Estimating abundance and density of Amur tigers along the Sino-Russian border

Wenhong Xiao, Limin Feng, Pu Mou, Dale G. Miquelle, Mark Hebblewhite, Joshua F. Goldberg, Hugh S. Robinson, Xiaodan Zhao, Bo Zhou, Tianming Wang, Jianping Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


As an apex predator the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) could play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of forest ecosystems in Northeast Asia. Due to habitat loss and harvest over the past century, tigers rapidly declined in China and are now restricted to the Russian Far East and bordering habitat in nearby China. To facilitate restoration of the tiger in its historical range, reliable estimates of population size are essential to assess effectiveness of conservation interventions. Here we used camera trap data collected in Hunchun National Nature Reserve from April to June 2013 and 2014 to estimate tiger density and abundance using both maximum likelihood and Bayesian spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) methods. A minimum of 8 individuals were detected in both sample periods and the documentation of marking behavior and reproduction suggests the presence of a resident population. Using Bayesian SECR modeling within the 11 400 km(2) state space, density estimates were 0.33 and 0.40 individuals/100 km(2) in 2013 and 2014, respectively, corresponding to an estimated abundance of 38 and 45 animals for this transboundary Sino-Russian population. In a maximum likelihood framework, we estimated densities of 0.30 and 0.24 individuals/100 km(2) corresponding to abundances of 34 and 27, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. These density estimates are comparable to other published estimates for resident Amur tiger populations in the Russian Far East. This study reveals promising signs of tiger recovery in Northeast China, and demonstrates the importance of connectivity between the Russian and Chinese populations for recovering tigers in Northeast China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-332
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Amur tiger
  • camera traps
  • density
  • individual identification
  • spatial capture-recapture


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