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Distribution range contractions and identification of conservation priority areas for canids in Sichuan Province, China


Xia, Wancai
Grueter, Cyril C.
Zhang, Chao
Zhuang, Hongfei
Hu, Jie
Krzton, Ali
Li, Dayong


Canids are among the numerous taxonomic groups that have recently experienced significant population declines. The reconstruction of distribution range changes using long-term ecological data can reveal processes underlying spatial contractions that short-term studies may not detect. We integrated ecological niche modeling with long-term ecological records to estimate the magnitude of canid range contractions in Sichuan Province over the last 50 years. Our findings indicate that canid distributions underwent sharp contractions between the 1970 s and 2010 s (contraction rates: gray wolf Canis lupus 24.62%, dhole Cuon alpinus 75.65%, red fox Vulpes vulpes 48.63%, Tibetan fox V. ferrilata 26.88%, and raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides 30.84%). Concerning environmental variables, our results suggest that altitude, dd<18 (degree-days below 18 °C, heating degree-days), LUCC (land use), and human population density contributed the most to patterns of canid distribution between the 1970s and 2010s. Canid contraction rates in nature reserves were significantly lower than in other types of protected and non-protected areas. For all study species, 47% of the canid conservation priority areas on average have been protected in Sichuan Province. The Chinese government has recently upgraded canid species’ protection level and established more national parks. However, it is critical to invest in the surveillance of anthropogenic disturbance, compensation schemes for human–wildlife conflict, and public wildlife conservation education.