Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effects of highway traffic on diurnal activity of the critically endangered Przewalski’s gazelle

Chunwang Li A , Zhigang Jiang A B C , Zuojian Feng A , Xiaobo Yang A B , Ji Yang A B and Liwei Chen A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

B Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.

C Corresponding author. Email: jiangzg@ioz.ac.cn

Wildlife Research 36(5) 379-385 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR08117
Submitted: 5 August 2008  Accepted: 19 February 2009   Published: 21 July 2009

Abstract

Highway traffic is considered to be one of the factors that influence survival of wildlife. Przewalski’s gazelle is a critically endangered species that lives in the Qinghai Lake watershed of western China. To learn the impacts of traffic on activity patterns of Przewalski’s gazelle, we investigated the relationship between traffic flow and diurnal behaviours of the gazelle on the eastern shore of Qinghai Lake, where a highway was built in 2002. During the summers of 2005 and 2006, we collected traffic data on the highway and observed the activity of the Przewalski’s gazelle population in the area. The results of statistical analysis showed the following: (1) frequency of behaviours such as standing, locomotion, foraging and resting differed among the 15 1-h sampling periods (daytime); (2) numbers of total vehicles, heavy vehicles and light vehicles were significantly different among the daytime hours; (3) there was a positive correlation between the frequency of resting of the gazelles and the number of passing vehicles, and a negative correlation between the frequencies of foraging and alert responses and the number of passing vehicles; (4) by comparing our results with those of a previous study on the gazelles at this site, before the construction of the highway, we found that the diurnal rhythms of foraging, standing and resting have changed markedly (e.g. the three peaks of foraging at 1300, 1600 and 1800 hours in 1996 changed to two peaks of foraging at 0600 and 2000 hours). Our results suggest that the highway traffic may have caused a change in diurnal activity of Przewalski’s gazelle, with the animals tending to keep away from the highway when the traffic flow is high. We suggest traffic-control measures to reduce disturbance to, and thus enhance conservation of, this highly threatened species.


Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the financial support of National Nature Science Foundation (30670267, 30430120, 30670353), and Demo Project of Resource Monitoring and Conservation Technology and Application of Important Species in China (2008BAC39B04). We also sincerely thank Dr Aichun Xu, Dr Qinghu Cui, Dr Zhangqiang You, Ms Hongxia Fang, Ms Yuan Gu, and all people and organisations who made our work possible. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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