It what may be an unintended consequence of climate change, bamboo may cease to grow naturally, putting the world's panda population in jeopardy.
A study that was recently published stated that increases in the global temperature during this century will almost certainly lead to the destruction of bamboo, which is the main source of food for endangered pandas.
Researchers warn that if bamboo is not moved to other, more favorable habitats, the plant species will almost certainly go extinct and pandas will surely follow suit.
The more pressing matter is that of action, say researchers, because if conservation programs take too long to materialize, human activities and developments could overtake all of the new habitable areas.
"It is tough, but I think there's still hope, if we take action now," Jianguo Liu, research team member and a sustainability scientist at Michigan State University, told LiveScience.com. "If we wait, then we could be too late."
For the study, researchers used different climate-change models to estimate the future outcome of three bamboo species that are eaten by pandas in the Qinling Mountain region of China.
The area currently represents about a quarter of the total remaining panda habitat, and the models forecasted a moderate rise in temperature during the this century. It is estimated that between 80 and 100 percent of the bamboo will die off by the end of the 21st century.
Researchers do predict that if the bamboo can be relocated to cooler elevations then the plant will be able to thrive and grow. This depends on if the world's leaders are also focused on limiting greenhouse-gas emissions in the future.
"All the models are quite consistent - the general trend is the same," Liu told LiveScience.com.
"The difference is the degree of the changes. Even with very hopeful scenarios, where we allow bamboo to go anywhere it wants, there are still very severe consequences. Of course, if the bamboo has nowhere to go, then the panda habitat will be lost more quickly," he added.