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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 6;6:27248. doi: 10.1038/srep27248.

Metabolic rates of giant pandas inform conservation strategies.

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Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, Drexel University, 3145 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Sichuan Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, 1375 Panda Rd, Northern Suburb, FuTou Shan, Chengdu, Sichuan Province 610081, People's Republic of China.
Department of Biology, Indiana Purdue University at Fort Wayne, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46805.


The giant panda is an icon of conservation and survived a large-scale bamboo die off in the 1980s in China. Captive breeding programs have produced a large population in zoos and efforts continue to reintroduce those animals into the wild. However, we lack sufficient knowledge of their physiological ecology to determine requirements for survival now and in the face of climate change. We measured resting and active metabolic rates of giant pandas in order to determine if current bamboo resources were sufficient for adding additional animals to populations in natural reserves. Resting metabolic rates were somewhat below average for a panda sized mammal and active metabolic rates were in the normal range. Pandas do not have exceptionally low metabolic rates. Nevertheless, there is enough bamboo in natural reserves to support both natural populations and large numbers of reintroduced pandas. Bamboo will not be the limiting factor in successful reintroduction.

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