Distribution patterns of snow finches (genus Montifringilla) in the Tibetan Plateau of China

Yan Hua, Fu Min, Zuo Hua & De Ritis

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We used data from specimen collection records and field expeditions in the Tibetan Plateau and Xinjiang to assess distribution patterns of six Montifringilla species. By plotting specimen localities with latitude, longitude and elevation, we found that six species overlap greatly on the Tibetan plateau, with a limited distributed area at elevations from about 2500m to 5500m, latitudes from about N26o to N38° and longitude from E 751 to EI 151. At 28 of 71 localities, more than one species has been collected. However, in Xinjiang, only four species occur and they have parapatric complementary distributions. The species whose distribution ranges overlap occur in different habitats and develop different ecological and behavioral characteristics. While some breed and roost in rock crevices, others nest in Pikas (Ochotona curzoniae, Ochotona ladacensis, Ochotona alpina, Ochotona daurica) burrows. Those species sharing similar habitats show significant variations in body traits. It seems that the species with similar body traits are less likely to share similar habitats than are species with rather different body traits.