Panda report!

(from Jim)

Male panda in a tree at Foping Panda Reserve (D. Raubenheimer photo)

Sitting at the airport, about to leave for Phoenix.  Our trip to China was a great success.  After two days visiting historic Xian (including the terracotta warriors), Monica and I headed, along with Nie Yonggang (Wei Fuwen’s PhD student), to Foping and the Foping Nature Reserve.  We hiked 7 km to the research station and spent four days hiking and “chasing” pandas.  We were lucky enough to see them on three of the four days (see pic).  We were joined by nutritional ecologist David Raubenheimer (Massey University) and were able to have extended discussions of how to proceed with new studies of the nutritional ecology of pandas.  Basically, we wish to understand how pandas achieve (or fail to achieve) a diet balanced in protein, carbohydrate, P, Ca, Na, etc given their very limited diet (which, in Foping, consists of only two bamboo species).  Great fun was had and more studies are to come during the coming years.  Thanks to our wonderful Chinese hosts for the hospitality.

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