Liu, Xuehua, Liu, Lanmei, Liu, Linna, Jin, Xuelin, and Songer, Melissa. 2021. "Modeling Potential Dispersal Routes for Giant Pandas in Their Key Distribution Area of the Qinling Mountains, China." Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.636937
The national surveys on giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) population and habitat quality have shown a high-density population of this species in the Qinling Mountains, China. We investigated five adjacent nature reserves (NR), i.e., the key distribution area of giant pandas in the Qinling Mountains, to model and identify the potential dispersal routes for giant pandas. We hypothesized that giant pandas will spread to neighboring areas when the population of the species keeps increasing. Habitat suitability was firstly evaluated based on environmental and disturbance factors. We then identified source and sink patches for giant pandas' dispersal. Further, Minimum Cumulative Resistance (MCR) model was applied to calculate cost of movement. Finally, the Current Theory was adopted to model linkages between source and sink patches to explore potential dispersal routes of giant pandas. Our results showed that (1) the three large source patches and eight potential sink patches were identified; (2) the 14 potential corridors were predicted for giant pandas dispersing from source patches to the neighboring areas; (3) through the predicted corridors, the giant pandas in the source patches could disperse to the west, the south and the east sink patches. Our research revealed possible directional patterns for giant pandas' dispersal in their key distribution area of the Qinling Mountains, and can provide the strong recommendations in policy and conservation strategies for improving giant panda habitat management in those identified sink patches and also potential dispersal corridors.