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Mountain Ecosystem Management

Issues

ZAAJ covers research on mid-altitude mountain areas from the colline to the subalpine zones. A number of areas of western China are confronted with managing such altitudinal socio-ecosystems and address issues of conservation biology and public health. These zones range from humid tropical forest to ‘alpine’ grassland of the Tibetan plateau and mountains of the north-west (Tien Shan, Altai, etc.).

Since 1994, international programmes have studied the ecology of alveolar echinococcosis transmission in upland zones of western China, in a multidisciplinary context, by methods developed in ZAAJ The research has been conducted jointly with the medical universities of Ningxia, Xinjiang, Gansu and the Sichuan disease control centre. Research has contributed to the implementation of a national action plan, across China, for the control of echinococcoses.

The "Wildlife management and ecosystem health" laboratory was set up in 2012 at the Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, with the support of the Chrono-Environment research unit and the Institut Universitaire de France. Through special conventions, the laboratory has secured access to research stations in a number of major natural reserves as at Gao Li Gong Shan (2300 m asl), Tacheng (3000 m asl) and Bai Ma Shue Shan (3900 m asl).

 On the way to the Bai Ma Shue Shan research station

All of the laboratories involved in this research are brought together within the International research network "Ecosystem health and environmental disease ecology" (IRN/GDRI EHEDE). These are primarily the Chrono-Environment and THéMA laboratories of the University of Franche-Comté/CNRS, the University of Salford (UK), the medical universities of Ningxia (China) and Asahikawa (Japan), Yunnan University of Finance and Economics (China), Sichuan Disease Control Centre (China) and the Australian National University, Camberra, and their partners.

Current Programmes

Rhinopithecus bietiApplication of graph theory to the conservation of the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey. This primate was made known to the world of science in 1887 when it was described by Alphonse Milne-Edwards, of the French Natural History Museum, Paris, and dedicated to Monseigneur Félix Biet, a French missionary and vicar apostolic of "Thibet". Hence its Latin name Rhinopithecus bieti. The species remained almost unknown until the 1990s. The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey lives in one of the most extreme environments of all non-human primates. It forms 15 isolated populations, totalling fewer than 3000 individuals, in the Yun-Ling mountains between the Mekong and the Yang-Tse-Kiang, in north-western Yunnan and south-eastern Tibet. The species lives in high altitude evergreen forests between 3000 and 4700 m asl. Given the scale and the difficult access to these regions, it may be that not all the populations have been discovered. Evaluation is underway of the habitats favourable to the species and the threats to it. Their connectivity on various scales is being explored with Graphab software developed by ThéMA and tested on models studied in ZAAJ (water vole, etc.) in collaboration with the Chrono-Environment research unit.

Characterisation of ecosystems of alveolar echinococcosis transmission in Eurasia.
From continental to subnational scales, alveolar echniococcosis, a deadly parasitic disease for humans, is distributed in patches within which transmission hot spots may occur. By combining data on climate, land use and host species communities, a number of transmission systems have been identified, characterised by a ‘flagship’ species. Each of these systems, inspired by types of functioning observed in ZAAJ, presents its own characteristics, which serve as benchmarks for detailed research on the processes involved and for identifying other types of transmission systems in Eurasia and reasoning on monitoring and intervention systems.

Transmission systems of Echinococcus multilocularis and their flagship species (Giraudoux et al. 2013)



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Contact: Patrick Giraudoux
Chrono-environnement laboratory- University of Franche-Comté