• Assessing the effectiveness of China’s panda protection system

      Wei, Wei; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Owen, Megan A.; Dai, Qiang; Wei, Fuwen; Han, Han; Yang, Zhisong; Yang, Xuyu; Gu, Xiaodong; et al. (2020)
      ...Together these findings indicate that China’s panda reserves have been effective and that they are functioning better over time, conserving more and better habitats and containing more pandas. While China’s protected area system still has much room for improvement [4, 5], including to support pandas [16], these findings underscore the progress made in China’s nascent environmental movement.
    • Climate change and landscape-use patterns influence recent past distribution of giant pandas

      Tang, Junfeng; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Owen, Megan A.; Zhao, Xuzhe; Wei, Wei; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Wei, Fuwen; Yang, Xuyu; Gu, Xiaodong; Yang, Zhisong; et al. (The Royal Society, 2020)
      Climate change is one of the most pervasive threats to biodiversity globally, yet the influence of climate relative to other drivers of species depletion and range contraction remain difficult to disentangle.... We conclude that the panda's distribution has been influenced by changing climate, but conservation intervention to manage habitat is working to increasingly offset these negative consequences.
    • Climate change and landscape-use patterns influence recent past distribution of giant pandas

      Tang, Junfeng; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Owen, Megan A.; Zhao, Xuzhe; Wei, Wei; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Wei, Fuwen; Yang, Xuyu; Gu, Xiaodong; Yang, Zhisong; et al. (2020)
      Climate change is one of the most pervasive threats to biodiversity globally, yet the influence of climate relative to other drivers of species depletion and range contraction remain difficult to disentangle. Here, we examine climatic and non-climatic correlates of giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) distribution using a large-scale 30 year dataset to evaluate whether a changing climate has already influenced panda distribution. We document several climatic patterns, including increasing temperatures, and alterations to seasonal temperature and precipitation. We found that while climatic factors were the most influential predictors of panda distribution, their importance diminished over time, while landscape variables have become relatively more influential. We conclude that the panda's distribution has been influenced by changing climate, but conservation intervention to manage habitat is working to increasingly offset these negative consequences.
    • Giant panda distributional and habitat-use shifts in a changing landscape

      Wei, Wei; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Dai, Qiang; Yang, Zhisong; Yuan, Shibin; Owen, Megan A.; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Yang, Xuyu; Gu, Xiaodong; Zhou, Hong; et al. (2018)
      Long‐term data on populations, threats, and habitat‐use changes are fundamentally important for conservation policy and management decisions affecting species, but these data are often in short supply. Here, we analyze survey data from 57,087 plots collected in approximately three‐fourths of the giant panda's (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) distributional range during China's national surveys conducted in 1999–2003 and 2011–2014. Pandas associated preferentially with several ecological factors and avoided areas impacted by human activities, such as roads, livestock, mining, and tourism. Promise is shown by dramatic declines in logging rates, but is counterbalanced with recently emerging threats. Pandas have increasingly utilized secondary forest as these forests recovered under protective measures. Pandas have undergone a distributional shift to higher elevations, despite the elevational stability of their bamboo food source, perhaps in response to a similar upward shift in the distribution of livestock. Our findings showcase robust on‐the‐ground data from one of the largest‐scale survey efforts worldwide for an endangered species and highlight how science and policy have contributed to this remarkable success story, and help frame future management strategies.
    • The role of den quality in giant panda conservation

      Wei, Wei; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Owen, Megan A.; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Han, Han; Hong, Mingsheng; Zhou, Hong; Wei, Fuwen; Nie, Yonggang; Zhang, Zejun (2019)
      Small features in ecological systems are often underrepresented in conservation monitoring, management and policy. Tree cavities and other forms of refuge play disproportionately large ecological roles due to their importance for shelter and rearing vulnerable offspring....