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Chinese Officials Say Panda’s Bamboo Won’t Run Out

Chinese experts disagree that climate change will cause bamboo die-offs in the Qinling Mountains.

| December 10, 2012 | Top News

AsianScientist (Dec. 10, 2012) – Chinese experts have disagreed with a recent Nature Climate Change report that climate change will cause bamboo die-offs in the Qinling Mountains, threatening the wild panda population there.

In the report, scientists from Michigan State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences forecasted that the three dominant bamboo species – arrow, wooden, and dragon-head – would likely disappear by the end of the 21st century.

The authors say that bamboo have an unusual reproductive cycle, flowering and reproducing only once every 30 to 35 years, which limits the plants’ ability to adapt to a changing climate.

Bamboo growth remains healthy in major panda habitats, reassures Ouyang Zhiyun, chief of the State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an interview with China Daily.

Climate change may cause bamboo to grow at higher altitudes in the Qinling Mountains, but otherwise would not affect the panda’s food supply, he said.

Zhang Hemin, chief of the administrative bureau of the Wolong National Nature Reserve, told China Daily that the endangered animals will be able to find other varieties of bamboo if supplies of one variety fell.

“China has 37 bamboo species located at elevations from 400 to 3,500 meters. If certain species die within 100 years, other species might thrive to fill the gap,” Zhang told China Daily.

The Qinling Mountains in China’s Shaanxi Province is home to around 275 wild pandas, about 17 percent of the remaining wild population. The pandas have been geographically isolated for thousands of years and vary genetically from other giant pandas.

China has 64 giant panda nature reserves in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces, covering more than 70 percent of the wild panda population.

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Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Chris Wieland/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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