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Cabot's tragopan Tragopan caboti is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, listed on Appendix I of CITES and is endemic to China. Habitat loss and fragmentation are believed to be the main causes of decreases in abundance of the species. Wuyishan National Natural Reserve supports a relatively stable population of the tragopan but is bisected by a clay road through the core area. This study used direct observation and radio telemetry to investigate the impact of the road on the species. We found that weather was the most important factor affecting the number of individuals actually seen on the road, and the volume of traffic was the main factor affecting the behaviour of individuals, especially at dusk. The road does not appear to be a barrier for Cabot's tragopan but appropriate management is required to ensure the continued survival of the species at this site.
Understanding the status of fragmented populations and predicting their fate is an increasingly important part of bird conservation. Population viability analysis (PVA) can help in this process and is widely used for assessing the extinction risk faced by threatened species and for finding the key factors affecting population status and survival prospects. From 1982 to 2004, 14 scientists studied the population of the globally threatened Cabot's Tragopan Tragopan caboti in Wuyanling National Natural Reserve (WNNR), south-east China and collected life-history data on the population. Using VORTEX, we analysed the viability of the population in the reserve and this predicted that the population size will increase for the next 50 years and will then show a very slight decline for the next 50 years. The loss of heterozygosity is predicted to be 14%, suggesting that the population may not be viable in the long term. Sensitivity analyses showed that nest loss is the most important factor affecting population size and the survival probability of the population, which is supported by field studies. Though the new evidence shows that Cabot's Tragopan can build nests in spruce forest successfully, broad-leaf forest is still necessary for them for foraging, especially at some times of the year. The simulation also shows that the probability of survival and the size of the population will decrease markedly if the extent of suitable habitat is reduced even relatively slowly (such as 0.1% per year). Overall, we conclude that the PVA has provided very informative guidance to future management and research on Cabot's Tragopan at Wuyanling National Nature Reserve.
Many species of China's Galliformes live in forests and it is often difficult to assess populations of species in these habitats. Such assessments are becoming increasingly important because much of China's forest has been altered through logging and other forms of human activity. After describing and mapping habitat types, we assessed two commonly used methods for counting pheasants (transects and point counts at dawn) in the Xianshennongjia Mountains in the Three Gorges area of Hubei Province in east-central China. Four pheasant species were recorded: Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus, Temminck's Tragopan Tragopan temmincki, Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha and Common (or Ring-necked) Pheasant Phasianus colchicus. Golden Pheasants were detected most often by calls heard during transects and Koklass were recorded mostly during point counts at dawn. Temminck's Tragopan was detected during transects (by sightings) and also by calls at dawn. The relatively few Common Pheasants that were detected were registered mainly during transects. Golden Pheasants were found at the lowest altitudes, closest to human habitation and both Temminck's Tragopan and Koklass lived in various forest types above this. Common Pheasant was found in meadows at higher altitudes. We conclude that the methods used can determine general habitat use, but that no one method is likely to prove sufficient to unravel the detailed pattern of habitat use across all four species. In particular, further study is required to assess the relative importance of different forest types to Golden Pheasant, Temminck's Tragopan and Koklass. It would appear that human impact on the forest has affected the distribution of the pheasant species. For example, Common Pheasant is now absent from low-lying areas and occurs at what appears to be an unusually high altitude in the study area.
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