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To: SampleMan

Imagine how tough it would be to be a predator who ate Pandas.

The Lodka Volterra equations relate predator-prey numbers (I used to be a programmer for Dr. Schaefer at Univ of Ariz).

First, there are never enough to support mutations that make predation on Pandas easier. Second, if such a mutation occurred, it would die out after Panda numbers got small.

What else eats bamboo? Little competition could be an advantage, bamboo grows quickly, and the sedentary nature and stored energy permits the Panda to survive periodic reductions in bamboo availability. It is doubtless a vulnerability. A bamboo killing fungus would probably kill the panda too.

By comparison, consider the hoofed rat (aka whitetail deer). It overbreeds, and then starves absent predation. Hunting rules change to adapt to wide variation in its numbers, in an attempt to reduce mass starvation incidents.


50 posted on 03/05/2013 8:48:50 AM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: donmeaker

OOps, his name is spelled Schaffer...

Allen J. C., Schaffer, W. M. and D. Rosko. 1993. Chaos reduces species extinction by amplifying local population noise. Nature. 364: 229-232.

May give you some insight into the value of Panda low reproduction rates.


51 posted on 03/05/2013 8:54:42 AM PST by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: donmeaker
First, there are never enough to support mutations that make predation on Pandas easier. Second, if such a mutation occurred, it would die out after Panda numbers got small.

That presumes the predator would only eat Pandas, which isn't realistic. Tigers and leopards both existed in the panda's historical range and did/do eat pandas. Smaller predators have been known to take panda cubs.

What else eats bamboo? Little competition could be an advantage, bamboo grows quickly, and the sedentary nature and stored energy permits the Panda to survive periodic reductions in bamboo availability. It is doubtless a vulnerability. A bamboo killing fungus would probably kill the panda too.

Yes, digesting bamboo has its positives, but eating almost nothing but bamboo has big negatives. There is little nutritional value in it. Its odd that Pandas are genetically and functionally omnivores and can digest meat and other plants, they just oddly choose not to. A very odd adaptation that I can't even suppose any advantage to.

By comparison, consider the hoofed rat (aka whitetail deer). It overbreeds, and then starves absent predation. Hunting rules change to adapt to wide variation in its numbers, in an attempt to reduce mass starvation incidents.

I'm not sure there is any proof of natural overpopulation. Deer, like many species, have been greatly augmented by mankind. We create large amounts of available food and we have killed of their primary predators. Meanwhile, we limit our predation on them to protect the newest generation.

52 posted on 03/05/2013 10:27:22 AM PST by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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