Summer habitat selection of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) governs on the unprotected forest and human interface in China

Jing Wang 1 , 2 , Peng Wang 1 , 2 , Achyut Aryal 3 , Xiuxiang Meng 1 , 2  and Robert B. Weladji 4
  • 1 School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China, 100872, Beijing, China
  • 2 College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanxi Agricultural University, 030801, Taigu, China
  • 3 Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 4 Department of Biology, Concordia University, H4 B 1R6, Montreal, QC, Canada

Abstract

The habitat selection by animals depends on different environmental and anthropogenic factors such as the season, climate, and the life cycle stage. Here, we have presented the summer habitat selection strategy of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in the unprotected forest area from the northern arctic region of China. In summer 2012, we investigated a total of 72 used and 162 non-used plots in the reindeer habitat to record habitat variables. We found that the reindeer used significantly higher altitude, arbour availability, and vegetation cover area as compared to the non-used habitat variables. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that six principal components (68.5%) were mainly responsible for the summer habitat selection of reindeer such as the slope position, concealment, anthropogenic dispersion, arbour species, distance from the anthropogenic disturbance area (> 1000 m) and water quality (Wilks’ Lambda = 0.12; P = 0.0001). The local people are largely dependent on forest product resource in these regions, such as bees herding, collecting wild vegetables, hunting, poaching, and grazing. These activities highly influenced the reindeer habitat and its behaviours. This study thus confirmed that reindeers are forced to choose poor habitat in unprotected forest area with high human disturbance or interference. These factors should be considered by the concerned authority or agency to manage reindeer population in the wild.

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