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Researchers reconstruct population history of the giant panda

December 17, 2012

Researchers reconstruct population history of the giant panda

Researchers at the Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and BGI have reconstructed the giant panda’s population history and local adaptation.

Researchers led by the Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and BGI have reconstructed the giant panda’s population history from its origin to the present. The research team discovered that human influences have driven recent population deviation and decline. In the past, however, climate changes were the primary drivers in panda population fluctuation. Researchers hope that their research will help guide conservation efforts for the giant panda and other endangered species.

Giant pandas live in several mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. While they once lived in lowland areas, farming, forest clearing, and other human activities now keep giant pandas in the mountains, according to the Smithsonian. The giant panda is listed as endangered in the Word Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species. Currently, there are approximately 1,600 left in the wild and more than 300 in zoos and breeding centers around the world.

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