Potential habitat suitability assessment of Amur tiger(Panthera tigris altaica) in Lesser Khingan Mountains based on MaxEnt model
Lesser Khingan Mountains territory is situated in the areas of Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) historical distribution. In recent years, Amur tiger individuals have been registered in Lesser Khingan Mountains several times. That indicates the possibility of population restoration exists. To check the suitability of Lesser Khingan Mountains as the habitat for Amur tiger, this research has been developed. We investigated region of Lesser Khingan Mountains (PRC), Amur Region and Jewish Autonomous Region of Russian Federation as the research area. As the base for modeling we’ve used the GPS coordinates that were received from tagged reintroduced Amur tigers during the project of tiger recovering organized by Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences at 2013-2015 on the territory of Russia. Here we adopted point data to the MaxEnt model, and included the environmental data of vegetation, climate, terrain and snow cover as factors, to analyze the suitability and distribution of the potential habitat of Amur tiger in Lesser Khingan Mountains under the natural environment conditions. The results show that the potential suitable habitat area of Amur tiger in Lesser Khingan Mountains is 9600-10300 km2, and it is mainly located in the North and East part of Lesser Khingan Mountains, with a small amount of scattered suitable habitat in the middle, west and southeast part. The sub suitable habitat area is 24600-27600 km2, and is mainly located in the surrounding area of suitable habitat. The difference between leaf and shrub layer, evapotranspiration, normalized vegetation index, leaf area index, precipitation seasonality and precipitation in the coldest season are the main environmental variables affecting the habitat suitability of Amur tiger. The Lesser Khingan Mountains still have the natural conditions for the existence of Amur tiger population.