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Habitat Evaluation for Reintroduced Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) in Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, China, Based on a Maximum Entropy Model

Habitat Evaluation for Reintroduced Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) in Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, China, Based on a Maximum Entropy Model

Liumeng Zheng1, Yanmei Wang1, Jiagui Zhu2, Ke Wang2, Dejing Cai2, Yuanzhao Qin3, Yuming Guo3, Hongxing Niu1,* and Yanzhen Bu1,*

1College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, Henan Province 453007, China 
2Administration Bureau of Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, Luoshan, Henan Province 464236, China
3Administration Bureau of Xinxiang National Nature Reserve, Xinxiang, Henan Province 453000, China

Liumeng Zheng and Yanmei Wang contributed equally to this work.

*      Corresponding authors: hongxingniu@htu.cn; buyanzhen@htu.cn

 

ABSTRACT

Crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) is globally endangered due to habitat loss and destruction. In 2007, a reintroduction project was implemented in Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, Henan Province, and 78 crested ibises were released between 2013 and 2015, with the aim of establishing a self-sustaining wild population outside the Qinling Mountains, where crested ibis was first reintroduced. The aim of this study was to detect suitable habitat areas, and evaluate the factors affecting the distribution of the crested ibis. We used a maximum entropy model with seven environmental variables to evaluate habitat suitability. Our results indicate that the current reserve may be too small to meet the crested ibises’ needs in the future, and we believe that more ibises will disperse outside the reserve as the population expands. The distribution of crested ibises in the Dongzhai Reserve area was mainly affected by altitude, followed by distance to forest, and distance to roads. Notably, our study confirmed that the crested ibis has adapted and regained the habit of living at low elevations in the Dongzhai Reserve. Although most suitable habitat was found inside the nature reserve, a large proportion of suitable habitat was also found outside of the reserve. In addition, we found evidence that crested ibises were fairly tolerant to human disturbances, such as presence of roads. As the population of crested ibises expands, more may move outside of the nature reserve. It is, therefore, important to also implement crested ibis conservation strategies such as public outreach and surveillance outside of the nature reserve, as well as continuing conservation efforts inside of the nature reserve.
 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

June

Vol. 50, Iss. 3, Pages 799-1198

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