiversity hotspots. The Indo-Burma hotspot (348 publications) and “Mountains of Southwest China” (324 publications) had more publications, and “Mountains of Central Asia” (71 publications) and “Himalaya” (66 publications) had fewer publications. The common methods on terrestrial vertebrate diversity surveys were: the line transect method, the point sampling method, the quadrat sampling method and the direct count method. The line transect method was the most frequently used in all the application scenarios (e.g., alpine tundra, farmland, city, etc.). Observation, capture, and camera traps were the most widely used sampling techniques. The observation sampling technique was the most frequently used in all application scenarios (e.g., city, wetland, grassland, etc.). At present, terrestrial vertebrate field surveys have made a lot of progress, including the development of new species data collection methods and identification techniques (e.g. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in the search of large mammals and mixed-waterbirds, satellite tracking technology in the search of migratory birds, etc.), and the improvement of survey methods and data management in the era of “big data”, among others.

Going Forward: In the future, we should broaden the application of new species data collection methods and identification techniques, and explore new techniques for terrestrial vertebrate surveys. Furthermore, we should improve the population data analysis and the survey management system based on “big data” which is prevalent. Lastly, in addition to developing biodiversity protection measures, the results of terrestrial vertebrate surveys should be oriented to the public, and in doing this, the general public shall gain interest in biodiversity protection.

Key words: terrestrial vertebrate, field survey, survey method, technique, biodiversity hotspot