Impact of Wenchuan earthquake on the giant panda habitat in Wolong National Nature Reserve, China

Cheng Kou, Yu Yue Xu, Chang Qing Ke, Yu Ting He

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3 Scopus citations


Monitoring the change of the giant panda habitat is essential to protect this endangered species. The Wolong National Nature Reserve (WNNR) of China, the giant panda habitat, was struck by the Wenchuan earthquake (M = 8.0) on May 12, 2008, and was seriously damaged. Landsat images covering the WNNR on four dates, one before and three after the earthquake, are classified using support vector machines to generate land cover maps (with an overall accuracy of ∼90% and Kappa coefficients of ∼0.86). The habitat suitability index and weighted usable area (WUA) are calculated to evaluate the changes of the habitat suitability of the WNNR. The results indicate that the forest area dropped by ∼10% due to the earthquake. The forest located in the east of Wolong town, the home of numerous giant pandas, suffered the most. The WUA decreased significantly after the earthquake, and was showing improvement in 2013, although still not fully recovered to the level of priori earthquake. The habitat between 1200 and 1300 m above sea level (m a.s.l.) was particularly vulnerable and was slowly recovering. Further effective management is necessary to restore and protect the giant panda habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14425
JournalJournal of Applied Remote Sensing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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