Skip to main content Accessibility help

Modeling the distribution of Nonggang Babbler Stachyris nonggangensis, a threatened bird of limestone karst forests of the Sino-Vietnam border, and implications for its conservation

  • DEMENG JIANG (a1) (a2), EBEN GOODALE (a1), GANG YANG (a3), LIJIANG YU (a4), AIWU JIANG (a1) and XU LUO (a2)...


Information on the geographic distribution of a species is fundamental for its conservation. Nonggang Babbler Stachyris nonggangensis (NB) is a rare and newly discovered species that is restricted to limestone karst forest on the Sino-Vietnamese border and has been classified as ‘Vulnerable’ due to its narrow distribution. However, the extent of the habitat suitable for NB is poorly known. We conducted a species distribution model (SDM) using 33 occurrence data and nine environmental variables. The SDM suggested highly suitable habitat covers 541 km2, and habitat with a medium and low level of suitability covers 3,218 km2 and 722 km2, respectively. Of the entire suitable habitat (low through high), 25.8% is in northern Vietnam and the rest is in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, southern China (especially concentrated in northern Longzhou and southern Daxing Counties). Unfortunately, only 12.4% of the entire suitable habitat is known to be occupied, and the habitat outside the reserves is highly threatened by fragmentation and degradation. Globally, NB is apparently isolated in only four sites, including one site in which we discovered its presence during field validation of the model. Based on this work, we suggest upgrading NB to the ‘Endangered’ category on the IUCN Red List and adding it to the list of endangered species of both China and Vietnam.


Corresponding author

*Authors for correspondence:;


Hide All
De Lima, R., Sampaio, H., Dunn, J., Cabinda, G., Fonseca, R., OquiongoG., . . . G., . . . and Buchanan, G. (2017) Distribution and habitat associations of the critically endangered bird species of São Tomé Island (Gulf of Guinea). Bird Conserv. Internatn. 27: 455469.
Eames, J. C. and Truong, N. V. (2016) The discovery of Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis) in Vietnam. Birding ASIA 26: 2931.
Eduardo, P. and Jorge, M. L. (2009) Assessing the accuracy of species distribution models to predict amphibian species richness patterns. J. Anim. Ecol. 78: 182190.
Elith, J. and Leathwick, J. R. (2009) Species distribution models: Ecological explanation and prediction across space and time. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 40: 677697.
Elith, J., Graham, C. H., Anderson, R. P., Dudik, M., Ferrier, S., Guisan, A., ...and Zimmermann, N. E. (2006) Novel methods improve prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence data. Ecography. 29: 129151.
Gedeon, K., Rodder, D., Zewdie, C. and Topeer, T. (2018) Evaluating the conservation status of the Black-fronted Francolin Pternistis atrifrons. Bird Conserv Internatn. 28: 653661.
Goodale, U. M., Stern, M. J., Margoluis, C., Lanfer, A. G. and Fladeland, M. (2003) Transboundary protected areas: The viability of regional conservation strategies. New York: Forest Products Press.
Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahozmonfort, J. J., Elith, J., Gordon, A., Kujala, H., Lentini, P. E., ...and Wintle, B. A. (2015) Is my species distribution model fit for purpose? Matching data and models to applications. Global. Ecol. Biogeogr. 24: 276292.
Guisan, A. and Thuiller, W. (2005) Predicting species distribution: Offering more than simple habitat models. Ecol. Lett. 8: 9931009.
Guisan, A., Tingley, R., Baumgartner, J. B., Naujokaitislewis, I., Sutcliffe, P., Tulloch, A. I., ...and Buckley, Y. M. (2013) Predicting species distributions for conservation decisions. Ecol. Lett. 16: 14241435.
Hernandez, P. A., Graham, H. C., Master, L. L. and Albert, D. L. (2006) The effect of sample size and species characteristics on performance of different species distribution modeling methods. Ecography 29: 773785.
Hu, J. and Liu, Y. (2014) Unveiling the conservation biogeography of a data-deficient endangered bird species under climate change. PLoS ONE 9: e84529.
Jiang, A., Zhou, F. and Liu, N. (2014) Significant recent ornithological records from the limestone area of south-west Guangxi, south China. Forktail 30: 122129.
Jiang, A., Zhou, F., Wu, Y. and Liu, N. (2013) First breeding records of Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis) in a limestone area in southern China. Wilson. J. Ornithol. 125: 609615.
Li, Z., Zhou, F., Lu, Z., Jiang, A., Yang, G. and Yu, C. (2013) Distribution, habitat and status of the new species Nonggang Babbler Stachyris nonggangensis. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 23: 437444.
Liu, C., Berry, P. M., Dawson, T. P. and Pearson, R. G. (2005) Selecting thresholds of occurrence in the prediction of species distributions. Ecography 28: 385393.
Liu, C., White, M. and Newell, G. (2013) Selecting thresholds for the prediction of species occurrence with presence-only data. J. Biogeogr. 40: 778789.
Moore, R. P., Robinson, W. D., Lovette, I. J. and Robinson, T. R. (2008) Experimental evidence for extreme dispersal limitation in tropical forest birds. Ecol. Lett. 11: 960968.
Newbold, T., Gilbert, F., Zalat, S., Elgabbas, A. and Reader, T. (2009) Climate-based models of spatial patterns of species richness in Egypt’s butterfly and mammal fauna. J. Biogeogr. 36: 20852095.
Pearson, R. G., Raxworthy, C. J., Nakamura, M. and Peterson, A. T. (2006) Predicting species distributions from small numbers of occurrence records: A test case using cryptic geckos in Madagascar. J. Biogeogr. 34: 102117.
Phillips, S. J. (2017) A brief tutorial on MaxEnt . Available at: Date last accessed: August, 2018.
Phillips, S. J. and Dudík, M. (2008) Modeling of species distributions with Maxent: new extensions and a comprehensive evaluation. Ecography 31: 161175.
Phillips, S. J., Anderson, R. P. and Schapire, R. E. (2006) Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol. Model. 190: 231259.
Pulliam, H. R. (1988) Sources, sinks, and population regulation. Am. Nat. 132: 652661.
Pulliam, H. R. (2000) On the relationship between niche and distribution. Ecol. Lett. 3: 349361.
Stockwell, D. R. B. and Peterson, A. T. (2002) Effects of sample size on accuracy of species distribution models. Ecol. Model. 148: 113.
Vetaas, O. R. (2002) Realized and potential climate niches: A comparison of four Rhododendron tree species. J. Biogeogr. 29: 545554.
Walther, B. A., Schaffer, N., Van Niekerk, A., Thuiller, W., Rahbek, C. and Chown, S. L. (2007) Modeling the winter distribution of a rare and endangered migrant, the Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. Ibis 149: 701714.
Wisz, M. S., Hijmans, R. J., Li, J., Peterson, A. T., Graham, C. H. and Guisan, A. (2008) Effects of sample size on the performance of species distribution models. Divers. Distrib. 14: 763773.
Yang, G., Lu, Z., Yu, C., Jiang, A, Meng, Y. and Zhou, F. (2012) Seasonal feeding site selection of the Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis) in Nonggang, Guangxi, China. Zool Res. 33: 433438 (in Chinese with English abstract).
Zhou, F. and Jiang, A. (2008) A new species of babbler (Timaliidae: Stachyris) from the Sino-Vietnamese border region of China. Auk 125: 420424.
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Jiang et al. supplementary material
Jiang et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (2.4 MB)
2.4 MB

Modeling the distribution of Nonggang Babbler Stachyris nonggangensis, a threatened bird of limestone karst forests of the Sino-Vietnam border, and implications for its conservation

  • DEMENG JIANG (a1) (a2), EBEN GOODALE (a1), GANG YANG (a3), LIJIANG YU (a4), AIWU JIANG (a1) and XU LUO (a2)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed