General Methods

All analyses presented here were based on The 2001 International Studbook for the Giant Panda (Xie & Gipps, 2001), which is maintained using the software SPARKS (Single Population Analysis and Record Keeping System) (ISIS, 1994). A major change to the studbook over the earlier 1999 edition has been the resolution of many of the uncertain paternities. To optimise pregnancy success, female pandas are often naturally mated plus artificially inseminated with sperm from one or more males, a practice leading to questionable paternity of resulting cubs. Molecular genetic analyses by David et al. (see Chapter 10) have resolved many of these uncertainties, making the 2001 edition of the studbook (as well as more recent editions) much more valuable for assessing population viability.

Despite new data, some information remains as estimates, for example, the age at which wild-caught pandas enter the captive population. Often, ages are estimated on the basis of dental wear and overall physical condition. For our analysis, we assumed that wild-caught pandas without estimated birth dates entered the population as young adults unless noted otherwise.

Details of the specific methods used for the demographic and genetic analyses are provided in the appropriate sections below. PM2000 Version 1.17 software (Pollak et al., 2002) was used for many of these analyses whereas VORTEX Version 8.32 software (Miller & Lacy, 1999) was used to evaluate population viability. SAS version 8.03 software (Statistical Analysis System, SAS, 2001) was used for all statistical testing.

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