September 23, 2013

Richness Mapping And Prediction Of Amphibians In Southern And Central China

Systematic conservation planning is a multiple-objective process. Identification of important areas and species with high conservation priority is two of the research objectives. China is one of mega-biodiversity countries of the world. Along with rapid economic development and environmental degeneration, native and endemic species of China are confronting growing threats in the last two decades. It is an urgent agenda to set up relevant conservation policies, researches and decision supports so as to better reduce extinction risks of vertebrate animals of China.

Amphibians are an important vertebrate taxonomy for ecologists and conservationists because they are highly sensitive to global change and habitat fragmentation. There are a series of researches working on identifying conservation priorities of amphibians through geographic information system. Sampling and recording of species' distribution requires extensive and continuous field works, which seems not applicable due to limited research resources. Further, historical records of species distribution might be inaccurate to reflect true distribution of amphibian species given the current climatic and habitat conditions.

To cope with these above issues, in a recent work on habitat suitability modeling of amphibians on Southern and Central China, the author is aiming to quantify and predict richness hotspots of amphibians for China using a multivariate statistical method, called ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA).

The advantage of ENFA is that it can compute suitable habitat ranges of species based on known distribution records of species and the associated environmental variables. To overcome the limited sampling issue as mentioned above, by employing ENFA method, the author estimated amphibian diversity over many spatial quadrates by incorporating climatic and geophysical information of areas. In this study, totally eleven environmental variables are included for the modeling.

The research may offer some insights into the potential conservation strategies, which might allocate corresponding conservation supports to those potentially richness hotspots being less focused currently.


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