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Simulation of potential habitat overlap between red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in northeastern China.


ABSTRACT: Background. Understanding species distribution, especially areas of overlapping habitat between sympatric species, is essential for informing conservation through natural habitat protection. New protection strategies should simultaneously consider conservation efforts for multiple species that exist within the same landscape, which requires studies that include habitat overlap analysis. Methods. We estimated the potential habitat of cervids, which are typical ungulates in northern China, using the present locations of red deer (Cervus elaphus; N = 90) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus; N = 106) in a Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) model. Our study area was a human-dominated landscape in the Tieli Forestry Bureau located at the southern slope of the Lesser Xing'an Mountains. We grouped 17 environmental predictor variables into five predictor classes (terrain, habitat accessibility, land cover, vegetation feature, and interference), which were used to build habitat suitability models. Results. Habitat accessibility and human interferences were found to have the strongest influence on habitat suitability among the five variable classes. Among the environmental factors, distance to farmland (26.8%), distance to bush-grass land (14.6%), elevation (13.5%), and distance to water source (12.2%) were most important for red deer, distance to farmland (22.9%), distance to settlement (21.4%), elevation (11.6%), and coverage of shrub-grass (8%) were most important for roe deer. Model accuracy was high for both species (mean area under the curve (AUC) = 0.936 for red deer and 0.924 for roe deer). The overlapping habitat comprised 89.93 km(2) within the study area, which occupied 94% of potentially suitable habitat for red deer and 27% for roe deer. Conclusions. In terms of habitat suitability, roe deer showed greater selectivity than red deer. The overlapping habitat was mostly located in the eastern mountains. The southwestern plain was not a suitable habitat for deer because it was close to Tieli City. Regarding management measures, we suggest that priority protection should be given to the potential areas of overlapping deer habitats found in this study.

SUBMITTER: Wu W 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4806631 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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