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The Giant Pandas of Wolong

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Overview


The giant panda is threatened with extinction. Only about a thousand survive in the wild in China, about half of them protected in reserves. In an effort to save this remarkable species, the government of China and the World Wildlife Fund began cooperative research in 1980. The Giant Pandas of Wolong is not only the first report of this joint venture but also the first detailed account of the panda's natural history. It describes the environment, distribution, life cycle, and daily and seasonal activities of pandas in the wild.

Although giant pandas have few natural enemies, the periodic die-off of bamboo, their main food, threatens their survival. In order to understand the panda's vital link to bamboo, the research team has explored many aspects of the animal's life, collecting information on both wild and captive pandas. Though a herbivore, the panda retains the simple digestive tract of a carnivore. Unable to digest cellulose in plants, it receives relatively little nutrition from the bamboo it eats. As a result, it must eat many kilograms of bamboo each day, foraging for fourteen hours or more throughout a day and night.

Known to the Chinese for several thousand years as daxiongmao, "large bear-cat," the giant panda has defied easy classification. The authors review anatomical, biochemical, behavioral, and paleontological evidence, concluding that the animal is neither bear nor raccoon but belongs in a separate family, perhaps with the small red panda.

The giant panda has captured the imagination of the public more than any other animal. By presenting their groundbreaking and crucial research to the public, the authors of The Giant Pandas of Wolong hope to spur further research and action that will help this precious animal survive.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226736433
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1985
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 7.01 (w) x 9.79 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Table of Contents


Preface
Acknowledgments
1. The Giant Panda, Past and Present
Physical characteristics
The panda in ancient Chinese history
The panda in modern history
Past and present distribution
Current status
Summary
2. Wolong and Its Pandas
The Wolong Natural Reserve
The environment of Wolong
Status and distribution of pandas
The Choushuigou study area
Climate
Vegetation
The seasons
The pandas of Choushuigou
Summary
3. Feeding Strategy
Food habits
Feeding behavior
Feeding on stems and leaves
Feeding on new Fargesia shoots
Food selection
Selection for stems and leaves
Selection for new Fargesia shoots
Food and water intake
Food intake
Frequency of drinking
Retention time of food
Panda nutrition
Organic constituents of bamboo
Inorganic constituents of bamboo
Chemical analysis of feces
Microscopic examination of digested bamboo
Effects of pandas on bamboo
Effect on leaves and stems
Effect on new Fargesia shoots
Discussion
Summary

4. Movement Patterns
Methods
Home range
Daily movements
Discussion
Summary
 
5. Activity Patterns
Activity cycles
Individual differences in activity
Factors influencing activity
Time of day
Restless behavior
Rest periods
Behavioral time budget
Feeding
Drinking
Traveling
Tree climbing
Grooming and other comfort movements
Defecating and urinating
Scent-marking
Playing
Socializing
Discussion
Summary

6. Population Dynamics and Social Behavior
Population dynamics
Population size and composition
Age at sexual maturity
Reproductive rate
Mortality
Communication
Visual signals
Vocal signals
Olfactory and visual signals in the environment
Reproductive behavior
Courtship and mating
Gestation period
Maternity dens
Interactions between mother and young
Social interactions between pandas
Summary

7. The Relationship between Nutrition and Behavior

8. The Giant Panda--Bear or Racoon?
Reproduction
Size dimorphism
Courtship and mating
Delayed implantation and dormancy
Maternal care
Communication
Visual signals
Vocal signals
Olfactory and visual signals in the environment
Discussion
Summary
 
9. Conservation
Direct human impact
Bamboo flowering
Conservation genetics
Summary

Appendixes
Appendix A. Wild plants, mammals, and birds mentioned in the text, with scientific names
Appendix B. Tables B.1-B.14
References
Index

 

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