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Bocci, A., Lovari, S., Khan, M. Z., Mori, E. (2017). Sympatric snow leopards and Tibetan wolves: coexistence of large carnivores with human-driven potential competition. European Journal of Wildlife Research, , 1–9.
Abstract: The snow leopard Panthera uncia coexists with the wolf Canis lupus throughout most of its distribution range.
We analysed the food habits of snow leopards and wolves in their sympatric range in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. A total of 131 genotyped scats (N = 74, snow leopard; N = 57, Tibetan wolf) were collected during the cold periods (i.e. winter and spring) of 2011 and 2012 in the Hushey valley. Large mammals, i.e. livestock and ibex, accounted for 84.8 and 83.1% of the diet (relative frequency) of the snow leopard and the wolf, respectively. Domestic prey was the staple of the diet of both snow leopards (66.6%) and wolves (75.1%). Ibex Capra ibex, the only wild ungulate in our study area, contributed 18.2 and 16.9%of relative frequencies in the
diets of the snow leopard and the wolf, respectively. In winter, the snowleopard heavily relied on domestic sheep (43.3%) for food, whereas the wolf preyed mainly on domestic goats (43.4%). Differently from other study areas, both snow leopards and wolves showed no apparent prey preference (Jacobs
index: snow leopard min. − 0.098, max. 0.102; Tibetan wolf min. − 0.120, max. 0.03). In human depauperate areas, with livestock and only a few wild prey, should competitive interactions arise, two main scenarios could be expected, with either predator as a winner. In both cases, the best solution
could primarily impinge on habitat restoration, so that a balance could be found between these predators, who have already coexisted for thousands of years.
Natalia, E., Sergey, N., Vyacheslav, R., Fedor, V., Antonio, H. B. J., Andrey, P., Alexander, K., Ekaterina, P. (2017). HELMINTHS OF RARE FELINE SPECIES (FELIDAE) IN SIBERIA AND THE RUSSIAN FAR EAST. International Journal of Research In, , 70–74.
Abstract: Parasites diversity in close-related species of hosts may be different depending on habitat use and climatic conditions. The aim of this study was to
analyze parasites fauna in four felid species inhabiting Russian Far East and South Siberia (including taiga forest and mountain treeless areas). We
have collected 272 feces samples of four felid species: Amur tiger, Amur leopard, snow leopard and Pallas� cat. Helminths (eggs and larvae) in
excrements were studied by flotation using a saturated solution of ammonium nitrate. We have described 10 helminths species in Amur tiger feces, 6
� in Amur leopard, 2 � in snow leopard and 3 � in Pallas� cat. Obviously, snow leopard and Palls� cat had lower helminths diversity than two other
species. These differences can be explained, to some extent, by climatic parameters. The climate in the snow leopard and Pallas' cat habitats is
described by sharp and significant temperature fluctuations – the annual temperature difference can exceed 90°C, which may lead to lower survival of
the number of infectious agents in Pallas' cat excrements. In addition, the snow cover that can protect helminth eggs and larvae from the cold
temperatures especially in Amur tiger and Amur leopard habitats. Possibly, another important factor is the spatial and social organization of Pallas'
cats, with a low frequency of contacts with other individuals. Such way, species-specific differences in helminths were related, probably, with the
species evolution in different habitats
Chen, P., Gao, Y., Lee, A. T. L., Cering, L., Shi, K., Clark, S. G. (2016). Human–carnivore coexistence in Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) Nature Reserve, China: Patterns and compensation. Biological Conservation, (197), 18–26.
Abstract: Livestock depredation by large carnivores is frequently reported in Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Reserve, Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Seeking to minimize conflicts, we assessed depredation patterns and ways to upgrade the compensation program. We gathered 9193 conflict records over 2011–2013 to determine the extent and tempo-spatial patterns of the depredation.Weinterviewed 22 local officials and 94 residents to learn their views on depredations and to assess the adequacy of compensation. Data showed that wolves (Canis lupus), lynx (Lynx lynx), and snowleopards (Panthera uncia)were themajor livestock predators. Total livestock
loss accounted for 1.2% of the entire stockholding (n=846,707) in the region. Wolves and lynx tended to take sheep and goats,whereas snowleopards favored yaks and cattle in relation to their proportional abundance. Predation mostly occurred in March through July. Livestock depredation by all predators when combined was best explained by terrain ruggedness and density of small- and large-bodied livestock. Temporal and spatial predation patterns variedamong carnivores.Most respondents (74%) attributed depredation causes to an increase in carnivore abundance. Only 7% blamed lax livestock herding practice for predation losses. Five percent said that
predation was the result of livestock population increases, while 11% had no idea. The compensation scheme was found to be flawed in all aspects—predation verification, application procedure, compensation standard, operational resource allocation, making payment, and other problems. To enhance management for human–carnivore coexistence, we recommend a problem-oriented, integrated, adaptive approach that targets the complex social context of the conflict and addresses the interconnected functions of decision-making process.
Alexander, S., A., Zhang, C., Shi, K., Riordan, P. (2016). A granular view of a snow leopard population using camera traps in Central China. Biological Conservation, (197), 27–31.
Abstract: Successful conservation of the endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) relies on the effectiveness of monitoring programmes. We present the results of a 19-month camera trap survey effort, conducted as part of a longterm study of the snow leopard population in Qilianshan National Nature Reserve of Gansu Province, China. Weassessed the minimumnumber of individual snowleopards and population density across different sampling periods using spatial capture–recapture methods. Between 2013–2014, we deployed 34 camera traps across an area of 375 km2, investing a total of 7133 trap-days effort. Weidentified a total number of 17–19 unique individuals
from photographs (10–12 adults, five sub-adults and two cubs). The total number of individuals identified and estimated density varied across sampling periods, between 10–15 individuals and 1.46–3.29 snow leopards per 100 km2 respectively. We demonstrate that snow leopard surveys of limited scale and conducted over short sampling periods only present partial views of a dynamic and transient system.We also underline the challenges in achieving a sufficient sample size of captures and recaptures to assess trends in snow leopard population size and/or density for policy and conservation decision-making
Alexander, J., S., Gopalaswamy, A., M., Shi, K., Hughes, J., Riordan, P. (2016). Patterns of Snow Leopard Site Use in an Increasingly Human-Dominated Landscape. PLoS ONE, , 1–15.
Abstract: Human population growth and concomitant increases in demand for natural resources pose threats to many wildlife populations. The landscapes used by the endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and their prey is increasingly subject to major changes in land use. We aimed to assess the influence of 1) key human activities, as indicated by the presence of mining and livestock herding, and 2) the presence of a key prey species, the blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), on probability of snow leopard site use across the landscape. In Gansu Province, China, we conducted sign surveys in 49 grid cells, each of 16 km2 in size, within a larger area of 3392 km2. We analysed the data using likelihood-based habitat occupancy models that explicitly account for imperfect detection and spatial auto-correlation between survey transect segments. The model-averaged estimate of snow leopard occupancy was high [0.75 (SE 0.10)], but only marginally higher than the naïve estimate (0.67). Snow leop- ard segment-level probability of detection, given occupancy on a 500 m spatial replicate, was also high [0.68 (SE 0.08)]. Prey presence was the main determinant of snow leopard site use, while human disturbances, in the form of mining and herding, had low predictive power. These findings suggest that snow leopards continue to use areas very close to such disturbances, as long as there is sufficient prey. Improved knowledge about the effect of human activity on large carnivores, which require large areas and intact prey populations, is urgently needed for conservation planning at the local and global levels. We highlight a number of methodological considerations that should guide the design of such research.
Ferretti, F., Lovari, S. (2016). Predation may counteract climatic change as a driving force for movements of mountain ungulates.
Abstract: Temperature variations are expected to influence altitudinal movements of mountain herbivores and, in
turn, those of their predators, but relevant information is scarce. We evaluated monthly relationships
between temperature and altitude used by a large mountain-dwelling herbivore, the Himalayan tahr
Hemitragus jemlahicus, and its main predator, the snow leopard Panthera uncia, in an area of central
Himalaya for five consecutive years (2006–2010). In contrast to expectations, there was no significant
direct relationship between altitude of tahr sightings and temperature. The mean altitude of tahr sightings
decreased by c. 200 m throughout our study. As expected, snow leopard movements tracked those of tahr,
although the core area of the snow leopard did not move downwards. Tahr remained the staple of the
snow leopard diet: we suggest that the former did not move upwards in reaction to higher temperature
to avoid encounters with the latter. Avoidance of competition with the larger common leopard Panthera
pardus at lower altitudes could explain why snow leopards did not shift their core area downwards.
Apparently, interspecific interactions (predation; competition) influenced movements of Himalayan tahr
and snow leopards more than climatic variations.
Alexander, J. S., Zhang, C., Shi, K., Riordan, P. (2016). A spotlight on snow leopard conservation in China. Integrative Zoology, (11).
Abstract: China holds the greatest proportion of the snow leopard’s (Panthera uncia) global range and is central to their conservation. The country is also undergoing unprecedented economic growth, which increases both the threats to the snow leopard and the opportunities for its conservation. In this paper we aim to review published literature (from 1950 to 2014) in English and Mandarin on snow leopard ecology and conservation in China in order to identify thematic and geographic research gaps and propose research priorities. We first retrieved all publish items that considered snow leopards in China (n = 106). We extracted from these papers 274 reports of snow leopard presence in China. We then reviewed a subset of papers (n = 33) of this literature, which specifically focused on snow leopard ecology and conservation within China. We introduced a thematic framework that allows a structured and comprehensive assessment of findings. This framework recognizes 4 critical and interrelated topics underpinning snow leopard ecology and conservation: habitat (distribution and protected area coverage); prey (distribution and abundance, predator–prey relationships); human interactions (hunting and trade, livestock interactions and conflicts); and the underlying policy context. Significant gains in knowledge as well as research gaps and priorities are discussed with reference to our framework. The modest quantity and limited scope of published research on the snow leopard in China calls for a continued and intensified effort to inform and support national conservation policies.
Guoliang, P., Alexander, J. S., Riordan, P., Shi, K., Kederhan, Yang, H. (2016). Detection of a snow leopard population in northern Bortala, Xinjiang, China. Cat News, (63).
Abstract: We substantiate the presence of snow leopards Panthera uncia using camera
traps within the Dzungarian Alatau range in Bortala Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture,
Xinjiang Province, China. A total of 13 camera trap stations were set up in
2012 and a total of 14 camera trap stations in 2013 within an area of 192 km2. A total
of 11-15 individual adult snow leopards and two sub adults were identified from
photo captures of sufficient quality. A range of human activities were noted within
and surrounding the survey area, including livestock herding and mining. We recommend
more large scale and intensive camera trap surveys to further assess the
population status of the snow leopard within this area
Weiskopf, S. R., Kachel, S. M., McCarthy, K. P. (2016). What Are Snow Leopards Really Eating? Identifying Bias in Food-Habit Studies. Wildlife Society Bulletin, , 1–8.
Abstract: Declining prey populations are widely recognized as a primary threat to snow leopard (Panthera
uncia) populations throughout their range. Effective snow leopard conservation will depend upon reliable
knowledge of food habits. Unfortunately, past food-habit studies may be biased by inclusion of nontarget
species in fecal analysis, potentially misinforming managers about snow leopard prey requirements.
Differentiation between snow leopard and sympatric carnivore scat is now cost-effective and reliable using
genetics. We used fecal mitochondrial DNA sequencing to identify scat depositors and assessment bias in
snow leopard food-habit studies. We compared presumed, via field identification, and genetically confirmed
snow leopard scats collected during 2005 and 2012 from 4 sites in Central Asia, using standard forensic
microscopy to identify prey species. Field identification success varied across study sites, ranging from 21% to
64% genetically confirmed snow leopard scats. Our results confirm the importance of large ungulate prey for
snow leopards. Studies that fail to account for potentially commonplace misidentification of snow leopard
scat may mistakenly include a large percentage of scats originating from other carnivores and report
inaccurate dietary assessments. Relying on field identification of scats led to overestimation of percent
occurrence, biomass, and number of small mammals consumed, but underestimated values of these measures for large ungulates in snow leopard diet. This clarification suggests that the conservation value of secondary prey, such as marmots (Marmota spp.) and other small mammals, may be overstated in the literature; stable snow leopard populations are perhaps more reliant upon large ungulate prey than previously understood.
Johansson, O., Rauset, G. R., Samelius, G., McCarthy, T., Andren, H., Tumursukh, L., Mishra, C. (2016). Land sharing is essential for snow leopard conservation. Biological Conservation, (203), 1–7.
Abstract: Conserving large carnivores in an increasingly crowded planet raises difficult challenges. A recurring debate is whether large carnivores can be conserved in human used landscapes (land sharing) or whether they require specially designated areas (land sparing). Here we show that 40% of the 170 protected areas in the global range of the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) are smaller than the home range of a single adult male and only 4– 13% are large enough for a 90% probability of containing 15 or more adult females. We used data from 16 snow leopards equipped with GPS collars in the Tost Mountains of South Gobi, Mongolia, to calculate home range size and overlap using three different estimators: minimum convex polygons (MCP), kernel utility distributions (Kernel), and local convex hulls (LoCoH). Local convex hull home ranges were smaller and included lower proportions of unused habitats compared to home ranges based on minimum convex polygons and Kernels. Intra-sexual home range overlapwas low, especially for adult males, suggesting that snowleopards are territorial. Mean home range size based on the LoCoH estimates was 207 km2 ± 63 SD for adult males and 124 km2 ± 41 SD for adult females. Our estimates were 6–44 times larger than earlier estimates based on VHF technology when comparing similar estimators, i.e. MCP. Our study illustrates that protected areas alone will not be able to conserve predatorswith large home ranges and conservationists and managers should not restrict their efforts to land sparing.