Assessing mammal species richness and occupancy in a Northeast Asian temperate forest shared by cattle

Jiawei Feng, Yifei Sun, Hailong Li, Yuqi Xiao, Dandan Zhang, James L.D. Smith, Jianping Ge, Tianming Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: Asian forests are becoming increasingly degraded and fragmented by the extensive intensification of anthropogenic activities; these activities threaten wildlife and ecosystem sustainability. Facing a defaunation crisis, managers need more information on species assemblages to guide conservation efforts. We tested the relative influence of natural and anthropogenic factors on mammalian species richness and occupancy in temperate forests in Northeast Asia. Location: Northeast China. Methods: Camera-trapping data and multispecies occupancy models were used to estimate the species richness of a terrestrial mammal community in a working landscape and assess community-, group-, and species-specific responses to natural and anthropogenic features while accounting for imperfect detection. Species were grouped based on body size, diet and activity pattern. Results: We deployed 138 cameras and photographed 21 mammalian species over 22,976 trap days across the China–Russia border. Both natural and anthropogenic correlates varied in their importance in predicting the presence of different animals. Vegetation cover and cattle were found to have significantly positive and negative influences on community-level mammalian occupancy, respectively. The positive relationship with vegetation cover was most evident for large or diurnal species; the negative relationship with cattle was most evident for diurnal and wild ungulate species. Large species occupancy was also negatively associated with human settlements. The predicted richness across each station varied from 5 to 14 unique species, and species had a mean occupancy probability of 0.45 (95% credible interval = 0.09–0.86). Species richness was generally the lowest in livestock grazing areas and close to human settlements. Human influence is more important than the influences of vegetation and environmental variables. Main conclusions: Our results highlight that livestock grazing was the primary human disturbance that had a negative impact on species occupancy and richness. Multispecies occupancy models helped to identify drivers of biodiversity declines and will inform conservation strategies in human-dominated landscapes in Northeast Asian forests. We suggest that landscape conservation planning seeks to maximize forest protection and ecosystem services such as biodiversity and carbon storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-872
Number of pages16
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Francesca Cuthbert and the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved our manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971539, 31270567) and the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC0500106). J.L.D. Smith's contribution to this research was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our camera‐trapping protocol was approved by the Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration. Non‐invasive camera‐trapping technology did not involve direct contact with animals.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grand/Award Number: 31971539, 31270567; National Key Research and Development Program of China, Grand/Award Number: 2016YFC0500106.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grand/Award Number: 31971539, 31270567; National Key Research and Development Program of China, Grand/Award Number: 2016YFC0500106. We thank Francesca Cuthbert and the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved our manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971539, 31270567) and the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC0500106). J.L.D. Smith's contribution to this research was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Our camera-trapping protocol was approved by the Chinese National Forestry and Grassland Administration. Non-invasive camera-trapping technology did not involve direct contact with animals.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Diversity and Distributions published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • China
  • camera trapping
  • cattle grazing
  • community occupancy
  • conservation
  • hierarchical modelling
  • species richness

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