• adaptive management;
  • conservation policy;
  • endangered species;
  • giant panda;
  • strategic conservation plan


The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca David, 1869) is an iconic species for global conservation, yet field research has only recently advanced to the point where adaptive management is possible. Here, we review recent developments in giant panda conservation science and propose a strategic plan for moving panda conservation forward. Because of scientific, funding, political, and logistical hurdles, few endangered species management programs have embraced adaptive management, wherein management decisions are shaped iteratively by targeted scientific research. Specific threats, such as habitat destruction, anthropogenic disturbance and fragmented nonviable populations, need to be addressed simultaneously by researchers, managers and policy-makers working in concert to understand and overcome these obstacles to species recovery. With the backing of the Chinese Government and the conservation community, the giant panda can become a high-profile test species for this much touted, but rarely implemented, approach to conservation management.