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Effects on habitat fragmentation and population dynamics of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys  

A research team funded by the Project on Biodiversity and Ecological Security investigated the impacts of climate changes and human activities on habitat and the population dynamics of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecusbieti).The research team analyzed the population status and threat factors of the snub-nosed monkey, discussed the effects of climate changes and human activities on its habitat and population dynamics, and predicted the population development trend, and provided some conservation strategies. These results were published in Biological Conservation and PeerJ.

Globally, human activities and climate changes have caused habitat degradation and loss, resulting in 27% of mammals to be classified as  threatened speices. In China, about 80% of species among the 27 non-human primate species are highly threatened, and most of them are vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered at different survival levels. The research team used integrated approaches (e.g. MAXENT model, circuit model and geneticanalysis) to assess and predict the effects of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the distribution of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys. The results predict that the suitable habitat for R. bietiare is likely to decline by 8.0%–22.4% from 2000 to 2050, with the collection of local forest products and the grazing of domesticated cattle as the primary drivers of landscape fragmentation and range contraction.

Furthermore, the research team collected data from field work, spatial analysis, genetic analysis and the Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) to evaluate the effects of habitat fragmentation on the population dynamics, genetic diversity, and range shifts inYunnan snub-nosed monkeys. The results show that during 1994-2016, the population size of R. bieti increased from < 2,000 to about 3,000 individuals. The research team also found that the sub population growth rates were significantly uneven and was identified to be the exact problem faced by Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys. The research team suggested policies designed to protect this endangered primate with a focus not only on total population size, but also on the amount of genetic diversity present across different sub-populations.

The team also highlighted that government conservation plans prioritize the protection of some R. bieti populations, such as the Bamei and Jisichang populations which have specific haplotypes. They also suggested that the migration corridors for conservation strategies should be set up to enable individuals to migrate between populations, which will increase the genetic diversity of some populations. Although the study focuses on a single primate species, the conservation modeling approaches used have wide applicability to a broad range of threatened mammalian that currently inhabit a limited geographic range and are affected by human activities, habitat loss, reduction of genetic diversity, and climate change.

Related articles published:

Zhao, X., Ren, B., Li, D., Xiang, Z., Garber, P. A., & Li, M. (2019). Effects of habitat fragmentation and human disturbance on the population dynamics of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey from 1994 to 2016. PeerJ, 7. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6633,https://peerj.com/articles/6633/

Zhao, X., Ren, B., Li, D., Garber, P. A., Zhu, P., Xiang, Z., … Li, M. (2019). Climate change, grazing, and collecting accelerate habitat contraction in an endangered primate. Biological Conservation, 231, 88–97. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.007,https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718312217;

 

Big Earth Data Science Engineering Program, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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