Contributions of distemper control and habitat expansion to the Amur leopard viability

Dawei Wang, Francesco Accatino, James L.D. Smith, Tianming Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a critically endangered top predator that struggles on the brink of extinction due to threats such as canine distemper virus (CDV), habitat loss, and inbreeding depression. Here we develop a viability analysis metamodel that combines a traditional individual-based demographic model with an epidemiological model to assess the benefits of alternative population management actions in response to multiple distinct threats. Our results showed an extinction risk of 10.3%-99.9% if no management actions were taken over 100 years under different levels of inbreeding depression. Reducing the risk of CDV infection in Amur leopards through the low-coverage vaccination of leopards and the management of sympatric domestic dogs could effectively improve the survival probability of the leopard population, and with habitat expansion added to these management measures, the population expanded further. Our findings highlight that protecting the Amur leopard necessitates a multifaceted synergistic effort, and controlling multiple threats together may significantly escalate overall viability of a species, especially for small-isolated threatened population. More broadly, our modeling framework could offer critical perspectives and scientific support for conservation planning, as well as specific adaptive management actions for endangered species around the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1153
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971539), the National Science and Technology Basic Resources Survey Program of China (2019FY101700) and a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council (202106040062).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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