Promotion of Mr Tiejun Wang
Dept. of Natural Resources, ITC (Wageningen University)
Observing giant panda habitat and forage abundance from space
Giant pandas are obligate bamboo grazers. The bamboos favoured by giant pandas are typical forest understorey plants. Therefore, the availability and abundance of understorey bamboo is a key factor in determining the quantity and quality of giant panda food resources. However, there is little or no information about the spatial distribution or abundance of bamboo underneath the forest canopy, due to the limitations of traditional ground survey and remote sensing classification techniques. In this regard, the development of methods that can predict the understorey bamboo spatial distribution and cover abundance is critical for an improved understanding of the habitat, foraging behaviour and distribution of giant pandas, as well as facilitating an optimal conservation strategy for this endangered species.
The objectives of this study were to develop innovative methods in remote sensing and GIS for estimating the giant panda habitat and forage abundance, and to explain the altitudinal migration and the spatial distribution of giant pandas in the fragmented forest landscape.
It was concluded that 1) the vegetation indices derived from winter (leaf-off) satellite images can be successfully used to predict the distribution of evergreen understorey bamboo in a deciduous-dominated forest, 2) winter is the optimal season for quantifying the coverage of evergreen understorey bamboo in a mixed temperate forest, regardless of the classification methods used, 3) a higher mapping accuracy for understorey bamboo in a coniferous-dominated forest can be achieved by using an integrated neural network and expert system algorithm, 4) the altitudinal migration patterns of sympatric giant pandas and golden takins are related to satellite-derived plant phenology (a surrogate of food quality) and bamboo abundance (a surrogate of food quantity), 5) the driving force behind the seasonal vertical migration of giant pandas is the occurrence of bamboo shoots and the temperature variation along an altitudinal gradient, 6) the satellite-derived forest patches occupied by giant pandas were significantly larger and more contiguous than patches where giant pandas were not recorded, indicating that giant pandas appear sensitive to patch size and isolation effects associated with forest fragmentation.
Overall, the study has been shown the potential of satellite remote sensing to map giant panda habitat and forage (i.e., understorey bamboo) abundance. The results are important for understanding the foraging behaviour and the spatial distribution of giant pandas, as well as the evaluation and modelling of giant panda habitat in order to guide decision-making on giant panda conservation.
|Event starts:||Thursday 25 June 2009 at 15:00|
|Organized by:||ITC/Wageningen University|
|City where event takes place:||Enschede|
|Country where event takes place:||Netherlands|