BEIJING, July 15 (UPI) -- Male and female giant pandas in the wild prefer to be in different habitats, Chinese researchers say.
Researchers at the Institute for Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences say female pandas frequent high-altitude conifer forests and mixed forests on steeper slopes, whereas males roam more widely, the BBC reported Friday.
Scientists have identified the basic type of habitat pandas need to survive, which tends to be forests above 5,000 feet rich in bamboo, the pandas' main food.
But the specific habitat preferences of males and females have been largely ignored until now.
Female pandas tend to limit their movements to within high-altitude conifer forests and mixed forests and also prefer habitat that slopes at between 10 and 20 degrees, as such areas provide den sites for birthing and dense bamboo cover in which baby pandas can hide.
Males, on the other hand, range more widely, covering areas that overlap the ranges of several females, researchers said.
This segregation of the sexes needs to be considered in conservation and management efforts to safeguard the giant panda, they said.