MSU research refines understanding of panda habitat, resiliency

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MSU scientists find that pandas are more resilient than once thought. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz (view larger image)

Michigan State University (MSU) research shows that pandas are more resilient and flexible than previously believed.

Information gleaned from 30 years of scientific literature suggests that pandas are inflexible in regards to habitat. Those conclusions morphed into conventional wisdom and have guided policy in China. Vanessa Hull, a postdoctoral research associate at MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability spent three years stalking giant pandas in China’s 21,300 square-kilometer Wolong Nature Reserve where an estimated 1,600 wild giant pandas have been relegated. During this time, she found a number of inconsistencies and lack of consensus on crucial matters in the existing literature detailing panda habitat selection.

“Panda habitat selection is a complex process that we are still trying to unravel,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “Pandas are part of coupled human and natural systems where humans have changed so much in their habitat.”

Hull and her colleagues drew up analysis of all the research projects and sought to separate studies that focus on where pandas live from studies that examine what kind of choices they make when multiple types of habitat are available. They discovered that they may not be as picky as thought.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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