Beyond pandas, the need for a standardized monitoring protocol for large mammals in Chinese nature reserves
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- Li, S., Wang, D., Gu, X. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2010) 19: 3195. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9886-x
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Monitoring programs are important for effective conservation and management programs. However, most of these programs rely on indirect sign surveys of elusive animals that often leave cryptic signs of their presence. In Sichuan Province, China, sign surveys are oriented mainly toward giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) populations but also are used to track other nationally listed species. We have developed and tested a monitoring system based on camera-trapping that can detect a wide range of large, terrestrial mammal and bird species within the reserves of Sichuan. This system is embedded within current protected area patrolling activities and relies on a partnership of management agencies, universities and international organizations. The international organizations and national universities primarily provide the training and assist with study design and data analysis. Data management and access is controlled at the regional level by the appropriate state agencies. Limitations to this system include the need for additional training and support to less developed reserves and the long-term availability of funds to support field staff. However, the potential return on investment is a consistent tracking of multiple species across diverse set of reserves, facilitating comparative analysis of results that will assist in adaptive management throughout the region.