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  • Institute for Conservation Research

    Peer reviewed and scientific works by SDZG's Institute for Conservation Research staff. Includes books, book sections, articles and conference publications and presentations.

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  • SDZG Research Publications

    Peer reviewed and scientific works by San Diego Zoo Global staff. Includes books, book sections, articles and conference publications and presentations.

Recent Submissions

  • Advances and constraints in somatic embryogenesis of Araucaria angustifolia, Acca sellowiana, and Bactris gasipaes

    Stefenon, Valdir Marcos; Ree, Joseph Francis; Pinheiro, Marcos Vinicius Marques; Goeten, Daniela; Steiner, Neusa; Guerra, Miguel Pedro (2020)
    Somatic embryogenesis (SE) is a useful biotechnological tool to promote the conservation of plant genetic resources. Araucaria angustifolia, Acca sellowiana, and Bactris gasipaes are forest species with recognized ecological, cultural, and economic importance in the subtropical Atlantic Forest and the tropical Amazon Forest…. Here we reviewed and discussed the advancements and continuing constraints in the SE of these species, pointing out the more successful procedures….
  • Depositional diseases

    Graham, E.A.; Burns, Rachel E.; Ossiboff, R. J.; Garner, Michael M.; Jacobson, Elliott R. (CRC Press, 2021)
    This book accompanies Infectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles, Second Edition to cover noninfectious diseases of reptiles, meeting the need for a similar, authoritative single-source reference. The volume features color photos of normal anatomy and histology, as well as gross, light, and electron microscopic imagery of diseases. Subjects range from neoplasia, nutrition, and metabolic disease, and deposition disorders to developmental anomalies, trauma, and physical diseases, and the unique contribution of paleopathology and diseases of bone. Each chapter is supported by numerous figures, many of which are unique and cannot be found in the published literature. Readers will note that some of the chapters are based on organ system, a trend that will continue into the next edition to encompass all of the basic organ systems. This book holds the most information ever accrued into one publication on noninfectious diseases and pathology of this class of animals, providing information on every aspect of the anatomy, pathophysiology, and differential diagnosis. With up-to-the-minute data, a never-before-seen collection of images, and a stellar panel of contributors, Noninfectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles is the definitive resource for veterinarians, biologists, and researchers involved in the study of reptile diseases.
  • Hunters versus hunted: New perspectives on the energetic costs of survival at the top of the food chain

    Williams, Terrie M.; Jørgensen, Mads Peter-Heide; Pagano, Anthony M.; Bryce, Caleb M. (2020)
    Global biotic and abiotic threats, particularly from pervasive human activities, are progressively pushing large, apex carnivorous mammals into the functional role of mesopredator. Hunters are now becoming the hunted….
  • Environmental violence and the socio-environmental (de)evolution of a landscape in the San Quintín Valley.

    Narchi, Nemer E.; Vanderplank, Sula E.; Medina-Rodríguez, Jesús; Alfaro-Mercado, Enrique (2020)
    The social and environmental effects of industrial agriculture in the San Quintín Valley of Baja California are closely related. An environmental history of the...
  • Characterization of color pattern dimorphism in Turks and Caicos boas, Chilabothrus chrysogaster chrysogaster, on Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands

    Reynolds, R. Graham; Gerber, Glenn P.; Burgess, Joseph P.; Waters, George H.; Manco, B. Naqqi (2020)
    …Based on examination of 737 live wild specimens observed over 12 yr within a population of boas on Big Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands, we characterized the striped/spotted CPD and examined potential morphological and spatial correlates of this pattern dimorphism. Contrary to predictions based on studies of similar CPD in colubrid snakes, we found no association between striped or spotted morphs and sex, age, size, or potential morphological correlates….
  • Co-designing behavior change interventions to conserve biodiversity

    Bowie, Matthew J.; Dietrich, Timo; Cassey, Phillip; Veríssimo, Diogo (2020)
    Many threats to biodiversity are the result of human actions, which means that changing human behavior can positively alter the trajectory of our current biodiversity crisis. While there is an increasing number of behavior change interventions being implemented in biodiversity conservation, their design is rarely informed by the people they try to influence, thereby lowering the probability of success. Building successful interventions requires substantial audience research, but this can be challenging for conservation projects with perennially limited time and resources. Here, we critically discuss co-design as a useful and effective approach for gathering audience insights relatively quickly, allowing conservation practitioners to integrate end-user voices when they would otherwise be excluded from intervention design. Specifically, we present a seven-step co-design process, providing an outline and guidance for how to generate more user-centric intervention ideas and transform them into feasible prototype interventions. Further, we show how we applied this seven-step process with coffee consumers in a sustainable conservation context. This study outlines contributions that showcase the value of user-centered design approaches to behavior change interventions for biodiversity conservation.
  • Deciphering genetic mate choice: Not so simple in group-housed conservation breeding programs

    Farquharson, Katherine A.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Belov, Katherine; Grueber, Catherine E. (2020)
    Incorporating mate choice into conservation breeding programs can improve reproduction and the retention of natural behaviors. However, different types of genetic-based mate choice can have varied consequences for genetic diversity management. As a result, it is important to examine mechanisms of mate choice in captivity to assess its costs and benefits. Most research in this area has focused on experimental pairing trials; however, this resource-intensive approach is not always feasible in captive settings and can interfere with other management constraints. We used generalized linear mixed models and permutation approaches to investigate overall breeding success in group-housed Tasmanian devils at three nonmutually exclusive mate choice hypotheses: (a) advantage of heterozygous individuals, (b) advantage of dissimilar mates, and (c) optimum genetic distance, using both 1,948 genome-wide SNPs and 12 MHC-linked microsatellites. The managed devil insurance population is the largest such breeding program in Australia and is known to have high variance in reproductive success. We found that nongenetic factors such as age were the best predictors of breeding success in a competitive breeding scenario, with younger females and older males being more successful. We found no evidence of mate choice under the hypotheses tested. Mate choice varies among species and across environments, so we advocate for more studies in realistic captive management contexts as experimental or wild studies may not apply. Conservation managers must weigh up the need to wait for adequate sample sizes to detect mate choice with the risk that genetic changes may occur during this time in captivity. Our study shows that examining and integrating mate choice into the captive management of species housed in realistic, semi-natural group-based contexts may be more difficult than previously considered.
  • Genetic structure of Rhinoceros Rock Iguanas, Cyclura cornuta, in the Dominican Republic, with insights into the impact of captive facilities and the taxonomic status of Cyclura on Mona Island

    Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Colosimo, Giuliano; Carreras-De León, Rosanna; Gerber, Glenn P. (2020)
    …To better understand the population structure of this species, we used a combination of mtDNA and nuclear markers to elucidate the genetic variation of wild populations across 13 sampling regions in the Dominican Republic (DR), as well as neighboring Mona Island, home to a Cyclura population of uncertain taxonomic status…. Our results suggest that the captive facilities may pose a threat to wild populations and increased regulation of these facilities is needed….
  • Patterns of genetic partitioning and gene flow in the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) and implications for conservation management

    Hendricks, Sarah; Navarro, Asako Y.; Wang, Thea B.; Wilder, Aryn P.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Shier, Debra M. (2020)
    ...We examined the genetic diversity, population structure, and phylogeography of this subspecies using partial mitochrondrial DNA sequencing and microsatellite genotyping. Our study indicates that currently, the three remaining populations seem to be highly fragmented....
  • The rules of attraction: The necessary role of animal cognition in explaining conservation failures and successes

    Greggor, Alison L.; Berger-Tal, Oded; Blumstein, Daniel T. (2020)
    Integrating knowledge and principles of animal behavior into wildlife conservation and management has led to some concrete successes but has failed to improve conservation outcomes in other cases. Many conservation interventions involve attempts to either attract or repel animals, which we refer to as approach/avoidance issues....
  • A demonstration of conservation genomics for threatened species management

    Wright, Belinda R.; Farquharson, Katherine A.; McLennan, Elspeth A.; Belov, Katherine; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Grueber, Catherine E. (2020)
    ... We conducted whole genome sequencing (WGS) of 25 individuals from the captive breeding programme and reduced‐representation sequencing (RRS) of 98 founders of the same programme. A subset of the WGS samples was also sequenced by RRS, allowing us to directly compare genome‐wide heterozygosity with estimates from RRS data. We found good congruence in interindividual variation and gene‐ontology classifications between the two data sets, indicating that our RRS data reflect the genome well....
  • Koala retrovirus diversity, transmissibility, and disease associations

    Zheng, HaoQiang; Pan, Yi; Tang, Shaohua; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Stadler, Cynthia K; Vogelnest, Larry; Herrin, Kimberly Vinette; Rideout, Bruce; Switzer, William M. (2020)
    Background Koalas are infected with the koala retrovirus (KoRV) that exists as exogenous or endogenous viruses. KoRV is genetically diverse with co-infection with up to ten envelope subtypes (A-J) possible; KoRV-A is the prototype endogenous form. KoRV-B, first found in a small number of koalas with an increased leukemia prevalence at one US zoo, has been associated with other cancers and increased chlamydial disease. To better understand the molecular epidemiology of KoRV variants and the effect of increased viral loads (VLs) on transmissibility and pathogenicity we developed subtype-specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays and tested blood and tissue samples from koalas at US zoos (n=78), two Australian zoos (n=27) and wild-caught (n=21) in Australia. We analyzed PCR results with available clinical, demographic, and pedigree data. Results All koalas were KoRV-A-infected. A small number of koalas (10.3%) at one US zoo were also infected with non-A subtypes, while a higher non-A subtype prevalence (59.3%) was found in koalas at Australian zoos. Wild koalas from one location were only infected with KoRV-A. We observed a significant association of infection and plasma VLs of non-A subtypes in koalas that died of leukemia/lymphoma and other neoplasias and report cancer diagnoses in KoRV-A-positive animals. Infection and VLs of non-A subtypes was not associated with age or sex. Transmission of non-A subtypes occurred from dam-to-offspring and likely following adult-to-adult contact, but associations with contact type were not evaluated. Brief antiretroviral treatment of one leukemic koala infected with high plasma levels of KoRV-A, -B, and -F did not affect VL or disease progression. Conclusions Our results show a significant association of non-A KoRV infection and plasma VLs with leukemia and other
  • Ecology and conservation of the Turks Island boa (Epicrates chrysogaster chrysogaster: Squamata: Boidae) on Big Ambergris Cay

    Reynolds, R.G.; Gerber, Glenn P. (2012)
    The boid genus Epicrates contains 10 species in the West Indies, several of which are listed as threatened or endangered, whereas the status of the others remains unknown. Little is known about Turks Island Boas (Epicrates chrysogaster chrysogaster), a subspecies of the Southern Bahamas Boa endemic to the Turks and Caicos Islands, and no published ecological studies exist for this subspecies. A long history of human habitation, greatly exacerbated by exponentially increasing development in the last several decades, appears to be threatening the remaining populations of these boas. However, a lack of basic ecological information is holding back conservation efforts. Here we report on the first multiyear ecological study of Turks Island Boas, focusing on an important population located on the small island of Big Ambergris Cay in the southeastern margin of the Caicos Bank. Encounter rates of up to 3.5 snakes per person-hour make this population especially easy to study. We captured 249 snakes, 11 of which were recaptures. We provide basic natural history information including size, color pattern, girth, body temperature, abundance, diet, activity, diurnal refuge selection, and population size. We also clarify the known distribution and discuss the conservation concerns of this species. This study fills a gap in our ecological knowledge of Bahamian boas and will provide important baseline data for the Big Ambergris Cay population of Turks Island Boas as this small island undergoes extensive development over the next several decades.
  • Effects of season and social interaction on fecal testosterone in wild male giant pandas: implications for energetics and mating strategies

    Nie, Y.; Zhang, Z.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Wei, F. (2012)
    In the first-ever study of reproductive endocrinology in wild male giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), we provide new insights into the reproductive ecology of the species. We tracked and observed pandas in Foping Nature Reserve of the Qinling Mountains for 3 years, collecting fecal samples for testosterone metabolite analysis and data on reproductive activity....
  • Efforts to restore the California condor to the wild

    Wallace, Michael (2012)
    By the early 1980s new studies using radio telemetry and moult patterns to identify individuals indicated that only 21 California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) existed, with five pairs sporadically breeding. With continuous and poorly understood mortality, the decision was made to capture the remaining animals and in 1987 all 27 birds were placed in the protective custody of the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos, at which time the species was considered Extinct in the Wild....
  • Diagnosis and control of amphibian chytridiomycosis

    Pessier, Allan P.; Miller, R. Eric; Fowler, Murray E. (Elsevier SaundersSt. Louis, 2012)
    Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease associated with global amphibian population dec- lines. The causative agent, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is a chytrid fungus with a broad host range documented to infect the skin of over 300 different frog and salamander species to date (www.spatialepidemiology.net/bd-maps)....
  • A reservoir species for the emerging amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis thrives in a landscape decimated by disease.

    Reeder, N.M.M.; Pessier, Allan P.; Vredenburg, V.T. (2012)
    Chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is driving amphibian declines and extinctions in protected areas globally. The introduction of invasive reservoir species has been implicated in the spread of Bd but does not explain the appearance of the pathogen in remote protected areas. In the high elevation (>1500 m) Sierra Nevada of California, the native Pacific chorus frog, Pseudacris regilla, appears unaffected by chytridiomycosis while sympatric species experience catastrophic declines. We investigated whether P. regilla is a reservoir of Bd by comparing habitat occupancy before and after a major Bd outbreak and measuring infection in P. regilla in the field, monitoring susceptibility of P. regilla to Bd in the laboratory, examining tissues with histology to determine patterns of infection, and using an innovative soak technique to determine individual output of Bd zoospores in water. Pseudacris regilla persists at 100% of sites where a sympatric species has been extirpated from 72% in synchrony with a wave of Bd. In the laboratory, P. regilla carried loads of Bd as much as an order of magnitude higher than loads found lethal to sympatric species. Histology shows heavy Bd infection in patchy areas next to normal skin, a possible mechanism for tolerance. The soak technique was 77.8% effective at detecting Bd in water and showed an average output of 68 zoospores per minute per individual. The results of this study suggest P. regilla should act as a Bd reservoir and provide evidence of a tolerance mechanism in a reservoir species....
  • Clinical trials with itraconazole as a treatment for chytrid fungal infections in amphibians

    Brannelly, L.A.; Richards-Zawacki, C.L.; Pessier, Allan P. (2012)
    Due in large part to recent global declines and extinctions, amphibians are the most threatened vertebrate group. Captive assurance colonies may be the only lifeline for some rapidly disappearing species. Maintaining these colonies free of disease represents a challenge to effective amphibian conservation. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is one of the major contributors to global amphibian declines and also poses a serious threat to captive assurance colonies. Many treatment options for Bd infection have not been experimentally tested and the commonly administered dosages of some drugs are known to have negative side effects, highlighting a need for clinical trials. The objective of this study was to clinically test the drug itraconazole as a method for curing Bd infection. We bathed Bd-positive juveniles of 2 anuran amphibian species, Litoria caerulea and Incilius nebulifer, in aqueous itraconazole, varying the concentration and duration of treatment, to find the combination that caused the fewest side effects while also reliably ridding animals of Bd. Our results suggest that a bath in 0.0025% itraconazole for 5 min d?1 for 6 d reliably cures Bd infection and causes fewer side effects than the longer treatment times and higher concentrations of this drug that are commonly administered.
  • IOD in rhinos--epidemiology group report: report from the Epidemiology Working Group of the International Workshop on Iron Overload Disorder in Browsing Rhinoceros

    Dennis, Pam; Ellis, Susie; Mellen, Jill; Lee, Pauline; Olea-Popelka, Francisco; Petric, Ann; Ryder, Oliver A. (2012)
    The Epidemiology Working Group, a subgroup of the participants of the International Workshop on Iron Storage Disease (renamed iron overload disorder, IOD), identified several areas in which information is lacking regarding IOD in browser rhinoceros. One of the first steps necessary in understanding iron overload disorder (IOD) is to define the parameters by which to identify IOD....
  • A retrospective and prospective study of megaesophagus in the Parma wallaby (Macropus parma) at the San Diego Zoo, California, USA

    Burgdorf-Moisuk, Anne; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Smith, Joseph A.; Papendick, Rebecca; Ivy, Jamie A.; Hamlin-Andrus, Chris (2012)
    At the San Diego Zoo (California, USA), 22 cases of megaesophagus were diagnosed in the parma wallaby (Macropus parma); a prevalence of 21.1%. Parma wallabies often have no clinical signs until severe and chronic dilation of the esophagus is present....

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