Giant Panda Tian Tian Diet project

Dr Linda Neaves - Pandas eat more than shoots and leaves One of Edinburgh Zoos Giant panda Tian Tian, based at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, provides support - and poo (Scat) - to scientists at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) who aim to improve conservation in the wild through better understanding of exactly what members of this iconic species eat. Despite their reputation as picky eaters, previous work has suggested that pandas may eat as many as 60 different species of bamboo and could possibly even consume other plant species, fungi and animals. That's why RBGE - working in collaboration with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) - has been awarded £250,000 Leverhulme Trust funding to undertake DNA research into the hidden complexity of giant panda diet. It is already widely accepted that all species of bamboo are not the same to the giant panda - they may have different nutritional values or be more difficult to digest - and the precise species consumed might vary according to individual requirements, availability, season or location. However, there remains a huge gap in knowledge regarding exactly what they eat and when they eat it and we have almost no information on what or why species other than bamboo are eaten. Understanding the details of diet in any species can be difficult as observation of wild animals and visual examination of scats only captures a small proportion of species eaten. This is further complicated in the case of the panda by difficulties in telling bamboo species apart, especially once digested. Therefore, to establish a basic body of information, RBGE is receiving panda scat samples from zoos, where it is known exactly what and how much the animals have been fed, to develop DNA-based methods that can then be used on samples from the wild. Dr Linda Neaves, the molecular ecologist heading-up the RBGE team explained: "Next generation sequencing technologies will be used to investigate the DNA contained in panda scats to id at Edinburgh Zoo - Edinburgh, United Kingdom - Tuesday 12th April 2016 (5 Pictures)


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Dr Linda Neaves
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Dr Linda Neaves
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Dr Linda Neaves
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Dr Linda Neaves
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Dr Linda Neaves
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