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Determining threatened species distributions in the face of limited data: Spatial conservation prioritization for the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)

Chen, S; Cunningham, AA; Wei, G; Yang, J; Liang, Z; Wang, J; Wu, M; ... Turvey, ST; + view all (2018) Determining threatened species distributions in the face of limited data: Spatial conservation prioritization for the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus). Ecology and Evolution , 8 (6) pp. 3098-3108. 10.1002/ece3.3862. Green open access

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether limited occurrence data for highly threatened species can provide useful spatial information to inform conservation. The study was conducted across central and southern China. We developed a habitat suitability model for the Critically Endangered Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) based on one biotic and three abiotic parameters from single‐site locality records, which represent the only relevant environmental data available for this species. We then validated model quality by testing whether increased percentage of predicted suitable habitat at the county level correlated with independent data on giant salamander presence. We randomly selected 48 counties containing historical records which were distinct from, and independent of, the single‐site records used to develop the model, and 47 additional counties containing >50% predicted suitable habitat. We interviewed 2,812 respondents near potential giant salamander habitat across these counties and tested for differences in respondent giant salamander reports between counties selected using each method. Our model predicts that suitable giant salamander habitat is found widely across central and southern China, with counties containing ≥50% predicted suitable habitat distributed in 13 provinces. Counties with historical records contain significantly more predicted suitable habitat than counties without historical records. There are no statistical differences in any patterns of respondent giant salamander reports in surveyed counties selected from our model compared with the areas of known historical giant salamander distribution. A Chinese giant salamander habitat suitability model with strong predictive power can be derived from the restricted range of environmental variables associated with limited available presence‐only occurrence records, constituting a cost‐effective strategy to guide spatial allocation of conservation planning. Few reported sightings were recent, however, with most being over 20 years old, so that identification of areas of suitable habitat does not necessarily indicate continued survival of the species at these locations.

Type: Article
Title: Determining threatened species distributions in the face of limited data: Spatial conservation prioritization for the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3862
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3862
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: amphibian conservation, Cryptobranchidae, GIS, habitat suitability model, interview survey, local ecological knowledge
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040824
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