Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (7): 918-926.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020438

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The spatial distribution relationship between three pheasant species and mutual predator, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), on the Western Sichuan Plateau

Boyan Zou1,2, Gai Luo1,2, Bowei Zhu1,2, Jianghong Ran1,2,*(), Chao Fang3   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Bio-Resource and Eco-Environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065
    2 Sichuan Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology on Endangered Wildlife, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065
    3 Chengdu Leique Ecology & Environmental Protection Technology Co. Ltd., Chengdu 610065
  • Received:2020-11-25 Accepted:2021-03-06 Online:2021-07-20 Published:2021-03-11
  • Contact: Jianghong Ran


Aims: Multiple interspecific factors such as predator-prey dynamics and responses to different environmental variables collectively influence the spatial distribution of wildlife species. To be able to understand how these mechanisms influence community aggregation and biodiversity stability, it is crucial to understand role these factors play in impacting the formation of spatial distribution patterns among sympatric species.
Methods: Here, we investigated the spatial distribution correlations and driving factors of three pheasant species commonly seen or surveyed on the Western Sichuan Plateau. We combined a total of 682 independent photos obtained from 84 infrared camera traps from 2016 to 2018 with conditional two-species occupancy model. We then used the model operation to assess the spatial distribution relations on the camera site scale. We used this model operation for each of the three pheasant species (the buff-throated partridge Tetraophasis szechenyii, blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus, and the white eared-pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon) and their predator the red fox which can also be found over a wide area in the Western Sichuan Plateau.
Results: We had two major results from our analyses. First, under the synergic-influence of species interactions and environmental variables, the spatial distribution of the red fox and the blood pheasant (species interaction factor, SIF = 1.31 ± 0.14) was similar to that of the red fox and the buff-throated partridge (SIF = 1.42 ± 0.41). Both these pairs tended to have a great overlap within the study area. Additionally, the spatial distribution between the red fox and the blood pheasant would overlap in some large areas and then spatial distribution overlapped decreased with the increasing distance to rivers. The spatial relationship between the red fox and the buff-throated partridge were exhibited a different trend, which has been a consistently falling overlap ratio tendency since the distance from camera site to rivers began to increase. The red fox and the white eared-pheasant shared independent distribution patterns with each other (SIF = 1). Environmental variables were a strong predictor for the spatial distribution pattern of white-eared pheasants. However, environmental variables hardly had any impact on the distribution strategy for the red fox. The second major result was that the detection probabilities for all three pheasant species was associated with the synergic-influence of species interactions. The presence of red fox practically reduced the detection probability for all three pheasant species on the site scale (pB > rB).
Conclusion: Results from this experiment provide a new up to date case study (with solid scientific basis) that focused on species distribution relationships, and help us understand the importance of species coexistence and biodiversity conservation.

Key words: spatial distribution, predator-prey relationships, camera traps, occupancy model