New information about Giant Panda reproduction is available due to a new three-year study. Published on April 4 in Biology of Reproduction's Papers-in-Press, the authors discovered that male and female pandas both have reproductive seasonality.
Males are ready for reproduction for six or more months of the year, meanwhile the female pandas are only in the mood for one to three days during February to May, Discovery News reports from the study. While that short time period makes mating for the male pandas seem tough, they have it even worse. Lead author, Copper Aitken-Palmer told Discovery News that, In order for the males to find females and breed successfully, they must travel large distances across difficult terrain.
During their three-years examining the Giant Pandas, Aitken-Palmer and her team studied eight male panda's testosterone levels, sperm concentration, testes size and reproductive behavior. The team discovered that as the males get reproductively fit before the females, their behavior changes. Aitken-Palmer said that increased vocalizations and scent marking, are some of the behavioral changes seen in the males, but this doesn't stop them from being respectful to the female pandas.
Co-author Rebecca Spindler told Discovery News that, The males are generally very good barometers of female receptivity, and will not breed with females outside of their receptive period.
When the reproductive time is right for both sexes, the authors discovered that it is energy efficient, in that the males are sure they have enough sperm.
Female Giant Pandas only have one to two cubs biannually, reports Discovery News. As an endangered species, their mating habits are a big concern for conservationists. Currently there are less than 1,600 Giant Pandas in the wild, reports CNN.