Projected impacts of climate change on snow leopard habitat in Qinghai Province, China
Ecology and evolution
National park, adaptive strategies, habitat corridors, suitable habitat, vulnerability
Assessing species' vulnerability to climate change is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to reduce emerging climate-related threats. We used the maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt model) to assess potential changes in suitable snow leopard () habitat in Qinghai Province, China, under a mild climate change scenario. Our results showed that the area of suitable snow leopard habitat in Qinghai Province was 302,821 km under current conditions and 228,997 km under the 2050s climatic scenario, with a mean upward shift in elevation of 90 m. At present, nature reserves protect 38.78% of currently suitable habitat and will protect 42.56% of future suitable habitat. Current areas of climate refugia amounted to 212,341 km and are mainly distributed in the Sanjiangyuan region, Qilian mountains, and surrounding areas. Our results provide valuable information for formulating strategies to meet future conservation challenges brought on by climate stress. We suggest that conservation efforts in Qinghai Province should focus on protecting areas of climate refugia and on maintaining or building corridors when planning for future species management.
Li, J., Xue, Y., Hacker, C. E., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Cong, W., Jin, L., Li, G., Wu, B., Li, D., & Zhang, Y. (2021). Projected impacts of climate change on snow leopard habitat in Qinghai Province, China. Ecology and evolution, 11 (23), 17202-17218. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8358