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Influence of land use changes on landscape connectivity for North China leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis)

Citation

Guofu, Liang; Jingzhen, Liu; Hanbo, Niu; Shengyan, Ding (2022), Influence of land use changes on landscape connectivity for North China leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.msbcc2g23

Abstract

North China leopard (Panthera pardus japonensis), is the most widespread subspecies of leopard and one of the rare and endangered species in China. It is currently confined to several isolated natural reserves, and little is known about its habitat network connectivity with land use changes. This study was conducted to assess the impacts of land use changes on landscape connectivity for North China leopards in the Great Taihang Region. Circuit theory-based connectivity models and least-cost path analyses were used to delineate pathways suitable for species movement, and evaluate the impacts of land use changes on landscape connectivity. The results revealed that there were 37 least-cost paths in 1990 and 38 in 2020. The area of forest land increased from 57142.74 km2 to 74836.64 km2, with the percentage increasing from 26.61% to 34.85%. In general, the increase of forest land area promoted landscape connectivity for North China leopards at broad spatial scales. The improvement of landscape connectivity was not always consistent with the land use changes, and there was a slightly decreasing trend in connectivity in some key movement barrier areas with high-intensity of human activities. Improving landscape connectivity at broad spatial scales is as important as protecting the habitats (natural reserves) where the species lives. Our study can serve as an example of exploring the relationships between land use changes and landscape connectivity for species conservation at broad spatial scales with limited movement pattern data. This information is proved to be critical for enhancing landscape connectivity for the conservation concerns of North China leopard and planning of natural reserves network.

Funding

Natural Science Foundation of Henan Province, Award: 202300410095

National Demonstration Center for Experimental Environment and Planning Education - Henan University, Award: 2020HGSYJX002