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Diet and nutrient balance of red panda in Nepal


We identified the winter plant species consumed by red panda in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve of eastern Nepal and compared this to the early-summer diet which was determined previously by Panthi et al. (2012). In addition, we estimated the proximate nutritional content of the leaves identified in red panda diet for both seasons, and we used nutritional geometry to explore macronutrient balance of leaves from the two different sampling periods. We identified six different plants in winter scats, which were the same as found in the previously determined early-summer diet. Arundinaria spp. bamboos were the main species found (82.1 % relative frequency), followed by Acer spp. (6.3 %), Betula utilis (4.6 %), Quercus semicarpifolia (3.7 %), Berberis spp. (1.3 %), and lichens (1.0 %), leaving 2.0 % unidentified. Geometric analysis suggested that the macronutrient balance of seasonal diets were similar in nutrient balance to the most frequently consumed Arundinaria spp. Differences in macronutrient balance may indicate seasonal nutrient preferences, such as increased carbohydrate intake in winter for thermogenesis, and increased protein and lipid intake in early summer to support reproduction and lactation; however, these differences may also indicate differences in resource availability. Habitat conserved for red panda in the region should include sufficient Arundinaria spp. as well as lesser consumed plants which may serve as complimentary foods.

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We would like to thank the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation-DHR and all DHR staff for their support in conducting this study. Rufford Small Grants Foundation kindly provided funding to support fieldwork. We would also like to thank Associate Professor Raj Kumar Koirala (the Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University, Pokhara, Nepal) and Nepal Environmental Scientific Society for their support in providing laboratory facilities for the diet and nutrient analysis respectively. We thank to Bikash Adhikari, Krishna Acharya (Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation Nepal) and Gandiv Kafle (Institute of Forestry, Hetauda, Nepal) for their support.

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Correspondence to Achyut Aryal.

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Communicated by: Sven Thatje

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Panthi, S., Coogan, S.C.P., Aryal, A. et al. Diet and nutrient balance of red panda in Nepal. Sci Nat 102, 54 (2015).

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  • Ailuridae
  • Bamboo
  • Foraging
  • Nutritional geometry
  • Right-angled mixture triangle analysis