• Behavioral audiogram of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): Preliminary results

      Owen, Megan A.; Keating, Jennifer L.; Denes, Samuel L.; Hawk, Kathy; Boroski, Juli; Fiore, Angela; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2011)
      We used behavioral techniques to assess the hearing sensitivity of four, critically endangered, giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Study subjects included one adult male (age 19), two adult females (ages 5 and 19), and one sub-adult female (age 3)…. Hearing sensitivity data will enhance the understanding of how anthropogenic noise may impact both free-ranging and captive giant pandas.
    • Can science save the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)? Unifying science and policy in an adaptive management paradigm

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, Fuwen; Mcshea, William J.; Wildt, David E.; Kouba, Andrew J.; Zhang, Zejun (2011)
      …Here, we review recent developments in giant panda conservation science and propose a strategic plan for moving panda conservation forward…. Specific threats, such as habitat destruction, anthropogenic disturbance and fragmented nonviable populations, need to be addressed simultaneously by researchers, managers and policy-makers working in concert to understand and overcome these obstacles to species recovery. With the backing of the Chinese Government and the conservation community, the giant panda can become a high-profile test species for this much touted, but rarely implemented, approach to conservation management….
    • Developmental stability of foraging behavior: evaluating suitability of captive giant pandas for translocation

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Owen, Megan A.; Zhou X.; Zhang H. (2018)
      The behavioral competence of captive-bred individuals - an important source population for translocation programs - may differ from that of wild-born individuals and these differences may influence post-release survival. Some behaviors will be more robust, or developmentally stable, than others in the face of the environmental novelties of captivity. Here, we investigated developmental stability of foraging behavior by quantifying bamboo feeding behavior in captive-bred and wild-born giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanleuca. As an energy-limited species adapted to a low-nutrition diet, any reductions in feeding efficiency may compromise post-release survival. Using video of 22 captive pandas, we measured several components of the panda's elaborate bamboo feeding behavior repertoire. We found that captive-born and wild-born pandas displayed the same repertoire of feeding behaviors, suggesting developmental stability in these motor patterns, but that they employed them differently with different parts of the bamboo. Captive-born pandas devoted less time and effort to handling and chewing leaves while allocating more effort to the consumption of large culms than did wild?born pandas. Captive-born pandas also handled small culm and stripped small culms to prepare them for consumption less often than did wild?born pandas. All of these behavioral differences indicate that wild-born pandas in captivity behave in a manner more similar to wild pandas, and focus their behavioral effort on more nutritious bamboo. Thus, these aspects of captive-born panda feeding behavior may be compromised, and were not developmentally stable in the captive environment. These behavioral differences are cause for concern and should be the subject of future study to determine whether they forecast compromised fitness in translocations. Evaluating developmental stability and behavioral competence should be a key component of captive-release translocation programs, serving to guide pre-release training and selection of individuals to be released.
    • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

      Nie, Y.; Zhang, Z.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, F. (2012)
      In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
    • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone metabolites in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

      Nie, Yong-Gang; Zhang, Ze-Jun; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, Fu-Wei (2012)
      In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
    • Female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chirps advertise the caller's fertile phase

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Keating, J. L.; Rengui, L.; Huang, Y.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; (2010)
      Although female mammal vocal behaviour is known to advertise fertility, to date, no non-human mammal study has shown that the acoustic structure of female calls varies significantly around their fertile period. Here, we used a combination of hormone measurements and acoustic analyses to determine whether female giant panda chirps have the potential to signal the caller's precise oestrous stage (fertile versus pre-fertile)….
    • Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; McShea, William M.; Wildt, David; Hull, Vanessa; Zhang, Jindong; Owen, Megan A.; Zhang, Zejun; Dvornicky-Raymond, Zachary; Valitutto, Marc; Li, Dihua; et al. (Cambridge University PressCambridge, 2020)
      This chapter comprises the following sections: names, taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, movements and home range, activity patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction and growth, behavior, parasites and diseases, status in the wild, and status in captivity.
    • Giant panda conservation science: how far we have come

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, Fuwen; Wildt, David E.; Kouba, Andrew J.; Zhang, Zejun (The Royal Society, 2009-10-28)
      ...Here we discuss recent advancements in conservation science for giant pandas and suggest that the way forward is more direct application of emerging science to management and policy.
    • Giant panda scent-marking strategies in the wild: role of season, sex and marking surface

      Nie, Yonggang; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Zhang, Zejun; Hu, Yibo; Ma, Yisheng; Wei, Fuwen (2012)
      ...We studied scent-marking patterns in wild giant pandas in the Foping Nature Reserve by surveying areas containing a high density of scent posts. Pandas did not deploy scent marks randomly in this environment, but targeted trees with specific characteristics that promoted signal persistence, range and/or likelihood of detection....
    • Giant pandas attend to androgen-related variation in male bleats

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Zhihe, Zhang; Snyder, Rebecca J. (2012)
      Although androgen-dependant traits are predicted to signal overall male quality, no study has examined the response of a nonhuman animal to variation in a known acoustic cue to male androgen levels (steroid hormones that are key drivers of male sexual behaviour). Here, we use a single-speaker approach to present male and female giant pandas with re-synthesised male bleats representing callers with high and low androgen levels. Our results revealed that male and female giant pandas had significantly greater-looking responses, spent more time pacing, and were faster to respond to playbacks of bleats simulating high androgen males. When we analysed the sexes separately, a slightly different response pattern was revealed: whereas males and females still had significantly greater-looking responses and were faster to respond to bleats simulating high androgen males, only male giant pandas tended to spend more time pacing. These findings suggest that vocal cues to male androgen levels are functionally relevant to male and female giant pandas during the breeding season, and constitute the first demonstration that a nonhuman animal could be using a vocal signal to assess male hormonal state. We go on to discuss the ecological relevance of signalling androgen levels in this species’ sexual communication and the possible application of our results to conservation breeding.
    • Giant Pandas: Biology, Veterinary Medicine and Management

      Wildt, David E.; Zhang, Anju; Zhang, Hemin; Janssen, Donald L.; Ellis, Susie (Cambridge University Press, 2012)
      The giant panda is one of the world's most recognized animals, but until now the biology of this threatened species has been a mystery....
    • How Is climate change affecting polar bears and giant pandas?

      Songer, Melissa; Atwood, Todd C.; Douglas, David C.; Huang, Qiongyu; Li, Renqiang; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Xu, Ming; Durner, George M.; Melletti, Mario; Penteriani, Vincenzo (Cambridge University PressCambridge, 2020)
      Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change and an estimated increase of 3.7 to 4.8 °C is predicted by the year 2100 if emissions continue at current levels. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) provide an interesting comparison study of the impact of climate change on bear species….
    • Old-growth forest is what giant pandas really need

      Zhang, Zejun; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Zhang, S.; Nordstrom, Lisa A.; Wang, H.; Gu, X.; Hu, J.; Wei, F. (2011)
      …Here, we use an information-theoretic approach to analyse the largest, landscape-level dataset on panda habitat use to date, and challenge the prevailing wisdom about panda habitat needs. We show that pandas are associated with old-growth forest more than with any ecological variable other than bamboo….
    • Reproductive competition and fecal testosterone in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

      Nie, Yonggang; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Zhang, Zejun; Liu, Xiaobin; Wei, Fuwen (2012)
      ...Using global positioning system/very high frequency radiocollars to locate mating aggregations, we used behavioral observations and fecal testosterone assays to gain insight into male panda reproductive effort and strategies, and test theories relating to reproductive competition. Male pandas initially competed fiercely for access to females that were about to be fertile, but once male competitive status was determined, aggression rates declined....
    • Seasonal competition between sympatric species for a key resource: Implications for conservation management

      Nie, Yonggang; Zhou, Wenliang; Gao, Kai; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, Fuwen (2019)
      Competition often occurs between two or more sympatric species that use similar ecological niches. During competition, a superior species may exclude the competitor from parts of its fundamental niche or make it go extinct....
    • Sound transmission in a bamboo forest and its implications for information transfer in giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ) bleats

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Owen, Megan A.; Keating, Jennifer L.; Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Zhang, Hemin; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2018)
      Although mammal vocalisations signal attributes about the caller that are important in a range of contexts, relatively few studies have investigated the transmission of specific types of information encoded in mammal calls. In this study we broadcast and re-recorded giant panda bleats in a bamboo plantation, to assess the stability of individuality and sex differences in these calls over distance, and determine how the acoustic structure of giant panda bleats degrades in this species’ typical environment. Our results indicate that vocal recognition of the caller’s identity and sex is not likely to be possible when the distance between the vocaliser and receiver exceeds 20 m and 10 m, respectively. Further analysis revealed that the F0 contour of bleats was subject to high structural degradation as it propagated through the bamboo canopy, making the measurement of mean F0 and F0 modulation characteristics highly unreliable at distances exceeding 10 m. The most stable acoustic features of bleats in the bamboo forest environment (lowest % variation) were the upper formants and overall formant spacing. The analysis of amplitude attenuation revealed that the fifth and sixth formant are more prone to decay than the other frequency components of bleats, however, the fifth formant still remained the most prominent and persistent frequency component over distance. Paired with previous studies, these results show that giant panda bleats have the potential to signal the caller’s identity at distances of up to 20 m and reliably transmit sex differences up to 10 m from the caller, and suggest that information encoded by F0 modulation in bleats could only be functionally relevant during close-range interactions in this species’ natural environment.
    • Survey of clinical ophthalmic disease in the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) among North American zoological institutions.

      Miller, Sarah; Whelan, Nick; Hope, Katharine; Nogueira Marmolejo, Miryam G.; Knightly, Felicia; Sutherland-Smith, Meg; Rivera, Sam (2020)
      This study surveyed six North American zoologic institutions to collect retrospective information on the incidence of ocular disease in the giant panda. Reported information included sex and age at presentation, as well as diagnosis, treatment, duration, and clinical outcome for each episode of ocular disease....
    • Testicular seminomas in two giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

      Molter, Christine M. (Disney’s Animals, Science, and EnvironmentOrlando, Florida, 2014)
    • The acute phase protein ceruloplasmin as a non-invasive marker of pseudopregnancy, pregnancy, and pregnancy loss in the giant panda

      Willis, Erin L.; Kersey, David C.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Kouba, Andrew J. (2011)
      After ovulation, non-pregnant female giant pandas experience pseudopregnancy. During pseudopregnancy, non-pregnant females exhibit physiological and behavioral changes similar to pregnancy. Monitoring hormonal patterns that are usually different in pregnant mammals are not effective at determining pregnancy status in many animals that undergo pseudopregnancy, including the giant panda. Therefore, a physiological test to distinguish between pregnancy and pseudopregnancy in pandas has eluded scientists for decades. We examined other potential markers of pregnancy and found that activity of the acute phase protein ceruloplasmin increases in urine of giant pandas in response to pregnancy. Results indicate that in term pregnancies, levels of active urinary ceruloplasmin were elevated the first week of pregnancy and remain elevated until 20–24 days prior to parturition, while no increase was observed during the luteal phase in known pseudopregnancies. Active ceruloplasmin also increased during ultrasound-confirmed lost pregnancies; however, the pattern was different compared to term pregnancies, particularly during the late luteal phase. In four out of the five additional reproductive cycles included in the current study where females were bred but no birth occurred, active ceruloplasmin in urine increased during the luteal phase. Similar to the known lost pregnancies, the temporal pattern of change in urinary ceruloplasmin during the luteal phase deviated from the term pregnancies suggesting that these cycles may have also been lost pregnancies. Among giant pandas in captivity, it has been presumed that there is a high rate of pregnancy loss and our results are the first to provide evidence supporting this notion.
    • 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....