Discovering how pandas browse

23 July 2014

Pandas are famously fussy eaters, but Professor Raubenheimer's research suggests there is method to their madness, with the animals switching between different species and parts of bamboo plants to maintain a balanced diet and reproduce.

Pandas migrate long distances to switch between the shoots and leaves of two different bamboo varieties. The four distinctive diets provide different levels of key nutrients, with shifts between the diets enabling the pandas to balance their calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen needs to successfully reproduce.

The researchers tracked six pandas in China's Foping Reserve with GPS collars over a period of six years, also conducting behavioural analyses and studying food and dung samples during the four foraging cycles. The research is published in the journal Functional Ecology.

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