Human activities have led to degradation of many important ecosystems, giving rise to biodiversity loss and many other environmental problems. Even designated protected areas are being degraded in many areas of the world. Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in southwestern China contains a relatively large amount of undisturbed primary forests compared to other areas at the same latitude and is also home to many protected wildlife species, including the endangered, endemic Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi). However, resource collection and livestock herding by local residents as well as tourism and economic development in the reserve threaten persistence of biodiversity. In this study, we used camera trapping and occupancy modeling to investigate influences of human activities on species richness and occupancy of medium to large mammals and birds. We measured vegetation structure to assess the effects of human disturbance on forest density.
From April to August 2015, we detected 18 species of medium to large mammals and birds on 37 trail cameras. Among 18 species of wildlife, 8 species are either protected in China or listed as endangered or nearly threatened on the IUCN Red List. Nevertheless, we only detected the snub-nosed monkeys at 3 sites, suggesting the distribution was limited at northeastern FNNR, likely due to development of tourism. Overall species richness decreased at sites with signs of human activities such as livestock herding and resource extraction but was not affected by distance to the cable car route and villages, same as species richness of protected wildlife. Higher density of tree had positive effects on species richness, yet forest density decreased as distance to major roads decreased. Our results suggest human activities had negative effects on species richness of wildlife in FNNR and the regulations that control resource extraction by local communities need to be forced.