• Behavior coding and ethogram of Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi)

      Cui, Duoying; Niu, K.; Tan, Chia L.; Yang, M.; Zhang, Y.; Zhang, J.; Yang, Y. (2014)
      We observed the behavior processes and habitats of free-ranging Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus brelichi) in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) and captive Guizhousnub-nosed monkeys in Wildlife Rescue Center in FNNR and Beijing Zoo from October 2009 to April 2014…. We found that there were some behavioral differences among Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, Sichuan snub-nosed monkey and Yunnan snub-nosed monkey in individual and social behaviors, and these might be related to the different habitats.
    • Comprehensive breeding techniques for the giant panda

      Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Kersey, David C.; Wintle, Nathan J. P.; Aitken-Palmer, Copper; Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Comizzoli, Pierre; Brown, Janine L.; Holt, William V. (Springer International PublishingCham, 2019)
      The dramatic growth of the captive giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) population exemplifies how the application of scientific findings to animal care and reproductive management can improve conservation breeding outcomes. Detailed behavioral studies of giant panda estrus, pregnancy and cub rearing have demonstrated the importance of husbandry management that supports natural reproductive behavior to enhance breeding success....
    • Dynamics of male-female multimodal signaling behavior across the estrous cycle in giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

      Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; McGeehan, Laura; Zhou, Xiaoping; Lindburg, Donald G.; Koenig, W. (2013)
      Giant panda courtship behavior includes multimodal signaling assemblages consisting of olfactory, vocal, and postural elements. While signaling is generally conspicuous, successful copulation is inconsistently achieved in captivity, even when female behavioral and physiological data indicate that ovulation is imminent. We set out to characterize these complex patterns of social behavior by observing interactions between 26 unique pairs of giant pandas housed in adjoining pens throughout the females' reproductive cycle….
    • Improving the sustainability of ex situ populations with mate choice

      Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Wintle, Nathan J. P.; Díez-León, María; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Asa, Cheryl S. (2019)
      Many breeding programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plans® (SSPs) are not meeting goals for population size and genetic diversity due to failure of recommended pairs to breed successfully....
    • Phenotypic plasticity in the timing of reproduction in Andean bears

      Appleton, R. D.; Van Horn, Russell C.; Noyce, K. V.; Spady, T. J.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Arcese, P. (2018)
      Many factors influence whether mammals reproduce seasonally or continuously but disentangling them can be challenging in free‐living species that are hard to observe. We described the seasonality of reproduction in Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) in NW Peru (6°26′S, 79°33′W) to test for phenotypic plasticity in response to extrinsic cues.
    • The influence of social context on animal behavior: Implications for conservation

      Owen, Megan A. (University of California, Los Angeles.Los Angeles, 2014)
      The pervasive perturbation of natural systems by human activities has rapidly changed the social context of many free-ranging animals, potentially reducing the efficiency of reproductive strategies, as well as the effective population size (Ne). Behavioral flexibility can be beneficial to species confronted with rapid contextual change, and the range of flexibility may ultimately influence whether a species can buy the time needed to respond adaptively to change. From the perspective of conservation management, an understanding of species' behavioral flexibility may improve predictions regarding the effects of rapid environmental change on populations, and facilitate the application of behavioral knowledge to conservation management. Fundamentally, an animal's decision-making processes are responsible for generating flexible behavioral responses, thus the lability of mechanisms underpinning decision-making influences the flexibility of behavioral responses. Here I evaluate the study of animal decision-making across scientific disciplines. I critically assess the use of animal decision-making in conservation and suggest ways in which decision theory could enhance conservation strategies. My empirical research is focused on the influence of social context on behavioral flexibility in the endangered giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). The panda is a compelling species in which to study behavioral flexibility in the conservation context, because they are solitary, and females are seasonally-monoestrus and ovulate spontaneously. While energetic constraints play a prominent role in reproductive strategies, little is known regarding their mating system or the plasticity of reproductive behavior. Pandas are behaviorally expressive, using multiple modes of signaling during courtship, however, a holistic understanding of multimodal signaling in the species is lacking. Further, although populations are depleted throughout most of their range, the influence of social context on behavior and communication has not been described. Here we show that female signaling effort is generally lower in the exclusive presence of other females, suggesting that females can modify their behavioural efforts during the pre-ovulatory period according to the prevailing social context. We also found that multimodal signaling during social interactions did not consistently evoke an immediate, discrete response from receivers. Together these findings suggest that giant pandas demonstrate a limited degree of flexible behavioral responses dependent upon the prevailing social context.
    • Vocal behaviour predicts mating success in giant pandas

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Owen, Megan A.; Zhang, Hemin; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2018)
      Surprisingly little is known about how mammal vocal signals are used to achieve behavioural synchrony in the lead up to copulation. The ability to signal short-term fluctuations in arousal levels and behavioural intention is likely to be particularly important for synchronizing mating behaviour in asocial species, which must overcome their natural avoidance and aggressive tendencies to mate. Here, we examined vocal behaviour during breeding encounters in captive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) to gain a greater understanding of how close-range vocal signalling mediates reproduction in this asocial, and conservation-dependent species. Our results revealed that the occurrence of different giant panda vocalizations and acoustic variation within these calls is predictive of successful encounters leading to copulation, as opposed to unsuccessful encounters that do not. In addition, key differences were detected between vocalizations produced during and just prior to copulation. These findings illustrate that vocal exchanges are crucial for achieving behavioural synchrony and signalling intention to mate in giant pandas, and could also provide a valuable tool for breeding programmes, helping conservation managers to assess the likelihood of breeding introductions leading to copulation or potentially injurious failure.