Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2008, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (6): 1417-1425.DOI: 10.3773/j.issn.1005-264x.2008.06.023

• Original article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

INFLUENCE OF THE WENCHUAN EARTHQUAKE ON GIANT PANDA HABITATS AND STRATEGIES FOR RESTORATION

SHEN Guo-Zhen1, XIE Zong-Qiang1,*(), FENG Chao-Yang2, XU Wen-Ting1, GUO Ke1   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science, Beijing, 100012, China
  • Received:2008-08-01 Accepted:2008-08-21 Online:2008-08-01 Published:2008-11-30
  • Contact: XIE Zong-Qiang

Abstract:

Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a flag species for biodiversity conservation. Protecting giant panda and its habitats helps guarantee biodiversity conservation and integrity of ecosystem function. The Wenchuan earthquake occurred in Minshan and Qionglai Mountains, where the most important habitats for giant pandas occur. The earthquake damaged 27 nature reserves for giant pandas and 8.3% of the giant panda habitat. The earthquake and earthquake-induced events such as landslides have important ecological consequences. First, the earthquake damaged bamboo, the main food for giant pandas. At the same time, the earthquake may induce bamboo flowering, which will threaten the food supply of giant pandas. Second, the earthquake and earthquake-induced soil movements and rockslides caused small-scale damage such as treefalls, which will influence forest dynamics through long-term effects on tree mortality, growth and competition. Third, the earthquake will fragment habitats, causing isolation among giant panda populations. Therefore, we propose reassessment of the quality of giant panda habitats at landscape or regional scales and adjustment of the system of nature reserves. In addition, it is necessary to survey and monitor bamboo resources, including their distribution and dynamics, and to regenerate or rejuvenate bamboo. We also propose restoring degraded habitats with natural vegetation and plantings.

Key words: Giant panda, habitat, earthquake, bamboo flowering, habitat fragmentation