I have a degree in Biology so I'm a little embarrassed that I never learned this, but...

How do we know 1600 Pandas isn't enough?

I know that we have historical numbers (although I couldn't find them) which show the population has declined, but we also know the usable habitat has declined and it would be foolish to not consider that when trying to replenish the wild population. It seems to me that if there's only 1600 Pandas in the wild, that's probably the right number. How do we know it's not?

I will accept answers about other endangered animals, if they show how we can calculate the approximate "appropriate" number for a species.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Relevant question: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/305/… $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Oct 31, 2014 at 18:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That would be part of a good answer - "we think 1600 is below the smallest viable population" $\endgroup$
    – Jasmine
    Oct 31, 2014 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Minimum viable population (MVP) can be predicted in two ways.

PVA is considered generally more common practice by ecologists and without a reference to the 1600 panda population you mention, my guess would be that this is what they did. PVAs work well for endangered species prediction.

A typical example of PVA was carried out on an endangered species Fender's blue butterfly an endangered species (Schultz et al., 2003). However there is currently no scientific standard on how a PVA should be done.

Schultz, Cheryl B.; Hammond, Paul C. (October 2003). "Using Population Viability Analysis to Develop Recovery Criteria for Endangered Insects: Case Study of the Fender's Blue Butterfly". Conservation Biology 17 (5): 1372–1385.


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