Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (2): 22491.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022491

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Avian and mammal diversities and their altitudinal and seasonal distribution patterns in Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, China

Xiangying Shi1,2, Xueyang Li3, Chunyue Wei1, Ge Sun4, Zhen Liu5, Xiang Zhao1, Jiading Zhou1, Jian Fan1, Cheng Li6,*(), Zhi Lü1,3,*()   

  1. 1. Shan Shui Conservation Center, Beijing 100871
    2. National School of Development, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    3. School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    4. Ecology and Nature Conservation Institute, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
    5. Forestry and Grassland Bureau of Medog County, Linzhi, Tibet 860700
    6. Xizijiang Conservation Center, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518112


Aims: Due to its altitude and limited human development, the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area boasts high degree of biodiversity and intact ecosystems. These conditions, have been favorable to the study and discovery of new species in recent years. In this study, we present the results of a comprehensive camera trap survey method implemented throughout the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area that shows the distribution patterns of the surveyed species.

Methods: From October 2020 to November 2021, infrared remote cameras were set in the Medog County, Bomi County, and Milin County of Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area to determine degree of biodiversity. Camera traps were placed in 116 sites in seven monitoring areas with different altitudes ranging from 646 m to 4,360 m. With a total survey effort of 24,741 camera days, 12,010 independent detections were obtained and relative abundance index (RAI) were calculated. Shannon-Wiener diversity index in different altitude bins and Pianka index were used to analyze the species altitudinal distribution. Seasonal distribution patterns of dry season (October 2020 to March 2021) and rainy season (April 2021 to September 2021) were also compared using seasonal RAI at different camera trap sites.

Results: In total, 37 mammal species, which belong to 4 orders and 14 families, and 99 bird species, which belong to 9 orders and 28 families, were identified. Of these, 51 of the identified species were classified as State Key Protected Species. Ten species were documented with the use of camera for the first time in Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area. These species were the forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii), alpine musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Asian badger (Meles leucurus), Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica), grey-headed flying squirrel (Petaurista caniceps), particolored flying squirrel (Hylopetes alboniger), Chinese giant flying squirrel (Petaurista xanthotis), Sclater’s monal (Lophophorus sclateri) and Blyth’s tragopan (Tragopan blythii). Species like the dhole (Cuon alpinus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) had higher RAI during the dry season than in the rainy season.

Conclusion: This study reveals high degree of biodiversity in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area, with high heterogeneity of the altitudinal and seasonal distribution pattern of carnivore and ungulates. The result of this survey provides a biodiversity baseline and a scientific basis for the protection and management of the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon area.

Key words: Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, camera trap, biodiversity