Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biodiversity conservation: Zoos urged to breed animals from threatened populations

Date:
March 17, 2011
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Zoological gardens breed animals from threatened populations and can thus make a greater contribution towards biodiversity conservation.

Pandas in a zoo. Of around seven land vertebrate species whose survival in the wild is threatened one is also kept in captivity.
Credit: iStockphoto/Beti Gorse

Of around seven land vertebrate species whose survival in the wild is threatened one is also kept in captivity. These and other data on the protection of species in zoos and aquaria have now been revealed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock.

Related Articles


Writing in the journal Science, the team of researchers and the International Species Information System (ISIS) advocate the establishment of targeted captive breeding programmes to supplement the protection of animals in the wild. To do this, zoos should team up in networks and shelter these animals, as a form of life insurance, until they can be released back into the wild.

The researchers used data from the International Species Information System (ISIS) to calculate how many of the endangered species can already be found at zoological gardens: 20 to 25 percent of all endangered mammal species are kept at zoos. The overall figure for birds is only slightly less than that, but is much lower for avian species that are acutely at risk of extinction: only nine percent of these are found in captivity. Only three percent of endangered amphibian species are kept in captivity.

The role of zoos for species conservation must not be underestimated, Dalia Conde and Alexander Scheuerlein have stressed. "While it is true that the number of endangered species and individual animals at any one zoo is small," say the biologists, who conduct their research at the MPIDR's Laboratory of Evolutionary Biodemography, "if several institutions link up, zoological gardens will have a considerable collective potential to breed endangered animal species."

Specialist zoos for greater breeding success

The Science authors advocate the establishment of "specialist zoos" that concentrate on breeding just one or a small number of species: "Specialisation generally increases breeding success," say Conde and Scheuerlein. "The animals can be 'parked' at these zoos until they have a chance of survival in the natural environment and can then be returned to the wild." Nate Flesness, who is the scientific director of largest data holdings of zoos (ISIS), and is also co-author of the paper stressed hat it also makes a lot of sense to include animals in breeding programmes at an early stage, before their stocks in the wild decline too much. "Zoos should not be regarded as a last-resort emergency ward, because the chances of successful breeding are decreased if the last surviving, weakened individuals of a species need to be used for this purpose."

Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has also determined how successful captive breeding is at supporting species protection: breeding at zoos has played a key role in 17 of the 68 vertebrate species whose risk status has now been downgraded by the organisation. Examples of these success stories include the Asiatic wild horse (Przewalski's horse), the black-footed ferret (a member of the mustelid family) and the Californian condor.

Breeding programmes at zoos also deliver new demographic data which are useful in species conservation: When is the onset of sexual maturity in an animal species? What is its litter or clutch size? At what intervals does a species reproduce? "Such fundamental data on their demographic development are unknown for many species," say Dalia Conde and Alexander Scheuerlein. "However, they are urgently needed to allow us to estimate the future fate of a species and its chances of survival in the wild."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. A. Conde, N. Flesness, F. Colchero, O. R. Jones and A. Scheuerlein. An Emerging Role of Zoos to Conserve Biodiversity. Science, 18 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6023 pp. 1390-1391 DOI: 10.1126/science.1200674

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Biodiversity conservation: Zoos urged to breed animals from threatened populations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317141416.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2011, March 17). Biodiversity conservation: Zoos urged to breed animals from threatened populations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317141416.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Biodiversity conservation: Zoos urged to breed animals from threatened populations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317141416.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins