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The snow leopard suitable habitat analysis and climate refugia identification in Qinghai province, China
  • +8
  • Jia Li,
  • Yadong Xue,
  • Charlotte Hacker,
  • Yu Zhang,
  • Ye Li,
  • Wei Cong,
  • Lixiao Jin,
  • Gang Li,
  • Bo Wu,
  • Diqiang Li,
  • Yuguang Zhang
Jia Li
Institute of Desertification studies
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Yadong Xue
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection
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Charlotte Hacker
Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University
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Yu Zhang
Research Institute of Nature Protected Areas
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Ye Li
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection
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Wei Cong
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection
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Lixiao Jin
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection
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Gang Li
Social Information Department of CCTV News Center
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Bo Wu
Institute of Desertification studies
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Diqiang Li
Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection
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Yuguang Zhang
Institute of Forest Ecology Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry
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Abstract

Global climate change poses major challenges for current biodiversity conservation efforts. Assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to reduce emerging climate-related threats. We used the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt model) to assess potential changes in snow leopard (Panthera uncia) suitable habitat in Qinghai Province, China under a mild climate change scenario. Our results showed that the area of snow leopard suitable habitat in Qinghai Province was 302,821 km2 under current conditions and 228,997 km2 under 2050’s climatic scenario, and that its mean elevation would shift upward 90 m. At present, nature reserves protect 38.78% of the currently suitable habitat and will protect 42.56% of future suitable habitat. Current areas climate refugia amounted to 212,341 km2, mainly distributed in Sanjiangyuan, Qilian mountains and surrounding areas. Our results provide valuable information for formulating strategies to meet future conservation challenges brought on by climate stress. We suggest that conservation efforts in Qinghai Province should focus on protecting areas of climate refugia and on maintaining or building corridors when planning for future species management.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

08 May 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
25 May 2021Assigned to Editor
25 May 2021Submission Checks Completed
04 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned