Predicting and understanding spatio-temporal dynamics of species recovery: implications for Asian crested ibis Nipponia nippon conservation in China

Yiwen Sun*, Tiejun Wang, Andrew K. Skidmore, Stephen C. F. Palmer, Xinping Ye, Changqing Ding, Qi Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Aim Some threatened species are now recovering after a period of serious decline. Understanding and predicting the spatio-temporal recolonization of these species in a heterogeneous landscape are important for their conservation planning. We aimed to predict the range expansion of the endangered Asian crested ibis Nipponia nippon as it recovers from near-extinction to guide its in situ conservation and plan possible reintroductions.

Location Central China.

Methods We used a presence-only ecological niche model to predict breeding habitat suitability and a newly developed, spatially explicit and individual-based dynamic modelling platform to simulate range expansion. We performed a sensitivity analysis to assess the effects of uncertainty in demographic and dispersal parameters on the simulation of range dynamics. The impact of human-induced mortality risk was also investigated.

Results Predictions showed that the Asian crested ibis population and the range extent would continue to increase over the next 50 years, and the species would recolonize parts of its historical range. However, the majority of the population would still be restricted to a relatively small region, and some potential suitable regions might not be recolonized for decades by natural dispersal. Moreover, the simulated range dynamics were sensitive to life history trait parameters, among which adult survival probability and the proportion of long-distance dispersal events showed the strongest effects. High human-induced mortality risks had a significant negative effect on population growth and range expansion.

Main conclusions This study demonstrates how hybrid modelling can inform conservation management of threatened species as they recolonize former habitat. The findings enable prioritization of management efforts, highlight the need for long-term monitoring of the key life history parameters and provide evidence to guide the selection of potential reintroduction sites for the long-term survival and recovery of target species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-904
Number of pages12
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • dispersal
  • habitat suitability
  • range expansion
  • spatially explicit individual-based model
  • species recovery
  • threatened species


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