Climate change threatens giant panda protection in the 21st century

Renqiang Li, Ming Xu, Michelle Hang Gi Wong, Shuai Qiu, Xinhai Li, Davis Ehrenfeld, Dianmo Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


It is increasingly recognized that biotic interactions could play a significant role in species distribution modelling. To assess the conservation effectiveness of the giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca) reserves in a changing climate, we combined both biotic variables (food availability) and abiotic (climatic and geographic) to project the potential changes of distribution and quality of giant panda habitats using the most recent IPCC-CMIP5 climate scenarios. Our results suggested that climate change would adversely affect giant pandas through habitat degradation, in that: (1) 52.9-71.3% of the current habitats could be lost; (2) the giant panda habitats could become more fragmented and isolated; and (3) both the quantity and quality of habitats in the current giant panda reserves could substantially contract, and approximately 20% of the reserves could lose all habitat representations in this century. Additionally, we found that climate change would make it increasingly necessary to translocate small populations of pandas from the southwestern to the northwestern part of the current distribution range to ensure population viability. Our results suggest the need for immediate change in current conservation policies and formulating adaptation plans for giant panda conservation in a changing climate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • Biotic interaction
  • Climate change
  • Conservation effectiveness
  • Conservation policies
  • Giant panda habitats


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