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Molecular censusing doubles giant panda population estimate in a key nature reserve

Zhan, Xiangjiang, Li, Ming, Zhang, Zejun, Goossens, Benoit, Chen, Youping, Wang, Hongjia, Bruford, Michael William and Wei, Fuwen 2006. Molecular censusing doubles giant panda population estimate in a key nature reserve. Current Biology 16 (12) , R451-R452. 10.1016/j.cub.2006.05.042

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Abstract

The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), a flagship species for conservation, once inhabited most of China and its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Nowadays, giant pandas are confined to fragmented mountain habitats in Western China because of ecological and anthropogenic pressure 1 and 2. In order to establish effective conservation strategies, it is critical to know the number and distribution of giant pandas in the wild. However, accurately censusing panda populations remains problematic, because individuals are elusive, wary and very difficult to observe in their complex habitat. Previously, a number of indirect censusing methods have been used 1, 2 and 3 D. Lindburg and K. Baragona, Giant Pandas: Biology and Conservation, University of California Press, London (2004).3. These methods were essentially based on transect lines and proved poor at identifying individuals, resulting in a questionable precision of estimates. Considering the keen interest of the conservation community and the millions of dollars already spent on three major national surveys, it is important to find an accurate method for censusing giant pandas. Recently, microsatellite analysis using fecal DNA has proven effective in estimating population size of elusive animals 4 and 5. Large numbers of fecal samples can be easily obtained from giant panda habitat without disturbance due to its diet and high deposition rates [2]. Here, we conducted for the first time an exhaustive non-invasive genetic survey of giant pandas in a key reserve and found that the molecular census was double that previously estimated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Sustainable Places Research Institute (PLACES)
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0960-9822
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 21:28
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/1183

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