2006 Vol. 27, No. 4

Display Method:
This study was designed to introduce a new method of estimating group size and composition of black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) on the basis of faecal amount at sleeping sites at Mt. Baima Nature Reserve. The monkeys spend nights in the form of one-male, multi-female units (OMUs) and all-male units (AMU), and their faecal pellets can be classified into three categories: adult males (the largest), adult females (moderate) and immatures (the smallest) based on their size. Total pellets were counted under sleeping trees used for two nights at Nanren village (99°04′E, 28°34′N, northwest of Yunnan Province, China) in each of four seasons in 2000-2001. Moreover, data on group composition were collected when the monkeys were passing through an open gully in November 2001. Since the number of adults in OMUs shows a positive significant correlation with the amount of pellets amount in each season, the mean number of feces produced per night per individual is the slope of the regression lines. Thus, group size and composition can be relatively reliably and accurately estimated by the faeces under trees compared with the previous methods of estimation, including the use of monkeys' activities and tracks such as broken branches on steep slopes, in deep gorges and under lower visibility. The use of pellets for population estimates displayed 9.4% deviation in regards to population size of adult females. Some causes of the bias were also discussed. The method might be applicable to other monkey groups of this species if their habitats and main foods are similar to those of the study group.
We investigated the long-lasting effects of early postnatal tactile stimulation (TS) and maternal separation (MS) on the emotional behaviors of adult female rats. A split-litter design was introduced to remove confusing factors such as maternal disturbance. Pups of the non-tactile stimulation (NTS) group did not receive any handling. Pups subjected to the TS treatment were handled and marked for approximately 30 s daily from postnatal days (PND) 2-9 or from PND 10-17. Pups subjected to the MS treatment were handled and marked in the same way as the TS pups and then individually placed in a cup with familiar nest bedding for 1 h daily. At the age of 3 months, female rats with different neonatal experiences were employed in the light/dark box test and the one-trial passive avoidance response. Both PND 2-9 TS and PND 10-17 TS groups exhibited more time spent in the illuminated chamber of the light/dark box, and longer step-through latencies in the passive avoidance response when compared to the NTS group, indicating that early life TS treatment reduced novelty-induced anxious emotion and facilitated the retention of emotional memory in adult female rats. No significant effects were found on any behavioral measures between the MS groups and the TS groups, suggesting that neonatal short-time MS treatment was not intensive enough to alter the emotional behaviors, at least in female rats. Infantile age was not an effective factor for these measures. This result supports the hypothesis that neonatal tactile stimulation and maternal separation lead to different effects on the neural development of postnatal pups.
The population dynamics and breeding behaviors of Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), Egrets (Egtetta garzetta), Chinese Pond Herons (Ardeola bacchus) and Great Egrets (Casmerodius albus) were observed in Tanghai Wetlands, Hebei Province from August 2004 to July 2005. Further, we studied the relationship of nest space distribution and directly calculated the nest density of vertical and horizontal levels, the niche overlapping index and the niche breadth. The results showed that there were two breeding areas, named AreaⅠ and Area Ⅱ. The maximum population occurred in the period from April to September and was approximately 5800 individuals. Area Ⅰwas occupied earlier than Area Ⅱ by approximately half a month. In the breeding period, Black-crowned Night Herons were dominant in numbers and most occupied the upper nests of the core areas. Great Egrets also took the upper nests but they have the smallest population. Most Egrets took the middle nests of the edges of the area. Chinese Pond Herons, with a smaller population than the Egret, mostly nested in the edges, but some of them also took the lower nests of the core area. On the whole, the vertical niche of Egrets is the widest, the horizontal niche of Blackcrowned Night Herons is the widest and the niche breadth of Chinese Pond Herons is the largest. The nest distribution pattern is the most similar between Chinese Pond Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons, and the niche overlapping index of Chinese Pond Herons and Egrets is the largest. Black-crowned Night Herons and Great Egrets control Egrets and Chinese Pond Herons in competition. Rich food and the optimal ecological environments lead to plenty of herons in the wetlands. In addition, it is a distinguishing feature of the four species that nests are built in poplar trees over 22 m tall.
From January to March 2005, the effects of group size on the vigilance behavior of wintering Common Cranes Grus grus were studied at Lashihai Lake, Yunnan Province, China. We used scan sampling to record the group sizes and the number of vigilant individuals in each group, and focal sampling to record the frequency and duration of individual vigilance behavior. Both the vigilance efforts of groups and individuals significantly decreased as group size increased, but when the group size exceeded 30 individuals, the decrease of group vigilance became not significant (P>0.05), and the vigilance duration of adult cranes increased (P<0.01). The vigilance frequency of adults increased (P<0.05) when the size exceeded 50 individuals. Presumably, the maximal group size allowing the lowest vigilance for juvenile cranes was larger than that for adults, and the flocks composed of 20 to 30 individuals represented the optimal group size of wintering Common Cranes by considering only the vigilance behavior. Further research should focus on the synthesized effects of various factors.
The morphological phylogeny of the water snake subfamily Homalopsinae, containing 10 genera, of which seven are monotypic, was not reported up until now. Here fourteen morphological characters were selected for the cladistic analysis. Using software Hennig 86, two phylogenetic trees were inferred and the results showed that the subfamily Homalopsinae was divided into two groups. Compared with the molecular phylonenetic tree of Voris et al(2002), the genera Gerarda and Fordonia are sister groups in both studies; both studies also yielded the same monophyletic lineage, which contained three genera (Cerberus+Erpeton+Homalopsis). However, the position of the genus Cantoria is distinctly different with the study of Voris et al(2002).
Diaphanes is the fourth largest genus in Lampyridae, but no luciferase gene from this genus has been reported. In this paper, by PCR amplification of the genomic DNA, the luciferase gene of Diaphanes pectinealis, which is the first case from Diaphanes, was identified and sequenced. The luciferase gene from D. pectinealis spans 1958 base pairs (bp) from the start to the stop codon, including seven exons separated by six introns, and encoding a 547-residuelong polypeptide. Its deduced amino acid sequence showed high protein similarity to those of the Lampyrini tribe (93-94%) and the Cratomorphini tribe (92%), while low similarity was found with the North American firefly Photinus pyralis (83%) of the Photinini tribe within the same subfamily Lampyrinae. The phylogenetic analysis performed with the deduced amino acid sequences of the luciferase gene further confirms that D. pectinealis, Pyrocoelia, Lampyris, Cratomorphus, and Photinus belong to the same subfamily Lampyrinae, and Diaphanes is closely related to Pyrocoelia, Lampyris, and Cratomorphus. Furthemore, the phylogenetic analysis based on the nucleotide sequences of the luciferase gene indicates Diaphanes is a sister to Lampyris. The phylogenetic analyses are partly consistent with morphological (Branham & Wenzel, 2003) and mitochondrial DNA analyses (Li et al, 2006).
PCR using two degenerated primers designed on the basis of the conserved region of mammals and fish uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) gene yielded a cDNA fragment of 620 bp in the liver of silver carp. This cDNA fragment was completed by 5′ and 3′ RACE. The full-length silver carp UCP2 cDNA clone was 1 452 bp in length, containing an open reading frame of 933 bp (encoding 310 amino acids), flanked by 337 bp 5′UTR and 182 bp 3′UTR. The deduced amino acid sequence from this UCP2 cDNA fragment contains three signature motifs of mitochondrial transporter protein, and UCP-specific sequences. Tissue-expression analysis revealed that the silver carp UCP2 was highly expressed in intestine, liver, muscle and adipose tissue, but lower in brain tissue. This tissue expression pattern is consistent with the microcystins distribution among these tissues, suggesting that UCP2 expression level has a close relationship with the overproduced ROS which is induced by microcystins.
This experiment was designed to examine the spindle organization, and chromosomal and microfilament distribution of vitrified porcine oocytes. The germinal vesicle -stage (GV stage) oocytes were aspirated from antral follicles (2-5 mm in diameter). All Metaphase Ⅱ-stage (MⅡ stage) oocytes used in the experiment were derived from GV oocytes matured in vitro. Either GV or MⅡ stage oocytes were divided into three groups:the control group, the group treated with vitrification solution, and the vitrified group. Vitrified-warmed MⅡ oocytes derived from maturation in vitro were directly used for Laser-Scanning Confocal Microscopy (LSCM); vitrified-warmed GV oocytes were firstly cultured for 44 h and then used for LSCM. Oocytes used for the experiment were fixed and stained by immunofluorescence and were then observed by LSCM. The percentage of GV stage oocytes treated with vitrification solution with normal spindle organization, chromosome alignment and actin filaments (F-actin) distribution was 42.9%, 89.6% and 28.6%, respectively. These were significantly higher than those from the vitrified group of GV stage oocytes (10.1%, 36.4% and 16.9%, respectively; P<0.05). The values for GV oocytes treated with vitrification solution were all significantly lower than those from the control, except for the percentage with normal chromosome alignment (79.5%, 93.1% and 72.3%, respectively, P<0.05). The percentage of MⅡ stage oocytes from the group treated with vitrification solution and from the vitrified group with normal spindle organization, chromosome alignment and actin filaments (F-actin) distribution were 34.4% versus 12.9%, 61.3% versus 56.7%, and 47.9% versus 37.2%, respectively. These were significantly lower than those from the control (78.3%, 90.1% and 72.8%, respectively; P<0.05). Results from this experiment suggest that irreversible damage to the cytoskeleton of porcine GV and MⅡ oocytes after vitrification could be an important factor affecting the maturation, fertility and subsequent development of the oocytes.
Previous studies of the habitat utilization of amphibians in China have lacked robust descriptive and qualitative data. The aufhors measured 12 ecological factors in a one meter radius of each frog found in order to describe habitat utilization. One hundred and thirty-three individuals of Rana pleuraden and 62 of R. chaochiaoensis were found and recorded. Two independent sample T tests and nonparametric Mann-Whitney U tests were used for comparison of habitat utilization between the two frog species. The results indicate that in dry grass niches, only the highest plant height is significantly. In moist grass niches, the distance to water and percentage of water in the habitat is highly significantly different; percentage of float grass and wet mud is also significantly different. In water bodies, various ecological factors are significantly different. The results of a principal components analysis show that in different niches, the main ecological factors selected by R. pleuraden and R. chaochiaoensis are usually the same or their order is reversed. However, the importance of these factors is almost opposite, which means that their niches are different. Habitat utilization is therefore different and is actively selected by the two frog species. R. pleuraden chooses to live mainly in water bodies while R. chaochiaoensis lives in moist grass and dry grass niches. Both species of frog utilize muddy niches less than other niches. The body size of R. pleuraden does not affect their use of water habitats. However, larger R. chaochiaoensis utilize moist grass and dry grass niches more often than smaller individuals due to the ability of these habitats to conceal larger animals. They also utilize water bodies less than smaller individuals.
A survey on the grouping patterns of sympatric Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) and the Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata) was conducted from June to July and September, 2005 in the upper Buha river, Tianjun county, Qinghai province, China. Group types of the two Chinese endemic gazelles could be classified into female group, male group, mixed group and motheroffspring group. Of these four types, the male groups were 41% and 50% of the total in Przewalski's gazelle and the Tibetan gazelle, respectively. The female groups were 34% and 30% of the total in Przewalski's gazelle and the Tibetan gazelle, respectively. Sizes of different group types of Przewalski's gazelle were not significantly different, expect the mother-offspring groups (P=0.015). The frequency of solitary gazelles, 2-8 individuals and >9 individuals were 21.9%, 62.6% and 15.5% of the total in Przewalski's gazelle respectively and 18.7%, 67.6% and 13.7% of the total in the Tibetan gazelle respectively. While group sizes of the male groups and the mixed groups increased insignificantly after lambing, the female group size decreased significantly in both Przewalski's gazelle and the Tibetan gazelle (Przewalski's gazelle: P<0.001, Tibetan gazelle: P=0.002). Consequently, average group size decreased significantly in both gazelles (Przewalski's gazelle: P=0.014, Tibetan gazelle: P=0.008). There were no significant differences in group patterns between Przewalski's gazelle and the Tibetan gazelle during the green grass period.
Winter bedding sites used by the roe deer Capreolus capreolus were studied using a resource selection function in the wetland of Sanjinag National Nature Reserve, Heilongjiang Province, from January to March 1999. Site characteristics were measured at the bedding sites and control sites. Roe deer selected diurnal bedding sites with island forest and clumps of reeds, denser canopy closure (>10%), higher numbers of new shoots (>30 individuals), moderate hiding cover (90%-99%), closer to water resources (<400 m), closer to croplands (<500 m), higher temperate index (>0.2 ℃), deeper snow (>31 cm) and farther from human disturbance (>1 000 m). At night, roe deer preferred bedding below island forests, denser canopy closure (>10%), higher numbers of new shoots (>30 individuals), mild hiding cover (<90%), moderate distance from water resources (<700 m), farther from croplands (>500 m), higher temperate index (>0.2 ℃) and farther from human disturbance (>1 000 m). Roe deer showed significant differences in use of scraped beds by deer, distance from cropland, snow depth, distance from human disturbance and width of beds between day and night. Day beds were associated with closer proximity to cropland, deeper snow and were narrower than night beds. The resource selection function of day beds used by roe deer is a logistical regression model: logit(P)=-13.999-0.446×vegetation type-0.003×distance from water resource-0.003×distance from cropland+0.915×temperate index+0.487×snow depth+0.001×distance from human disturbance. The selection probability is therefore: P=e logit(P)/1+e logit(P) . The model correctly classified 90.9% of day bed sites. The resource selection function of night beds by roe deer is: log it(P)=-0.009-1.863×vegetation type-0.004×distance from water resource+0.946×temperate index+0.002×distance from human disturbance. We can estimate the selection probability from this model: P=elogit(P)/1+e logit(P) . This model correctly classified 91.8% of night bed sites.
The characteristics of macrobenthic fauna communities in the three salt marsh successional stages [saline algae stage (SA), Scirpus mariqueter-Scirpus triqueter stage (MT) and Phragmites australis-Spartina alternflora stage (AA)] were studied during 2001 to 2005, in new emergent shoals, Jiuduansha (Shangsha, Zhongsha and Xiasha), an estuary of the Yangtze River. The results showed that the Shannon-Wiener index, the Pielous Evenness index, the density and the biomass of the communities in each shoal all had the same sequence for these successional stages. This sequence was MT>AA>SA. The dominant life forms at SA and AA stages were infaunal and caving respectively, while those at MT were adhering and caving. The community structures at the same successional stage in the three different shoals were all quite similar and those at the SA stages had even more similarities. However, there were obvious differences among the community structures at the three successional stages, especially between those at SA and AA. These results implied that there was some environmental gradient variation along the successional sequence, and that the salt marsh of the different successional stages had different effects on the macrobenthic fauna communities. Accordingly, the macrobenthic fauna had some adaptation properties to the specific habitats of the different stages.
Thirty-six habitat characteristics of Chinese crocodile lizards (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) were studied from July to August 2005 in the Luokeng Nature Reserve in Guangdong Province. In the distribution area of Chinese crocodile lizards in the Nature Reserve, we selected 30 streams by chance and used the line transect method to survey the animals and measured 15 ecological factors of the habitats of the animals. Results from Principle Components Analysis showed that nine ecological factors affected the habitat preference of Chinese crocodile lizards significantly. These included: the width, and length of the backwater pool, the distance to water bodies, the water velocity, perch height, perch diameter, the distance to human disturbance, vegetation coverage, and vegetation type. The influence of the composition of the pool bottom, the water depth, living and dry condition of the perch, perch slope, stream type and slope aspect were not significant. The habitat preference of Chinese crocodile lizards is: middle width (1-2 m) and length (1-2 m) of backwater pool, above the water body, slow water velocity, middle perch height (0.5-1.0 m), small perch diameter (≤1.00 cm), far away from human disturbance (distance>500 m), broadleaf forest and coverage >60%. It is necessary to improve the awareness of residents, protect water and conserve forest and vegetation on both sides of streams.
Mt. Gaoligongshan is located in northwest Yunnan province and is approximately 600 kilometres from the north to the south. It is higher in altitude in the north and lower in the south with about 4900 vertical metres difference in this region. According to its topography and climate, Mt. Gaoligongshan could be divided into southern, central and northern parts. Twenty-one pheasant species in this region were recorded using field investigation, interviews and literature checking. The pheasant diversity decreased with the rise in elevation, and also from the south to the north. There were only nine species above 2 500 m altitude and 12 species under 2 500 m. There were 13, 11 and 12 species respectively in the north, central and south areas. Habitat destruction and hunting are the main threats to the survival of pheasants in this region. For better protection for the pheasants in this region, we suggest strengthening habitat management and restoration, establishing habitat corridors, strengthening public environmental education and developing bird-watching tourism.
This study compared the behavioural differences of broiler breeders reared under two different densities (Singly-caged: 1 600 cm2 per hen; Paired: 800 cm2 per hen), and in shadowed cages with a half-covering layer on their tops versus controls in order to evaluate the laying preferences of the species in dark versus light regions. The results showed that singly-caged broiler breeders displayed turn-around and head-scratch behaviours more than paired breeders, while singly-caged breeders presented wing-flap behaviours less than paired breeders. Single and paired breeders spent both more time eating in cages which were partially covered than those in control cages. Singly-caged breeders were more likely to lay in the dark region in shadowed cages than paired breeders. These results suggested that broiler breeders exhibited normal behaviours more often when raised in a larger living space and in shadowed cages. Although stocking density has more impact on behaviour and welfare for broiler layers than light environment, being shadowed can reduce overcrowding effect and may alleviate the worse welfare appearance for caged broiler breeders.
Of eight traditionally classified subspecies of the tiger Panthera tigris three have recently gone extinct and poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation continue to threaten its survival. China historically harbors four of the existing subspecies and thus has high conservation priority, yet their status, both in the wild and captivity, remains highly uncertain. A recent molecular survey (Luo et al, 2004) of 134 “voucher specimens” (taken from tigers of verified wild ancestry and geographic origin), from across the full range including China, examined three different types of molecular markers; four kilobase-pairs of mitochondrial DNA, 30 nuclear microsatellite loci and the nuclear major histocompatibility complex class Ⅱ DRB gene; to elucidate the genetic structure of tiger populations. The data revealed relatively low genetic variation but nonetheless significant population subdivisions, suggesting six rather than five living subspecies: (1) Amur tiger P. t. altaica, (2) South China tiger P. t. amoyensis, (3) a refined Indochinese tiger P. t. corbetti, (4) a new subspecies Malayan tiger P. t. jacksoni, named after the tiger conservationist Peter Jackson, (5) Sumatran tiger P. t. sumatrae, and (6) Bengal tiger P. t. tigris. Reduced gene flow and genetic drift in isolated populations since the last genetic diminution about 72 000-108 000 years ago, as well as the recent anthropogenic range contraction, is likely to have caused these partitions. In particular, the proposed South China tiger lineage is tentative due to limited sampling. It is apparent that current captive South China tigers inherit at least two genetic lineages: one that is unique and distinct from the other subspecies and a second indistinguishable from the northern Indochinese tigers. An explicit genetic assessment of the captive tigers in China is urgently needed to validate the uniqueness or nonuniqueness of the South China tiger, or indeed the survival of P. t. amoyensis.