Effects of human population structure and distribution on panda habitat in Wolong Nature Reserve (China).
Liu, Jianguo (Jack)*,1, An, Li2, He, Guangming1, Liang, Zai3, Linderman, Marc4, Mertig, Angela1, Ouyang, Zhiyun5, Zhang, Hemin6, 1 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA2 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI3 State University of New York, Albany, NY4 University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium5 Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China6 Wolong Nature Reserve, Wenchuan, Sichuan, China
ABSTRACT- Most studies regarding human impacts on the environment were conducted using aggregate variables such as population size or growth rate. Despite the recent recognition that focusing on aggregate variables is not enough, few studies have quantified the relationships between the environment and other aspects of human population such as population structure (e.g., age) and distribution (e.g., arrangement of people into different households). To bridge this gap, we used Wolong Nature Reserve (China) for the endangered giant pandas as an example to understand the effects of changes in population structure and distribution (through human land use) on panda habitat. We focused on two major types of land use: agriculture and fuelwood collection. The former is the main source of food while the latter provides energy for cooking and heating. Combining socioeconomic surveys, field studies, remote sensing techniques, geographic information systems, and modeling, we found that high-quality panda habitat disappeared faster after the reserve was established in 1975, because the number of residents had increased by 70% while the number of households had more than doubled as a result of rapid reduction in the number of people per household. Furthermore, there has been a higher proportion of labor force (20-59 years old) and senior people (60 years or older). In households with senior person(s), more fuelwood is needed for heating. Per capita efficiency of fuelwood use is lower in smaller households than larger households. Our results indicate that changes in population structure and distribution played important roles in ecological degradation such as loss and fragmentation of panda habitat.
Key words: ecological degradation, human population distribution, human impacts, human population structure
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