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Reassessing the conservation status of the giant panda using remote sensing


The conservation status of the iconic giant panda is a barometer of global conservation efforts. The IUCN Red List has downgraded the panda’s extinction risk from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. Newly obtained, detailed GIS and remotely sensed data applied consistently over the last four decades show that panda habitat covered less area and was more fragmented in 2013 than in 1988 when the species was listed as endangered.

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Fig. 1: Area, isolation and protection status in nature reserves for giant panda habitat.
Fig. 2: Giant panda habitat changes between 1976 and 2013, and proposed panda reserves and corridors.


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41671534), Ministry of Science and Technology through the National Key Programme of Research and Development Project (2016YFC0503200), State Forestry Administration, Worldwide Fund for Nature, and U.S. National Science Foundation.

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W.X., A.V., S.L.P., J.L., and Z.O. designed research; W.X., A.V., L.K., J.Z., Y. X., and L.Z., performed research; W.X., L.K., J.Z., W.Y., and L.Z. analysed data; and W.X., A.V., S.L.P., W.Y., X.C., J.L., and Z.O. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Stuart L. Pimm or Zhiyun Ouyang.

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Xu, W., Viña, A., Kong, L. et al. Reassessing the conservation status of the giant panda using remote sensing. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 1635–1638 (2017).

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