The hooded crane (Grus monacha) is a vulnerable species. However, its stopover habitat receives little attention and is not well known or protected even. Here, we present the spatial distribution of the stopover habitats for hooded cranes in the East Asia. A machine learning modeling algorithm of maximum entropy (MaxEnt) weas applied and evaluated with Stochastic Gradient Boosting and Random Forests based on 115 every year used occurrence points (1990-2013) and 14 environmental layers as predictors. Results show that the Songnen Plain and Korea Peninsula are the most important stopover habitats. Four other major areas are also suitable for stopover: (i) the coastal area of the Bohai Sea, (ii) the Three Rivers Plain-Amur River Basin, (iii) the Torey Lake Basin and the (iv) Zeya River-Heilongjiang River. The gap analysis revealed that existing nature reserves conserve merely 16.7% of the suitable habitat and 26.7% of the core habitat. However, much more suitable habitat is still located widely outside nature reserves. Based on our predictions, a total of 22 priority areas should be considered when developing new nature reserves or expanding the existing nature reserves. In addition, we suggest that seven regions located at the Korean Peninsula are also suitable for dispersing hooded cranes from Izumi, Japan. Artificial feeding, including setting up feeding stations with grain, artificial cranes (decoys) and artificial flowing water impoundments can be used to attract wintering hooded cranes at these seven sites. Theoretically, our models show that these habitats can accommodate approximately 3,713 wintering individuals (ca. 35% of the wintering population in Izumi).
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