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Local ecological knowledge and regional sighting histories of Hainan Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron katsumatae: pessimism or optimism for a threatened island endemic?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 August 2022

Samuel T. Turvey*
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK
Heidi Ma
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK
Tonglei Zhou
College of Forestry, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan 570228, China
Tiantian Teng
College of Forestry, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan 570228, China
Chuyue Yu
College of Forestry, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan 570228, China
Lucy J. Archer
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK Royal Holloway University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK
Xiaodong Rao
College of Forestry, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan 570228, China
Simon D. Dowell
Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester CH2 1EU, UK
Wei Liang
Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Ecology of Tropical Islands, Key Laboratory of Tropical Animal and Plant Ecology of Hainan Province, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou 571158, China
Hui Liu*
College of Forestry, Hainan University, Haikou, Hainan 570228, China
* Author for correspondence: Samuel T. Turvey, Email:
* Hui Liu, Email:


Baseline data on local status of threatened species are often limited, and alternative information sources such as local ecological knowledge (LEK) have potential to provide conservation insights but require critical evaluation. We assess the usefulness of LEK to generate conservation evidence for the Hainan Peacock-pheasant Polyplectron katsumatae, a poorly known threatened island galliform. Interview surveys in rural communities across eight forested landscapes on Hainan provided a new dataset of sightings of Peacock-pheasants and other galliforms. Fewer respondents had seen Peacock-pheasants compared to other species across most landscapes, although Peacock-pheasant sightings showed significant across-landscape variation, with substantially more total and recent sightings from Yinggeling National Nature Reserve. However, validation of interview data with camera trapping data from Houmiling Provincial Nature Reserve, a landscape with few reported sightings, suggests a more optimistic possible status for Peacock-pheasants, which were detected as frequently as Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus and Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera during systematic camera trap placement. Hainan Peacock-pheasant sighting rates might be influenced by various factors (e.g. restricted local access to forests), with absolute abundance possibly greater than expected from limited sightings. Conversely, relative across-landscape abundance patterns from LEK are likely to be valid, as similar detection biases exist across surveyed landscapes.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of BirdLife International

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