Journal /
Oral Presentation at ICCB, Kigali Rwanda, July 23-27, 2023

Multifaceted biodiversity of grassland birds indicate the importance of pastoralism for nature conservation of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

Li Li, Xiyuan Guan, Gang Song, Dieter Thomas Tietze

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework advocates for sustainable transformation in food systems, and promoting agricultural multifunctionality is a feasible approach to reach the goal. The eastern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) is one of the world's largest livestock grazing systems and a prominent Asian hotspot for endemic birds. The objective of our study was to explore the impact of livestock grazing intensities (LGI) on QTP bird assemblages at the local scale and their variation across the pastoral landscape (beta diversity). We conducted surveys on 126 bird sample plots in the study area of Nyanpo Yutse during two breeding seasons. In addition, we utilized unmanned aerial vehicles to measure 2D and 3D habitat features in a 150-meter radius. We identified the crucial habitat variables that drive the spatial distribution of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversities of birds, as well as the dissimilarities of species composition across the grassland landscape. Our results indicate no significant correlation between LGIs and taxonomic or phylogenetic diversity of birds. However, functional diversity was positively correlated (p < 0.01) with the proportion of grassland, while phylogenetic diversity positively correlated (p < 0.01) with the proportion of shrubland. At the landscape scale, pairwise LGI differences had no significant correlation (p > 0.05) with any pairwise beta diversity. The beta diversity of the 126 plots demonstrated high species turnover where LGI was lower than 1.065 sheep unit/ha. Our study demonstrates that extensive pastoralism is beneficial in preserving the mosaic landscape and conserving avian biodiversity on the eastern QTP. We revealed ecological mechanisms through which synergies can be realized to support both agricultural production and biodiversity conservation in the Tibetan grazing system.

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