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Table of Content
    Volume 28 Issue 5
    20 May 2020
    Wild animals are important objects of biodiversity conservation and management. However, people have different understandings of what is a wild animal. Zeng et al (for details see pages 541–549 of this issue) propose a new conceptual framework describing “wild animals” through two dimensions: the level of human control interventions and the time length of artificial selection, from “wild” to “domesticated”.
    Reassess wildlife conservation in the context of public health
    Zhi Lü
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  539-540.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020288
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    A conceptual framework and definitions for the term “wild animal”
    Yan Zeng, Xiaoge Ping, Fuwen Wei
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  541-549.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020057
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    The term “wild animal” has different meanings not only in Chinese but in many languages all over the world. Here, we identify uses of the term “wild animal” through examining interpretations and applications in local, national, and international laws and language used in human controlled animal reproduction. We put forward a two-dimensional conceptual framework of “wild animals” that distinguishes 12 continuous states of animals from “wild” to “domesticated”. Animal groups that have not been artificially selected in the medium- and long-term were considered wild animals. Domesticated animals, whether or not they live under human control, such as domestic cats, dogs, poultry, livestock, and model animals or stray or feral were not considered “wild animals”. However, the management of some categories, such as tamed animals of wild species or exotic/invasive animals needs to base on ecological safety, species conservation, and legislative objectives. The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife shall apply to endangered animal species threatened by humans, whether they were found in the wild or under human control condition. For the management of other states of “wild animals”, existing laws should be strictly implemented, and new laws should be enacted with genetic resources, zoonotic diseases, animal welfare, and ecological safety in mind. We additionally make specific recommendations for the definition of “wild animal” for use under the Law on the Protection of Wildlife.

    Revision of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife: Background, issues and suggestions
    Zhongmei Lü, Zhenliang Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  550-557.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020120
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    An amendment to the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife has been incorporated into the annual legislative plan for 2020. Although the current Law has been revised many times, its existing problems, such as a narrow scope of wildlife protection, outdated regulatory system, uninformed law enforcement, and imperfect legal system, do not meet the new requirements and regulations put forth in the “Healthy China” and “Beautiful China” era. The decision to ban illegal wildlife trade altogether, eliminate the abuse of wild animals, and ensure people’s health and safety that was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress provides a good opportunity for revising the Law. We suggest that the revision of the Law should be carefully studied and implemented in the legislative process by reasonably defining the scope of protection, improving the “black and white” directory and licensing system, optimizing wildlife protection supervision and responsibility, and properly handling coordination with other relevant laws. These steps will promote the modernization of the environmental management system and its capacity.

    Significance of country red lists of endangered species for biodiversity conservation
    Zhigang Jiang, Jianping Jiang, Yuezhao Wang, E Zhang, Yanyun Zhang, Bo Cai
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  558-565.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020149
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    Both the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species and country red lists of endangered species assess the risk of extinction of species, the former being a global assessment whereas the latter provides regional assessments. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species alerts the world to the status of endangered species, and also serves as a database of global biodiversity. Country red lists, on the other hand, ascertain the status of species in particular countries, filling knowledge gaps in the former. The two lists are thus complementary to each other. However, insufficient attention has been paid to date to country red lists of endangered species. Country-level red lists should be given greater attention for at least the following reasons: (1) a sovereign country is the main authority for taking conservation action in regard to wildlife species within its boundaries based on the level of endangerment (conservation status) of the species; (2) for endemic species in a country, the country red list status constitutes its global status; (3) for species whose ranges cross national borders, the country’s red list status reflects the survival status of the species in the country; (4) combined with the IUCN global red list, the country red list provides a basis from which to consider the establishment of transnational protected areas, the protection of important habitats for migratory species, and the protection of international migration corridors; (5) the category of “Regional Extinction” is unique to country/regional red lists of endangered species, providing an indication of the danger of extinction of the species at the country level; and (6) country red lists of endangered species can provide updated information on the inventory, classification, distribution and status of species in the country. Yet, the importance of country red lists is often overlooked under many different circumstances. Following onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, however, people’s outlook in China has been changing in regard to the relationship between humans and wildlife. Consequently, China will be amending national laws on wildlife protection, epidemic prevention, and the List of State Key Protected Wild Animal Species, in order to better prevent and control emerging zoonoses. The status of wildlife species included in the country red list of endangered species should be one of the defining elements for identifying and updating species on the List of State Key Protected Wild Animal Species in China. Thus, it is critical to recognize the significance of the country red list of endangered species at this special moment in time.

    Problems and countermeasures in the surveillance and research of wildlife epidemics based on mammals in China
    Zhishu Xiao, Libiao Zhang, Lei Xu, Qihai Zhou, Xiuxiang Meng, Chuan Yan, Gang Chang
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  566-578.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020124
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    Recent epidemics, such as the COVID-2019 pandemic, SARS, and rodent plague, pose a major threat to public health, food security, and ecosystem balance globally. These epidemics have all been caused, directly or indirectly, by pathogens found in mammals or other animal vectors. Based on the status of recent terrestrial wildlife epidemics in China, this study summarizes the regulatory and monitoring mechanisms for 24 important diseases occurring in wild mammals, captive breeding wild animals, and domesticated mammals in China, and then identifies gaps in regulation and knowledge for these zoonotic diseases in China. Due to the diversity of pathogens and their transmission routes, these zoonotic diseases have had frequent outbreaks in recent decades, and preventing and controlling them has become one major challenge. Currently, China’s important wildlife epidemics are monitored and controlled by different levels and directives of multiple governmental agencies. The increasing global trade, poaching, illegal wildlife trade, illegal wildlife captive breeding, consumption of wild animals, and lax quarantine processes have led to complex chains of transmission, increasing risk of contact, infection, and transmission of these diseases. Additionally, the frequent occurrence of extreme climate events or natural disasters further complicate the prevention and control of these wildlife epidemics at their sources. Based on these problems in managing and controlling new and recurrent epidemics in China, we propose some countermeasures and suggestions to strengthen basic research and whole-chain supervision in order to actively prevent terrestrial wildlife epidemics.

    Matters needing attention about invoking ecological niche model in epidemiology
    Ran Wang, Huijie Qiao
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  579-586.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020155
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    The outbreak of COVID-19 has spurred a number of risk assessments within the scientific community regarding its spread and intensity. A popular ecological tool, ecological niche models (ENMs) are often used in these studies, and have been used to predict potential hotspots and trends of epidemics. However, ENMs are not the best tool for predicting COVID-19 spread due to the virus’ characteristics. This article reviews the application of ENMs for various epidemiological studies in recent decades, comparing advantages and disadvantages of ENM methods for predicting disease characteristics and other models. ENMs can only be used to analyze the impact of environmental disturbances of intermediate hosts during the epidemic transmission process, but SARS-CoV-2 is more reliant on human transmission, leading to poor ENM performance. Therefore, we must choose the appropriate modeling method for the transmission pathways of the disease to accurately predict the epidemic trend. Under appropriate conditions, ENMs can analyze the spread range of epidemics but we must include other interference factors to test and evaluate ENMs accurately. Misusing ENMs would mislead decision-makers. Therefore, when applying ENMs to predict the spread of infectious diseases, the primary consideration must be whether the scientific question meets the ecological assumptions.

    Verification of virus identity and host association using genomics technology
    Benfeng Han, Xin Zhou, Xue Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  587-595.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020156
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    Genomics technology, especially metagenomic sequencing, has played an important role in identifying and tracing unknown viruses. While classical methods in virus taxonomy rely on phenotypic traits, the metagenomics pipeline assembles new virus genomes from short nucleotide fragments without the need for any a priori reference sequences. This new technology increases the efficiency in identifying viruses and hosts associated with those viruses. This is particularly useful in identifying viruses that can cause epidemics. One current challenge in accomplishing this, is the ability to trace the original and intermediate viral hosts. To do this, a comprehensive virus sequence library characterized by definite host information is needed. Unfortunately, such information is still limited. As wild and stock animals are main sources for pathogenic viruses, an extensive survey of the global virome is vitally important to help identify and prevent zoonotic epidemics. This review summarizes the application of genomics technologies in the identification of viruses and the hosts associated with those viruses, using the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 as an example. We also address intrinsic drawbacks of current methodologies as well as the incompleteness of available virus libraries. We propose the necessity and feasibility in constructing a comprehensive virus database with host association that emphasizes the diversity of viruses and their interactions with other organisms.

    Creating synergy between biodiversity conservation and human health — One Health
    Binbin V Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  596-605.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020133
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    With the pandemic of COVID-19, the linkage between wildlife, biodiversity and human health has drawn tremendous attention from the public. In the recent 20 years, there has been growing interest from the international community to understand how biodiversity influences human health, which has become one of the crucial directions to promote biodiversity conservation and research. At the same time, One Health, as a new concept and framework, promotes interdisciplinary research and action to improve the health of humans, animals and the environment altogether. This concept has been adopted and promoted by various countries and international organizations, including the Convention on Biological Conservation. This paper summarizes major pathways of how biodiversity influences human health, the definition and history of One Health, the incorporation of One Health into the biodiversity conservation agenda. In the end, using the One Health framework, this paper suggests ways to improve China’s current wildlife management system to reduce the probability of potential public health crisis. This paper also identifies some key research gaps in enhancing the role of biodiversity in protecting human health. The implementation of One Health in China should emphasize the importance of biodiversity research and conservation. By integrating research on landscape ecology, community and species interactions, climate change impacts, land-cover and land-use change with that on human health, One Health can improve its efficiency in addressing risks of public health and environmental health. At the same time, China should invest more resources in wildlife management, reinforce the linkage between biodiversity conservation and human health, and prevent and control epidemics from their very beginning.

    Understanding and changing wildlife consumption behavior from a multidisciplinary perspective
    Zhijian Liang, Jiabei Hu, Sifan Hu, Jingjing Zhao, Kaiwen Zhou, Yunbo Jiao, Cheng Huang, Xia He, Anita Kar Yan Wan, Lishu Li, Fangyuan Hua, Tien Ming Lee
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  606-620.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020135
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    Escalating global demand for wildlife products and consequential illegal wildlife trade has become one of the major threats to biodiversity conservation. In the recent COVID-19 pandemic, growing public health risks of wildlife trade and consumption have triggered widespread public concern. In this review, we adopt a multidisciplinary perspective, including sociology, psychology, behavioral science and other disciplines, to understand the motivations for wildlife consumption in China, and to propose scientifically guided behavioral change countermeasures. The current state of wildlife consumption in China reveals certain functional, social, experiential and other non-essential needs of wildlife as major drivers of consumption, which are affected by a host of complex factors. Based on our understanding of the drivers of demand, we suggest using behavioral change frameworks, and a variety of behavioral change methods, including education, social influence, regulation and nudging, to effectively influence and change wildlife consumption behavior. For effective implementation of behavioral change strategies, collaboration needs to be strengthened, both among and across diverse disciplines, actors and scales of interest.

    Global conservation of Tachypleus tridentatus: Present status and recommendations
    Junhua Zhu, Zhou Wu, Bingbin Feng, Shuaishuai Deng, Wenquan Zhen, Yongyan Liao, Xiaoyong Xie, Kit Yue Kwan
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  621-629.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019401
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    Horseshoe crabs are an ancient group of marine arthropods. The Chinese horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus) is the largest among the four extant species. Tachypleus tridentatus is regarded as the indicator species of estuarine ecosystems. Meanwhile, its blood is used to manufacture biomedical testing kits, i.e., Tachypleus amebocyte lysate. The geographic distribution of T. tridentatus is constrained to the western Pacific Ocean, ranging from the Seto Inland Sea of Japan southwards to the North Jawa waters. A high historical population size of T. tridentatus was recorded in eastern China and southern Japan. Tachypleus tridentatus population decline has become apparent since the 1950s, and the species has been upgraded to “Endangered (EN)” under the IUCN Red List in 2019, depicting its global declining trend. Habitat destruction and overfishing are identified as the primary threats. We reexamined current conservation measures targeting T. tridentatus, including marine protected area establishment, captive breeding and restocking, and awareness programs and regulations. We provide recommendations to enhance the conservation and management of global T. tridentatus populations through: (1) expediting population baseline data collection; (2) developing standards for population/habitat monitoring; and (3) establishing scientifically sound restocking programs.

    Original Papers
    Public perception of wildlife consumption and trade during the COVID-19 outbreak
    Xiangying Shi, Xiaochuan Zhang, Lingyun Xiao, Binbin V Li, Jinmei Liu, Fangyi Yang, Xiang Zhao, Chen Cheng, Zhi Lü
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  630-643.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020134
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    The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn great attention to the potential public health risks associated with the consumption and trade of wildlife. To inform legislative revision and policy changes, we conducted a web-based survey of the general public, attracting 74,040 responses. The survey examined public support for revising legislation and policy related to wildlife consumption and trade management. The results and analysis revealed: (1) The overwhelming majority (> 90%) of constituents supported more stringent policy and legislation on wildlife consumption, trade, and commercial exhibitions. (2) The consumption of wildlife is likely to fall due to COVID-19. (3) People that engaged either directly or indirectly in wildlife-related industries showed less support for more stringent policy and legislation on wildlife consumption and trade. Based on these results and concerns for public health security, a ban on wildlife consumption and revised legislation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress was widely supported, particularly among educated, urban respondents.

    Assessment of current trade of exotic pets on the internet in China
    Yunrui Ji, Ye Li, Fang Liu, Diqiang Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (5):  644-650.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019391
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    In order to investigate the trade of exotic pets in China, two 6-week surveys were conducted separately in 2018 and 2019 to analyze the type, volume, and price for sale of exotic pets on four online platforms (Pachongwang app, Zhuanzhuan app, Wechat and Huicongwang). A total of 111 exotic species were recorded across 4 classes, 8 orders, 44 families, and 94 genera—including 94 species (84%, n = 111) in Reptilia, 12 species (11%) in Amphibia, 3 species (3%) in Aves, and 2 species (2%) in Mammalia. Twenty-seven species of exotic pets (24%) were listed as threatened species by IUCN Red List and 45 species (41%) were listed in the CITES Appendix. The number of trade events for 77% of species were fewer than six during the survey. Prices of 58% of species were lower than 1,000 yuan per individual. We propose reforms to the current regulation of the online animal and exotic pet trade given the concerning findings of this study.

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