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Although giant panda's populations are rising, their conservation status is still uncertain, according to a study published Monday in Nature Ecology and Evolution. Researchers found the panda's habitat is smaller and more fragmented than it was when the bear was first put on the endangered species list in 1990.

Why it matters: Thanks in large part to China's efforts to restore the bamboo-eating bear's habitat, the panda population has been growing, and last year the bear was reclassified from endangered to vulnerable by the IUCN. But if that same habitat is becoming more fragmented, the improvements made might not be enough to support a growing population.

What they did: The researchers compared satellite images from 1976, 1988, 2001 and 2013.

  • From 1976-2001, the habitat increased by 4.9 percent, and has only gone up by 0.4% since 2001.
  • From 1976-2001, the average size of a roadless forest patch decreased by 24%, and grew 1.8% since 2001.

The bottom line: Moving pandas from the endangered to threatened list last fall was "a recognition of panda conservation success so far. But pandas are still facing threats, especially climate change. It does not mean that panda conservation should stop," study author Jianguo Liu told Ben Guarino of the Washington Post.

Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.