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Zhang M.,East China Normal University | Zhang M.,China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda | Wang X.,East China Normal University | Ding Y.,East China Normal University
Folia Zoologica | Year: 2013

Ecotourism and off-road recreational disturbances can be threats to wildlife inhabiting protected areas. Here we investigate flight response patterns in blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) inhabiting the Ningxia Helan Mountain National Nature Reserve, China. We found that flight initiation distance (distance at which animals begun fleeing a slowly approaching human) and final flight distance (distance at which the blue sheep stopped fleeing) varied across the reserve and was a function of the level of tourism in each focal area. In areas of heavy ecotourism, blue sheep allowed humans to approach closer, fled at a slower speed and did not flee as far compared to sheep inhabiting areas with less intense ecotourism. Flight initiation distance did not vary seasonally but final flight distance did. There was no group size effect on the flight responses. Both flight initiation distance and final flight distance were negatively correlated with the number of daily tourists, and positively correlated with the distance to anthropogenic constructions such as houses and roads. Blue sheep appear to have remained in areas with large anthropogenic disturbances because of abundant water, and have habituated to the presence of tourists in areas of heavy ecotourism. Moderate ecotourism may not cause blue sheep population decline.

Charlton B.D.,Carnivores | Keating J.L.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research | Rengui L.,China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda | Huang Y.,China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda | Swaisgood R.R.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 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). We then used playback experiments to examine the response of male giant pandas to female chirps produced during fertile versus pre-fertile phases of the caller's reproductive cycle. Our results show that the acoustic structure of female giant panda chirps differs between fertile and pre-fertile callers and that male giant pandas can perceive differences in female chirps that allow them to determine the exact timing of the female's fertile phase. These findings indicate that male giant pandas could use vocal cues to preferentially associate and copulate with females at the optimum time for insemination and reveal the likely importance of female vocal signals for coordinating reproductive efforts in this critically endangered species. © 2009 The Royal Society.

Shan L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Hu Y.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Zhu L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Yan L.,CAS Institute of Zoology | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2014

The captive genetic management of threatened species strives to preserve genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding to ensure populations remain available, healthy, and viable for future reintroduction. Determining and responding to the genetic status of captive populations is therefore paramount to these programs. Here, we genotyped 19 microsatellite loci for 240 captive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) (∼64% of the captive population) from four breeding centers, Wolong (WL), Chengdu (CD), Louguantai (LGT), and Beijing (BJ), and analyzed 655 bp of mitochondrial DNA control region sequence for 220 of these animals. High levels of genetic diversity and low levels of inbreeding were estimated in the breeding centers, indicating that the captive population is genetically healthy and deliberate further genetic input from wild animals is unnecessary. However, the LGT population faces a higher risk of inbreeding, and significant genetic structure was detected among breeding centers, with LGT-CD and WL-BJ clustering separately. Based on these findings, we highlight that: 1) the LGT population should be managed as an independent captive population to resemble the genetic distinctness of their Qinling Mountain origins; 2) exchange between CD and WL should be encouraged because of similar wild founder sources; 3) the selection of captive individuals for reintroduction should consider their geographic origin, genetic background, and genetic contribution to wild populations; and 4) combining our molecular genetic data with existing pedigree data will better guide giant panda breeding and further reduce inbreeding into the future. © 2014 The Author 2014.

Kinoshita K.,Kobe University | Morita H.,Kobe University | Miyazaki M.,Kobe University | Hama N.,Kobe Municipal Oji Zoo | And 6 more authors.
Analytical Methods | Year: 2010

The usefulness of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to monitor urine estrogen concentrations was studied in order to determine optimal timing for breeding captive female giant pandas. NIR spectra of daily urine samples from a female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) were acquired in the period between March 1st and 25th, 2007 (n = 53). Estrone-3-glucuronide (E1G) concentrations in the samples were also measured by enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Transmittance spectra of all urine samples were obtained in the wavelength range from 1100 to 2432 nm (excluding the range from 1884 to 2012 nm) with sample thickness of 1 mm. Partial least square regression was applied to the spectra and good correlation was obtained between E1G concentration measured by EIA and predicted values by NIR (R2 = 0.94, SECV = 10.04 ng ml-1). The results of both soft-independent modeling of class analogy (SIMCA) and moving principal component analysis (MPCA) could detect the time changes in E1G concentration as measured by EIA (the Pearson's correlation coefficients between E1G concentration and the interclass distances of SIMCA or the index of MPCA were r = 0.64 and r = 0.81 respectively, P < 0.01). As for MPCA index, the index sharply dropped on March 24th corresponding to the decrease of the E1G concentration indicating ovulation. Finally, artificial insemination was performed for 3 consecutive days including the peak day, March 24th, and the female became pregnant. These results indicated that NIRS and the following MPCA analysis of the respective urine spectral data could detect the changes of urinary hormones during estrous cycle at a nanogram level. The NIRS can find the optimal timing for breeding quicker and easier than EIA, so this technique can be useful for captive breeding of this threatened species. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Charlton B.D.,University College Dublin | Keating J.L.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research | Rengui L.,China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda | Huang Y.,China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda | Swaisgood R.R.,San Diego Zoos Institute for Conservation Research
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America | Year: 2015

Although the acoustic structure of mammal vocal signals often varies according to the social context of emission, relatively few mammal studies have examined acoustic variation during intersexual advertisement. In the current study male giant panda bleats were recorded during the breeding season in three behavioural contexts: vocalising alone, during vocal interactions with females outside of peak oestrus, and during vocal interactions with peak-oestrous females. Male bleats produced during vocal interactions with peak-oestrous females were longer in duration and had higher mean fundamental frequency than those produced when males were either involved in a vocal interaction with a female outside of peak oestrus or vocalising alone. In addition, males produced bleats with higher rates of fundamental frequency modulation when they were vocalising alone than when they were interacting with females. These results show that acoustic features of male giant panda bleats have the potential to signal the caller's motivational state, and suggest that males increase the rate of fundamental frequency modulation in bleats when they are alone to maximally broadcast their quality and promote close-range contact with receptive females during the breeding season. © 2015 Acoustical Society of America.

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