Activity Patterns of the Giant Panda

Published: 2019-02-18 04:04:37
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Environmental influence

The researchers’ main aim of writing the article is to answer fundamental questions in animal ecology that stipulate the patterns and activities of animals to establish their environmental influence. The report focused on determining how ecological and intrinsic factors affect the activity patterns of the giant panda in the Wolong nature reserve in China. The authors demonstrate that it is vital to establish the movement patterns of wild animals to understand the animal’s biological information. The animal biological information includes foraging strategy, evolutionary adaptations, and responses to environmental cues. The research establishes that animal’s activity patterns vary according to spatial, temporal characteristic and physiological factors such as reproductive status. Nonetheless, the article highlights that environmental factors such as forage quantity and weather quality influence the activity patterns of animals. 

However, with the provision of information on factors that affect an animal activity pattern, many individuals lack the understanding of the logical constrains involved in measuring animals activity. Indeed, there is many constrains that impede the measurement of animal movement patterns, and this limits the accuracy and resolution of data available (Liu et. al 1624). Therefore, this entails that there is limited knowledge of the animals’ activity patterns of the world most endangered species. For instance, there is inadequate information of the giant panda of southwestern China (Li et al. 3195). As such, the researchers decided to conduct a study on the giant pandas that determines their foraging strategy and adaptation to the environmental constrains in their wild forest. It is vital to note that studying the activity patterns of panda because they are a species that do not allocate time for their day-to-day operations. More important, studying panda activities are instrumental in understanding their eating patterns to preserve them because climate change is may impede the availability of bamboos in future Liu et al. 1625). Therefore, measuring the activity patterns of panda will reveal critical information on how the animals can use limited eating resources and respond to adverse weather conditions according to their physiological state (Zhang et al. 1117).

This study sought to the bridge the gap down on the previous studies, which only said that pandas were only active at dawn at dusk. The earlier studies were constrained by radiotelemetry, which is a temporary resolution that limits data collection when there are unfavorable weather conditions. As such, there is a lack of quantitative studies that stipulated the duel and seasonal activities patterns of the panda. Thus, this study decided to find out how the panda allocates energy to its various activities. It notably measured panda distribution of energy to extreme weather conditions and the particular period where their low quality forages. As such, the researchers started measuring the activities of giant pandas using advanced GPS collars equipped with dual axis accelerometers. It is the first study of its kind to use the specialized technology for measuring the activities of the large pattern on a daily and seasonal scale. The GPS instrument used an excellent and temporal resolution to establish the relationship between the weather and the panda movement. In so doing, the study contributes immensely to the understanding of the adaptive strategies pandas use to meet the demands of their energy budget in extremes environment. As such, this information forms analysis that provides a recommendation of panda conservation and provides strategies of energy allocation to various panda species (1117). 

The study is the first quantitative analysis performed to measure the activities of an endangered giant panda to determine their duel and seasonal patterns. The researchers concentrated on a sample size to obtain precise results. The study established that giant panda activities are a peak in spring as compared to summer, autumn and winter. Based on the panda movement analysis, the pandas migrate from high areas to low elevation areas during spring. The migration of the panda is attributed to their search for forage on bamboo shoots that contain the high nutritional value such as nitrogen (1120). The data established that pandas love for long distances to such for an umbrella like bamboo shoots, which are scattered in the forest. The bamboo shoots only cover 40% of the entire region compared to other shoots. The bamboo shoots nutritional content is advantageous to pandas because they help in the embryonic development and this improves the birthrate of their offspring’s. 

Nonetheless, in the study use Mei Mei, a panda as the prime subject. The researchers established that Mei Mei was very active during the spring (1119).Mei Mei was pregnant during the spring season, and this resulted to a hypothesis that pregnant pandas show high foraging activity in spring to search for food that is essential for reproduction.

Second, the study established that the young bamboo leaves with high nutrient content provide the primary food resources for the pandas in summer to autumn. The bamboo leaves are precious resources and are evenly distributed across the forest and landscape. As such, they inhibit the large movements of the panda, and this explains why there is little panda move in this season. Nonetheless, the study established high activities rate among the panda on the winter season. The increased high activity levels among the panda in winter are because there are little water resources and scarcity of food with high nutrition (1121).  

The overall activity variation over the year is attributed to the bamboo species and its nutrient composition during the year. The results are consistent with other studies that indicate the seasonal activities patterns of panda occur because of the seasonal changes in forage quantity, quality, and type.

In addition, the study recorded the day-to-day operations of panda and established three different activity patterns of the panda. The pandas have a diurnal activity pattern whereby they become more active at 1300-1700. The research establishes that the high activity status is because of the panda's diet pattern (1122). The pandas in the Qinling Mountains look for forage in the bamboo species at that period because they take a lot of time to digest the stems as compared to the leaves. The study established that pandas are unique species because they share the similar diet of herbivores but they do not have large predators in the surrounding environment. As such, this explains why pandas have three activity peaks as compared to other herbivores and concentrate most of their foraging activities in the daytime.

 

Evidently, the study provided insightful and new information about panda and their movement patterns. The study analyzed data through using GPs device that provides a comprehensive data of the activity levels of panda. The data obtained using GPS collars helped to comprehensively elucidate the differences and patterns of pandas activities at a monthly and yearly scale. The active times of a panda are relatively stable across the various seasons, but there is a high activity in the spring season. The great activity patterns of the panda in the spring season are because there is little forage in their landscape and forests (1123). Nonetheless, there is a high forage pattern among pregnant pandas at the spring because she required enough feed and high nutritional content to her offspring birth.  

The results also indicate that pandas meet their energetic demands through increasing their activity level and not compromising their rest period, as physiological factors require. However, the study did not explore this phenomenon in pandas because the GPS technology is quite new. However, the study suggests that the phenomenon should be explored in the future research that concerns themselves with the activities of Pandas (1123).

It is also notable that this is a first study that demonstrated the statistical significance between weather patterns and panda activity. Other studies have established the phenomenon in other species such as moose, lynx, and white-tailed deer. Nonetheless, the study data revealed a significant correlation between panda activity and solar radiation in all seasons. The association is paramount in colder conditions, and this demonstrated that the panda has a bit selection for regions with high solar radiation. Such a phenomenon is understood in biological mammology whereby fur-bearing animals absorb sunshine heat to boost their thermal energy (1125). Moreover, the effect of weather especially the hour of day demonstrated a stronger effect on the activities the panda engage. As such, this suggests an endogenous rhythm of panda activities that depend on the diet variations, time, and seasonal scales. Furthermore, weather seasons influence panda activity as indicated in their behavioral strategy. The pandas can adjust to any activity level through modifying their physiological requires to meet climate variation and forage variability (1125).

 

Works Cited

Li, Sheng, et al. "Beyond Pandas, the Need for a Standardized Monitoring Protocol for Large Mammals in Chinese Nature Reserves." Biodiversity and Conservation 19.11 (2010): 3195-3206. 

Liu, Xuehua, et al. "Giant Panda Habitat Selection in Foping Nature Reserve, China." Journal of Wildlife Management 69.4 (2005): 1623-1632.

Zhang, Jindong, et al. "Activity Patterns of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)." Journal of Mammalogy 96.6 (2015): 1116-1127.

 

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