The giant panda is one of the world's most charismatic endangered species and has an emblematic status for the conservation movement worldwide. Its attraction stems in part from its elusive nature: A wary creature with an unusual dietary dependence on bamboos, it is now found only in a restricted mountainous region in China. These characteristics have also shielded important knowledge needed to save the panda from extinction.
Understanding population trends for giant pandas has been a major task for conservation authorities in China for the past thirty years, during which three increasingly sophisticated national surveys were carried out. The first two revealed alarming evidence for declines across the giant panda's range. However, the most recent survey, completed in 2002, showed the first evidence of a recovery, thanks largely to protection measures taken by the Chinese government, including support for a network of natural reserves and strictly enforced bans on poaching and deforestation.
Nonetheless, given the variable accuracy of traditional ecological census methods, other approaches to accurately estimating panda population size are needed. In the new work, the Chinese and UK researchers re-examined the ecological estimate for a key reserve population of giant pandas in Wanglang Nature Reserve. To boost the accuracy of their study, they used recently developed noninvasive techniques, including DNA sequence profiling from fecal samples, that have been successfully used for censusing wild animal populations. The researchers found that the most recent survey likely underestimated the giant panda population by more than 50%. Moreover, the population showed no genetic trace of a demographic "bottleneck" in the recent past, implying that the population may not have been diminished to such tiny numbers as commonly feared.
If these results were to be replicated in other key reserves (and the authors state that this is not unlikely), then there may now be many more giant pandas remaining in the wild than previously thought. This finding indicates that the species may have a significantly better chance of long-term viability than recently anticipated, and that this beautiful animal may have a brighter future.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine