Chapter

Variation in Ursid Life HistoriesIs

Garshelis David L.

in Giant Pandas

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238671
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930162 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238671.003.0006
Variation in Ursid Life HistoriesIs

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This chapter reports that the giant panda is most divergent taxonomically and has some distinctive life-history traits, such as a specialized but nonnutritive diet, exceedingly small cubs at birth, and, despite frequently producing twins (like other bears), generally raising only one cub. Moreover, it examines the variation in the life histories of bears, both within and across species. The chapter compares the life-history strategies used by the eight species of bears and explains some of the differences. Giant pandas appear to be an outlier in terms of litter size, but not necessarily in terms of total reproductive output. The long-term conservation of small, isolated, and increasingly human-impacted bear populations will require innovative, pragmatic, and site-specific approaches. A brief report that provides a long-awaited glimpse into the nature of giant-panda reproduction is presented.

Keywords: Ursid; life history; litter size; reproductive output; conservation

Chapter.  13282 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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