The panda lineage dates back to the late Miocene and ultimately leads to only one extant species, the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Although global climate change and anthropogenic disturbances are recognized to shape animal population demography their contribution to panda population dynamics remains largely unknown. We sequenced the whole genomes of 34 pandas at an average 4.7-fold coverage and used this data set together with the previously deep-sequenced panda genome to reconstruct a continuous demographic history of pandas from their origin to the present. We identify two population expansions, two bottlenecks and two divergences. Evidence indicated that, whereas global changes in climate were the primary drivers of population fluctuation for millions of years, human activities likely underlie recent population divergence and serious decline. We identified three distinct panda populations that show genetic adaptation to their environments. However, in all three populations, anthropogenic activities have negatively affected pandas for 3,000 years.
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