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Table of Content
    Volume 27 Issue 9
    20 September 2019
    As one of the Class I Protected Wildlife Species in China, snow leopard is the flagship species for mountainous ecosystems in Asia. Its distribution range is also the source regions of Asia’s major rivers. The survival of snow leopards confronts various threats such as climate change, habitat degradation, prey depletion, infrastructure constructions, mining, retaliatory killing, and illegal trade. To understand the current population status of snow leopards is meaningful for both the conservation of the species per se and its represented ecosystems. The cover photo shows a female snow leopard and its cub resting on a grassy slope in the Namsei Valley of Sanjiangyuan Region. (Photo Credit: Shan Shui Conservation Center)
    Special Feature: Snow Leopards: Survey, Research and Conservation Status in China
    Where and How many? The status of snow leopard (Panthera uncia) density surveys and knowledge gaps in China
    Yanjiang Liu, Xueyang Li, Xuchang Liang, Yanlin Liu, Chen Cheng, Juan Li, Piaopiao Tang, Huiyuan Qi, Xiaoxing Bian, Bing He, Rui Xing, Sheng Li, Xiaogang Shi, Chuangming Yang, Yadong Xue, Xinming Lian, Awangjiumei , Xierannima , Dazhao Song, Lingyun Xiao, Zhi Lü
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  919-931.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019027
    Abstract ( 2054 )   HTML ( 81 )   PDF (826KB) ( 1185 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is widely distributed across remote and difficult-to-traverse terrains. Thus, the main obstacle to snow leopard research is the lack of baseline data. Here, we retrieved all articles published in either Chinese or English that studied snow leopards in China from 1980 to 2018, and from these we identified 35 papers that reported on the distribution or density of snow leopards in their results sections. Eighteen of these included a density estimation. Additionally, we obtained unpublished snow leopard density survey data from 28 different areas. On this basis, we assessed the status of snow leopard surveys and data-deficient areas in each province. We found that the two areas most lacking data for the snow leopard distribution surveys exist in the West Tianshan Mountains bordering Kyrgyzstan and the Gangdisi-Nyenchenthanglha Mountains and the Himalayas in southern Tibet. Relative to the total area of ​​China’s snow leopard habitat, density surveys still only cover a small fraction of their habitat (1.7%), so these aggregation efforts are far from complete. Finally, because existing density surveys tend to explore relatively good snow leopard habitats, we must continue to expand survey efforts, especially across data-deficient areas.

    Ongoing threats and the current status of snow leopard conservation in China
    Xiaoyu Li, Lingyun Xiao, Xuchang Liang, Chen Cheng, Chen Feng, Xiang Zhao, Yanlin Liu, Xiaoxing Bian, Bing He, Changzhi Zhang, Justine Shanti Alexander, Rui Xing, Yahui Huang, Awangjiumei , Xierannima , Dazhao Song, Qiaowen Huang, , Kui Peng, Hang Yin, Xinming Lian, Xin Yang, Sheng Li, Xiaogang Shi, Chuangming Yang, Zhi Lü
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  932-942.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019026
    Abstract ( 2632 )   HTML ( 96 )   PDF (2520KB) ( 2401 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    When working with widespread large carnivores, most conservation organizations can only perform direct conservation actions for a specific population, but the extinction risk of a species is evaluated at a global scale. Here, we aim to bridge this impact gap by assessing the work and opinions from many organizations. We combines knowledge from scientific literature with the observations of 24 front-line staff working at 18 Chinese snow leopard research and conservation organizations. Through attending two group-meetings and by filling in threat-scoring spreadsheets, we identified 21 threats and ranked them at both the national and provincial levels. The five main snow leopard distribution provinces are Qinghai, Tibet, Xinjiang, Sichuan and Gansu. Also, we analyzed 17 conservation actions conducted by these conservation organizations, as well as the threats these actions attempted to address. The top three threats in China are the insufficient capacity of local conservation departments (9.5 points), climate change (8.0 points), and the lack of conservation incentive among local communities (6.8 points), although large differences exist between provinces. There is currently no action being taken in response to climate change. Although some conservation actions have addressed the insufficient capacity of local conservation departments and the lack of conservation awareness in local communities, such as by building up the capacity of conservation areas and monitoring by communities, respectively, the spatial coverage of these actions is still far from sufficient.

    Defining conservation priority areas of snow leopard habitat in the Sanjiangyuan Region
    Lingyun Xiao, Chen Cheng, Huawei Wan, Dehai Zhang, Yongcai Wang, Tsedan , Peng Hou, Juan Li, Xin Yang, Zhi Lü, Yuping Liu
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  943-950.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019014
    Abstract ( 1814 )   HTML ( 84 )   PDF (6801KB) ( 1151 )   Save
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    To maximize species conservation outcomes and effectively allocate limited resources, the first step in conservation planning is to define conservation priority areas and migration pathways between them. Based on field survey and high-resolution satellite data, we used species distribution models, conservation planning tools and connectivity analysis tools to define the core habitat area and potential corridors for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in the Sanjiangyuan Region. With potential threats identified, we proposed differentiated conservation strategies for different parts of the Sanjiangyuan Region: (1) In the western region, snow leopard core habitats are mostly small and fragmented but with widespread migration pathways and no obvious bottlenecks. However, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a potential barrier for snow leopard populations in the western region and needs further investigation. (2) The central region contains the largest core habitat which also has highest centrality in the connectivity analysis. To maintain the function of these source populations, we recommend long-term monitoring, anti-poaching patrol and supervision on development projects for this region. (3) For the eastern region, which has the highest human density, it is important to safeguard two core habitats (Anemaqen and Nanpo Yutze) and maintain the narrow corridors in between them. The provincial highway in Gande County may be a potential barrier for snow leopard migration and deserves further monitoring. As the epicenter for snow leopard conservation in China, the habitat quality in the Sanjiangyuan Region remains good overall. The goal of snow leopard landscape conservation in Sanjiangyuan should be to maintain core source populations while keeping migration routes unblocked. Integrated space-ground monitoring approaches should be implemented in the future for assessments and early warning signs of habitat degradation for these important protected species, especially in non-protected areas in core habitat at risk for development.

    Evaluating the potential habitat overlap and predation risk between snow leopards and free-range yaks in the Qionglai Mountains, Sichuan
    Xiaoyun Shi, Xiaogang Shi, Qiang Hu, Tianpei Guan, Qiang Fu, Jian Zhang, Meng Yao, Sheng Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  951-959.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019062
    Abstract ( 1522 )   HTML ( 48 )   PDF (1078KB) ( 1244 )   Save
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    Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) related to livestock predation is one of the main challenges for snow leopard conservation in China. The Qionglai Mountains are located on the southeastern edge of the snow leopard’s range, and we used the nature reserve network which transects the central Qionglai Mountains as our study area. We collected occurrence data for snow leopards and free-range yaks from camera-trapping surveys and animal fecal DNA analysis from 2014 to 2018 and then predicted the distribution of each species using species distribution models (MaxEnt). We mapped the overlapping patches of suitable habitats between snow leopards and yaks and used the extent of habitat overlapping as the indicator of potential predation risk. The results showed that, across the seven nature reserves, the predicted suitable habitat for snow leopards and yaks is 871.14 km 2 and 988.41 km 2, respectively. The overlapping habitat between the two species is 534.47 km 2, primarily distributed in the alpine meadow area in the western part of the study area, accounting for 61.35% of snow leopard’s suitable habitat. We suggest that, when developing the management plans of these nature reserves and the newly established Giant Panda National Park, managers should consider alpine grazing a key threat to wild snow leopards and give high priority to the management of high-risk areas identified in this study. Immediate actions are needed to reduce the risk of potential HWC through interdisciplinary approaches such as grazing control and alternative livelihoods in local communities.

    Metabarcoding diet analysis of snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province
    Qi Lu, Qiang Hu, Xiaogang Shi, Senlong Jin, Sheng Li, Meng Yao
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  960-969.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019101
    Abstract ( 2089 )   HTML ( 57 )   PDF (1939KB) ( 1522 )   Save
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    As the apex predator of plateau ecosystems in Central Asia and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) plays an essential role in maintaining food-web structure and ecosystem stability. Learning the diet composition and dynamics of the snow leopard is important for understanding its role in ecosystem functioning and interspecific interactions. Previous diet analyses of the snow leopard have been based mainly on morphological identification of food debris in the feces, though the accuracy of this practice has been broadly debated. The Qionglai Mountains are located at the southeast edge of the snow leopard range, harboring a small and relatively isolated population of snow leopards that are barely studied. Using non-invasive sampling, we collected 38 putative snow leopard fecal samples in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in the Qionglai Mountains. To identify the fecal origin, we extracted the fecal DNA and amplified the mitochondrial DNA 16S rRNA gene fragment. Twenty-two fecal samples were identified as originating from snow leopards. Subsequently, vertebrate universal primers and a snow leopard-specific blocking oligo were used to amplify the food components in the fecal DNA, and then high-throughput sequencing was performed to analyze the diet composition of snow leopards. The blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) was detected in 67% of the samples and was found to be the main staple food of snow leopards’ diet. The domestic yak (Bos grunniens) appeared in 33% of the fecal samples, also accounting for a high proportion of the snow leopard diet. In addition, pikas (Ochotona spp.) and birds were found in a small number of fecal samples. Therefore, wild prey was found to be the main food source for snow leopards in Wolong. However, livestock (yak) also accounted for a relatively large proportion of their diet.

    Original Papers
    Effect of environmental factors on understory species diversity in Southwest Guangxi Excentrodendron tonkinense forests
    Yibo Tan, Wenhui Shen, Zi Fu, Wei Zheng, Zhiyang Ou, Zhangqiang Tan, Yuhua Peng, Shilong Pang, Qinfei He, Xiaorong Huang, Feng He
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  970-983.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019133
    Abstract ( 1520 )   HTML ( 52 )   PDF (1282KB) ( 1135 )   Save
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    Exploring how distribution patterns of understory vegetation are affected by environmental factors is of great importance for natural forest protection and biodiversity conservation. Natural and mature Excentrodendron tonkinense-dominated forests on karst terrains were studied in eight counties of Southwest Guangxi. One-way ANOVA, Pearson correlation and redundancy analysis (RDA) were used to investigate the variation in species diversity and understory structure along a gradient of environmental factors including soil, topography, canopy structure and light. The results showed that the shrub layer was dominated by Sophora tonkinensis, Schefflera heptaphylla and Ventilago calyculata, as well as seedlings of species from the tree layer, such as Excentrodendron tonkinense, Orophea anceps, Cinnamomum saxatile and Garcinia paucinervis, etc. These species mainly represented the Leguminosae, Araliaceae, Rhamnaceae, Tiliaceae, Annonaceae, Lauraceae, Guttiferae and Euphorbiaceae families. Within the herb layer, the dominant species were Nephrolepis cordifolia, Guihaia argyrata, Pseudodrynaria coronans, Microstegium vimineum, Apluda mutica and Ophiopogon bodinieri, which mainly represent the Nephrolepidaceae, Palmae, Drynariaceae, Gramineae, Liliaceae, Aspleniaceae and Dryopteridaceae families. Soil pH, soil water content (SWC), soil total potassium (TK), soil total phosphorus (TP) and slope (SLO) were the main influencing factors, respectively explaining the variation in understory species diversity by 32.3%, 16.1%, 9.7%, 8.6% and 8.6%. Shrub richness and the shrub diversity index were significantly and negatively correlated with TK, SWC, soil pH and TP, while herb richness and the herb diversity index were significantly and positively correlated with TK. Shrub density and shrub coverage were positively linked to soil pH (P < 0.05), and herb density was positively associated with SWC and TK (P < 0.05). Herb coverage was positively correlated with TP and TK, and negatively correlated with slope (P < 0.05). Soil and topography were the most important factors affecting species diversity in the understory, while canopy structure had little effect on it. Edaphic factors were found to affect understory species diversity more than topographical factors.

    Food web characteristics of seagrass beds in intertidal of Dongying and Yantai, Shandong Province
    Bo Song, Linlin Chen, Lang Yan, Shaoyu Jiang, Chunyun Liu, Bingjun Li, Baoquan Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  984-992.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019270
    Abstract ( 1615 )   HTML ( 29 )   PDF (1908KB) ( 705 )   Save
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    To understand the nutritional relationship among benthic organisms and the food web characteristics in seagrass beds, we collected macrobenthic organisms in intertidal zones of the Yellow River Delta of Dongying and the west coast of Yantai in August 2018. We used δ 13C and δ 15N stable isotopes determine trophic position. The range of organisms isotopic values in the Dongying seagrass bed were -21.99‰ to -12.13‰ for δ 13C and 5.23‰ to 11.05‰ for δ 15N; and -18.11‰ to -14.06‰ (δ 13C) and 6.60‰ to 10.22‰ (δ 15N) in the Yantai seagrass bed. In the Dongying seagrass bed, the trophic level of main organisms ranged from 2.00 to 3.85, while in the Yantai seagrass bed the trophic range was from 2.00 to 3.15. According to δ 15N value calculations, we found that the primary consumers in these two area’s seagrass bed were filter feeding bivalves and polychaetes; the secondary consumers were plant-eating or omnivorous crustaceans, carnivorous fish and gastropods. Compared to offshore habitats, the average trophic position of macrobenthic organisms in seagrass beds was relatively low.

    Species diversity and seasonal fluctuation of entomogenous fungi of Ascomycota in Taibaoshan Forest Park in western Yunnan
    Zihong Chen, Yuanbing Wang, Yongdong Dai, Kai Chen, Ling Xu, Qingcheng He
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  993-1001.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019135
    Abstract ( 1492 )   HTML ( 13 )   PDF (1191KB) ( 1483 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    Yunnan Province and the Tibetan Plateau are home to a large diversity of entomogenous fungi. We selected Taibaoshan Forest Park of Baoshan City, in Yunnan to investigate the species diversity of entomogenous fungi of Ascomycota and their seasonal fluctuations throughout the year. We collected samples of soil and infected insects monthly in 2016, and the entomogenous fungal strains were isolated before multigene (nrSSU, nrLSU, EF-1α, RPB1, and RPB2) phylogenetic analyses were used to identify species. Finally we quanitifed the fluctuations throughout the year in alpha diversity. Entomogenous fungi of Ascomycota in Taibaoshan Forest Park were found through the entire year and we identified a total of 395 fungal strains, including 24 species from nine genera of three families. Cordyceps (199 strains of six species) and Beauveria (80 strains of five species) were the dominant genera. Akanthomyces sp., Cordyceps tenuipes, C. cicadae, C. fumosorosea and Beauveria bassiana were the dominant species. The detection rate of strains was the highest (85 strains, 21.4% of the total) in July, But the species richness (15 species) and Shannon-Wiener diversity index (2.35) were the highest in August. Among the five most dominant species, only C. cicadae was much affected by seasonal changes: occurring from May to September and being most prosperous in July (35 strains, 41.2% of the total strains in July). The other four species were detected through most of the year (11 or 12 months), indicating a constant abundance of entomogenous Ascomycota were abundant in Taibaoshan Forest Park, regardless of seasonal changes.

    A revised species list of amphibians and reptiles in the Anhui Province
    Yongmin Li, Xiaobing Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1002-1011.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019036
    Abstract ( 2571 )   HTML ( 60 )   PDF (2229KB) ( 1222 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    Based on historical accounts and the latest research on the taxonomy and phylogeny of amphibians, we provide an updated species list of the diversity and distribution of amphibian and reptile species in the Anhui Province, China. As of 30 November 2018, we recorded 44 amphibian species, representing 2 orders, 9 families and 26 genera, and 72 reptile species, representing 3 orders, 11 families and 48 genera in Anhui. Among these, 3 amphibian species and 1 reptile species are endemic to Anhui. When compared to amphibian and reptile species records in The Amphibian and Reptilian Fauna of Anhui, our census added 12 species, excluded 1 species, and renamed 29 species in this revised species list. According to the animal geographical regions of China, 91 species belong to the Oriental Realm, 10 species are classified in the Palaearctic Realm, and the remaining species are considered widespread. Four recorded species are listed in the National Key Protected Wild Animal List, and 112 species are ranked in the Red List of China’s Vertebrates.

    Preliminary surveys of mammals and birds by infrared camera traps in the Sichuan Baishuihe National Nature Reserve
    Weihe Yang, Yuelong Chen, Yue Deng, Xingzhe Wang, Lijun Chen, Daming Hu, Xiuhai Luo, Dazhao Song, Zhishu Xiao
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1012-1015.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019204
    Abstract ( 1485 )   HTML ( 37 )   PDF (583KB) ( 735 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    From May 2017 to May 2018, we used camera traps to investigate the ground-dwelling bird and mammal species in the Sichuan Baishuihe National Nature Reserve, China. From footage of over 3,832 camera trap days from 24 camera trap stations, we identified 535 independent wildlife images, including 17 mammal species belonging to 10 families and 4 orders and 10 bird species belonging to 4 families and 2 orders. Five of these species are listed as Class I Nationally Protected Wildlife, and 8 species are listed as Class II. Hystrix hodgsoni, Turdus mupinensis and Trochalopteron affine were newly recorded in the nature reserve, and Ailuropoda melanoleuca was first recorded after the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. For mammals, the number of independent images of Paguma larvata, Martes flavigula and Naemorhedus griseus accounted for 50.2%, and for birds, that of Ithaginis cruentus and Tragopan temminckii accounted for 91.6%. Our study provides important baseline information for the management and conservation of wildlife in the Baishuihe National Nature Reserve.

    Resource status of Michelia guangdongensis (Magnoliaceae), a wild plant species with extremely small populations
    Leilei Yang, Wenguang Wang, Xiaoan Lang, Suzhou Zhang, Zhangxiu Yao, Ting Xu, Yuanqiu Li, Danfeng Yan, Jianfen Yang, Yaling Wang, Shouzhou Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1016-1020.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019159
    Abstract ( 1208 )   HTML ( 20 )   PDF (581KB) ( 912 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    To clarify the current status of Michelia guangdongensis germplasm resources and evaluate its endangerment category, a field investigation was conducted in Guangdong Shimentai National Nature Reserve and its adjacent regions. The results are as followings: (1) We found a total of four wild distribution areas for Michelia guangdongensis, with two (Guangdong Shimentai National Nature Reserve and Shangtiantang, Yingde) of first reports. (2) Chuandiding harbors the largest population with 1,100 individuals, whereas Shangtiantang, Yingde, the smallest, with only about 20 individuals. (3) According to the IUCN Global Species Threat Assessment Standard, Michelia guangdongensis was rated as Endangered (EN, B1a + B2a).

    Advances in LiDAR technology in the field of animal ecology
    Shun Li, Liang Zou, Yinan Gong, Haitao Yang, Tianming Wang, Limin Feng, Jianping Ge
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1021-1031.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019166
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    LiDAR (light detection and ranging), a fairly new active remote sensing technology, is being widely used in the field of animal ecology by more and more scholars due to the recent development where forest parameters can be extracted and inverted from LiDAR. In this paper, we review the advances in forest parameter extraction from LiDAR and its many applications in studying wildlife habitat. We also analyze current research on forest parameter inversion algorithms based on LiDAR, mainly in forestry research, though we lack quantitative parameters related to the ecological significance of animals. Because few studies have applied LiDAR technology to animal ecology research in China, we consider foreign research in this field in three categories: (1) The relationship between species habitat selection and three-dimensional forest structure; (2) Three-dimensional habitat mapping; (3) Biodiversity assessment and species distribution model prediction. Compared with traditional methods, the high-precision three-dimensional structure information provided by LiDAR can significantly improve the efficacy of monitoring animal habitat quality and biodiversity and the modelling accuracy of species distribution models. These advancements contribute to deeper understanding of species habitat selection and the clustering process mechanism. However, the studies that utilize LiDAR to date have mainly focused on previously known ecological relationships, especially the relationship between canopy structure and species diversity. These studies fail to account for either forest understory habitat quality or biodiversity monitoring and evaluation. In short, the relationship between wildlife and its three-dimensional habitat needs to be further explored through analysis of LiDAR data. Future studies should focus on extracting three-dimensional structures of forest understories to improve the efficacy of monitoring habitat quality and biodiversity in the understory, and to provide standard quantitative indicators for the evaluation of animal ecology.

    Transformative changes and paths toward biodiversity conservation in China
    Rui Yang, Qinyi Peng, Yue Cao, Le Zhong, Shuyu Hou, Zhicong Zhao, Cheng Huang
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1032-1040.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019217
    Abstract ( 2465 )   HTML ( 88 )   PDF (1090KB) ( 1662 )   Save
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    Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction, and in response to the severity of accelerated biodiversity loss, the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets. However, the IPBES global assessment showed that most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 will possibly be missed, because of which the IPBES called for transformative changes in nature conservation in its global assessment report. China has made significant progress in biodiversity conservation, put forward with completed eco-civilization system, try to develop a protected area system, stress the importance of biodiversity conservation by inspection and “Green Shield” action. In addition, up to 18% of territory has been designated as protected area. However, biodiversity is still declining at an accelerated rate, more species are threatened. Although a series of reforms to eco-civilization has started the transformative changes, such as mainstreaming biodiversity in central government, managing all the protected areas in one department, emphasizing the importance of biodiversity in national spatial planning and China Ecological Conservation Red Line (ECRL) designation, systematic strategies and actions are still in need for biodiversity conservation. It is important to further implement “mainstreaming” at different levels, establish a systematic legal system and effective conservation mechanism, guarantee enough funds, clarify the status of biodiversity in production and living space, and make ecosystem service possible to become economic benefits. Therefore, it is necessary for China to achieve transformative changes in terms of conservation awareness, spatial planning, and conservation actions by promoting balanced economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress. It is possible to mainstream conservation awareness, coordinate between conservation and utilization, and promote citizen-based conservation actions if China combines the forces of law, governance, market, technology, and society. This approach world form an efficient and integrated mechanism to achieve the ideal state of biodiversity conservation, “living in harmony with nature”.

    Control international trade in wildlife and protect the earth’s biodiversity—Commentary on the 18 th Conference of the Parties of CITES
    Yan Zeng, Jie Zhou, Qi Dong, Xiaoge Ping, Zhigang Jiang
    Biodiv Sci. 2019, 27 (9):  1041-1045.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019286
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    The 18 th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17 to 28, 2019. The Parties discussed 56 proposals for amendment of the Appendix of the Convention and 140 working documents, continuing the trend of the amendment of the Appendix in recent years. However, the trend of including more species in the Appendix slowed down at this Convention. The Parties clarified the annotations, application, interpretation and implementation of the Appendix, established new regulatory resolutions and adopted the CITES Strategic Vision post-2020. At the meeting, China established a positive image as a responsible country that attaches importance to the construction of ecological civilization, and all five proposals for amendments of the CITES Appendix proposed or jointly proposed by China have been adopted by the Parties.

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