Niche Modeling for the Giant Panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, and the Original Panda, Ailurus fulgens: Habitat Preferences and Evolutionary Consequences

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Lyon, Lauren M
East Tennessee State University
Maxent; Morphometrics; Carnivora; Ailuridae; Ursidae; Conservation; Geographic Information Sciences; Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
thesis / dissertation description
The well-known symbol for conservation, the giant panda bear, and the original red panda have been forced into remote habitats due to anthropogenic disturbance, making ecological study difficult. Therefore the first known species distribution model was created to predict the most likely areas of occurrence within the known range of these elusive animals. These models were then projected onto North America and evaluated against existing breeding programs. Additionally, the close proximity of the Gray Fossil Site and the discovery of the most complete fossil red panda specimens in the world allowed ecomorphological comparisons between the modern red panda, Ailurus fulgens and the fossil red panda, Pristinailurus bristoli. Spatial data and morphometric results from this study will aid conservation work and breeding programs globally.