Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh splits red panda into two phylogenetic species


With the recent classification of red panda into two phylogenetic species, we propose ‘Siang river’ as a potential boundary for species divergence between the Himalayan red panda (Ailurus fulgens) and the Chinese red panda (Ailurus styani). Bayesian-based phylogeny and MJ network splited all the sequences of red pandas into two distinct clusters in accordance with the origin of the samples collected from the east and west side of the Siang river. The clade 1 that represented Himalayan red panda was formed by the inclusion of samples originated from the north West Bengal, Sikkim, and central and Western Arunachal Pradesh and South Tibet, located in the west of Siang river. While, clade 2 stood to Chinese red panda, and represented samples originated from Dibang valley of eastern Arunachal Pradesh, India and Southwest China, in the east of Siang river. This study provides pragmatic genetic evidence and demonstrates Siang river as a potential boundary of species divergence in red panda by contributing samples from Indian Himalayan Region. We suggest being associated with diverse habitats, threats and transboundary distribution, both species of red panda require regional as well as transboundary level conservation initiatives and multilateral cooperation for a species survival plan.

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Fig. 1

Availability of data and material

Authors submitted all the novel haplotypes in NCBI/GenBank under the following accession numbers MT891293-MT891310 and other relevant information is available with the manuscript and supplementary files.


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We thank Principal Chief Wildlife Warden, Forest Departments of red panda range States for granting the necessary permission to carry out the study.


The research is funded by DST—INSPIRE FACULTY SCHEME (Grant No. DST/INSPIRE/04/2016/002246) awarded to Dr Mukesh Thakur and funds received National Mission for Himalayan Studies, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), New Delhi, India (Grant No. NMHS/2017–18/LG09/02/476).

Author information




SD undertook field survey and collected samples and BDJ, SD and SKS undertook genetic analysis in the mentorship of MT. BDJ, SKS and TM prepared map and figures in the manuscript. MT and LKS conceptualized idea and BDJ, SKS and MT wrote the primary draft of the manuscript with inputs from LKS. KC supervised the overall activities and provided all the logistic support and administrative approval. All authors read the manuscript and agreed to the contents.

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Correspondence to Mukesh Thakur.

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Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

We obtained necessary research permission for undertaking field survey and sample collection from the red panda range states—Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, West Bengal Forest Department (letter No. CWL/Gen/173/2018-18/Pt.VII/1728-37 dated 06.09.2018; 78/GOS/FEWMD/BDR/CCF (HQ)/ 113 dated 16.01.2019; 1689/WL/2M/126/2018 Dated 05.07.2018).

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Bheem Dutt Joshi and Supriyo Dalui authors have contributed equally to this study.

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Joshi, B.D., Dalui, S., Singh, S.K. et al. Siang river in Arunachal Pradesh splits red panda into two phylogenetic species. Mamm Biol 101, 121–124 (2021).

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  • Red panda
  • Species divergence
  • Siang river
  • Yalu Zangbu river