Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 2019 Feb 18;29(4):664-669.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.051. Epub 2019 Jan 31.

Diet Evolution and Habitat Contraction of Giant Pandas via Stable Isotope Analysis.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservational Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, Ministry of Education, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China.
2
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservational Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, Ministry of Education, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China.
3
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservational Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; Center for Excellence in Animal Evolution and Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China.
4
Yunnan Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute, Kunming 650118, China.
5
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservational Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.
6
Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, Ministry of Education, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China.
7
Baoshan Museum, Baoshan 678000, China.
8
Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Wuhan 430077, China.
9
Natural History Museum of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning 530012, China.
10
Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservational Biology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, Ministry of Education, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China; Center for Excellence in Animal Evolution and Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China. Electronic address: weifw@ioz.ac.cn.

Abstract

The ancestral panda Ailurarctos lufengensis, excavated from the late Miocene, is thought to be carnivorous or omnivorous [1]. Today, giant pandas exclusively consume bamboo and have distinctive tooth, skull, and muscle characteristics adapted to a tough and fibrous bamboo diet during their long evolution [1, 2]. A special feature, the pseudo-thumb, has evolved to permit the precise and efficient grasping of bamboo [3, 4]. Unlike those of extant pandas, little is known about the diet and habitat preferences of extinct pandas. Prevailing studies suggest that the panda shifted to specialized bamboo feeding in the Pleistocene [5, 6]; however, this remains questionable. Pandas now survive in a fraction of their historical habitat [7], but no specific information has been reported. Stable isotope analyses can be used to understand diet- and habitat-related changes in animals [8]. Isotopic signals in bone collagen reflect dietary compositions of ancient human diets [9, 10] and dietary changes between historical and modern animal populations [11, 12]. Here, we conduct stable isotope analyses of bone and tooth samples from ancient and modern pandas and from sympatric fauna. We show that pandas have had a diet dominated by C3 resources over time and space and that trophic niches of ancient and modern pandas are distinctly different. The isotopic trophic and ecological niche widths of ancient pandas are approximately three times larger than those of modern pandas, suggesting that ancient pandas possibly had more complex diets and habitats than do their modern counterparts. Our findings provide insight into the dietary evolution and habitat contraction of pandas.

KEYWORDS:

diet shift; giant panda; habitat contraction; stable isotopes

PMID:
30713107
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.051

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center