1 Tahrcountry Musings: Pandas and Old Forest

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pandas and Old Forest

I have always been fascinated by Pandas and lay my hands on whatever I can get on them. The latest issue of Biology Letters, has an excellent paper on Pandas. I liked one sentence at the beginning very much. The authors say the giant panda is at a high risk of extinction and will require informed management for recovery but if assumptions about ecological needs are wrong, maps with misidentified suitable habitat will misguide conservation action. Although the giant panda genome has now been sequenced scientists are still struggling to fully understand the panda's ecological requirements. The researchers use an information-theoretic approach to analyze the largest, landscape-level data set on panda habitat use to date, and challenge the prevailing wisdom about panda habitat needs. They show that pandas are associated with old-growth forest more than with any ecological variable other than bamboo.
The researchers make a fervent plea that as the Chinese government is considering the renewal of its logging ban, it should take heed of the panda's dependency on old growth.
Old-growth forest is what giant pandas really need

 Biology Letters - Published online before print January 12, 2011, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1081

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