Refining a niche model for Asiatic black bear with nighttime lighting imagery

A unique team of researchers from the United States, Pakistan and China refined an ecological niche model with artificial nighttime lighting imagery to identify long-term areas for conservation planning and protection of the Asiatic black bear.

Data resources used via GBIF : GBIF and VertNet occurrence data
Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus)

Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) on a Ledge. CC BY-SA 2015 Eric Kilby

Despite its broad range across eastern Russia, northern India and northeastern China, the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is globally red-listed as vulnerable, and its declining population faces rising conflict with humans over habitat and resources. A unique research team from the United States, Pakistan and China modeled the bear’s ecological niche—testing it against data accessed through GBIF, VertNet and other sources—and then looked to refine the resulting measures of long-term suitable habitat. Using data for artificial nighttime lighting as a proxy for human occupancy, the results account for human disturbance while highlighting the most intact regions for long-term conservation and protected area planning.

Escobar LE, Awan MN & Qiao H (2015) Anthropogenic disturbance and habitat loss for the red-listed Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus): Using ecological niche modeling and nighttime light satellite imagery. Biological Conservation 191: 400-407. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.06.040