Spatial models of giant pandas under current and future conditions reveal extinction risks.
In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, demographic processes-the vagaries of births, deaths and sex ratio fluctuations-pose substantial threats to wild giant panda populations. Additionally, climate change and plans for the Giant Panda National Park may influence (in opposing directions) the extinction risk for wild giant pandas. The Fourth National Giant Panda Census showed pandas living in 33 isolated populations. An estimated 259 animals live in 25 of these groups, ~14% of the total population. We used individual-based models to simulate time series of these small populations for 100 years. We analysed the spatial pattern of their risk of extinction under current conditions and multiple climate change models. Furthermore, we consider the impact of the proposed Giant Panda National Park. Results showed that 15 populations face a risk >90%, and for 3 other populations the risk is >50%. Of the 15 most at-risk populations, national parks can protect only 3. Under the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 climate change scenario, the 33 populations will probably further divide into 56 populations. Some 41 of them will face a risk >50% and 35 face a risk >90%. Although national parks will probably connect some fragmented habitats, 26 populations will be outside national park planning. Our study gives practical advice for conservation policies and management and has implications for the conservation of other species in the world that live in isolated, fragmented habitats.
Kong, L; Xu, W; Xiao, Y; Pimm, SL; Shi, H; Ouyang, Z
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