• Data gaps and opportunities for comparative and conservation biology

      Conde, Dalia A.; Staerk, Johanna; Colchero, Fernando; da Silva, Rita; Schöley, Jonas; Baden, H. Maria; Jouvet, Lionel; Fa, John E.; Syed, Hassan; Jongejans, Eelke; et al. (2019)
      Biodiversity loss is a major challenge. Over the past century, the average rate of vertebrate extinction has been about 100-fold higher than the estimated background rate and population declines continue to increase globally. Birth and death rates determine the pace of population increase or decline, thus driving the expansion or extinction of a species. Design of species conservation policies hence depends on demographic data (e.g., for extinction risk assessments or estimation of harvesting quotas). However, an overview of the accessible data, even for better known taxa, is lacking. Here, we present the Demographic Species Knowledge Index, which classifies the available information for 32,144 (97%) of extant described mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. We show that only 1.3% of the tetrapod species have comprehensive information on birth and death rates. We found no demographic measures, not even crude ones such as maximum life span or typical litter/clutch size, for 65% of threatened tetrapods. More field studies are needed; however, some progress can be made by digitalizing existing knowledge, by imputing data from related species with similar life histories, and by using information from captive populations. We show that data from zoos and aquariums in the Species360 network can significantly improve knowledge for an almost eightfold gain. Assessing the landscape of limited demographic knowledge is essential to prioritize ways to fill data gaps. Such information is urgently needed to implement management strategies to conserve at-risk taxa and to discover new unifying concepts and evolutionary relationships across thousands of tetrapod species.
    • Data on spatio-temporal patterns of wild fruit harvest from the economically important palm Mauritia flexuosa in the Peruvian Amazon

      Endress, Bryan A.; Gilmore, Michael P.; Vargas Paredes, Victor H.; Horn, Christa M. (2018)
      These data are the foundation of the analyses and results published in the article “Spatio-temporal patterns of Mauritia flexuosa fruit extraction in the Peruvian Amazon: Implications for conservation and sustainability” (Horn et al., 2018) [1]. Here we include data on the volume of M. flexuosa fruit arriving in the city of Iquitos, Peru from the surrounding region. This includes the amount of fruit (in sacks and kg), the date of entry into Iquitos, the point of embarkation (watershed and coordinates), the method of transportation and the point of entry into Iquitos. Data is provided in a number of formats, including data tables, Google Earth KML files and summary tables by watershed and/or month.
    • 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.
    • Demographic effects of legal timber harvesting on Guaiacum sanctum L., an endangered neotropical tree: implications for conservation

      López-Toledo, Leonel; Murillo-García, A.; Martínez-Ramos, M.; Pérez-Salicrup, D. (2011)
      Guaiacum sanctum is a timber tree species from the Americas, considered threatened in eleven different countries, including Mexico, and listed in CITES Appendix II. This species is currently harvested legally in the southern Mexican state of Campeche. Despite its protected status, the current condition of its populations and the effects of harvesting upon them have not been assessed. The conservation status of four unlogged populations were evaluated across Central Campeche by documenting their densities and demographic structures, and then compared the size class demographic structures of one unlogged and three logged populations at different times after harvest (3, 8 and 20 years) to evaluate the effects of timber harvesting upon population structure. Additionally, a regeneration index (proportion of seedlings within the population) was estimated for each of the seven populations. Densities of G. sanctum varied from 278 to 1732 stems/ha with ≥1cm at 1.3m·height in Campeche. Differences were found in the population structures of unlogged populations, although the density of seedlings and trees was high in all of the sites. Contrary to expectations, higher densities were found in all size classes in logged populations. Results suggest that current logging practices do not have a drastic negative effect on the density of remaining individuals. Although the results indicate that G. sanctum in Campeche is not locally endangered, it is recommend that it be maintained in CITES Appendix II.
    • Demographic, environmental and genetic determinants of mating success in captive koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

      Abts, Kendra C.; Ivy, Jamie A.; DeWoody, J. Andrew (2018)
      Many factors have been shown to affect mating behavior. For instance, genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are known to influence mate choice in a wide variety of vertebrate species....
    • Demography of the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) in Manu National Park, South-Eastern Peru: Implications for conservation

      Groenendijk, Jessica; Hajek, Frank; Johnson, Paul J.; Macdonald, David W.; Calvimontes, Jorge; Staib, Elke; Schenck, Christof (2014)
      The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is an endangered semi-aquatic carnivore of South America. We present findings on the demography of a population inhabiting the floodplain of Manu National Park, south-eastern Peru, arising from 14 annual dry season censuses over a 16 year period. The breeding system of territorial groups, including only a single breeding female with non-reproductive adult ‘helpers’, resulted in a low intrinsic rate of increase (0.03) and a slow recovery from decades of hunting for the pelt trade. This is explained by a combination of factors: (1) physiological traits such as late age at first reproduction and long generation time, (2) a high degree of reproductive skew, (3) small litters produced only once a year, and (4) a 50% mortality between den emergence and age of dispersal, as well as high mortality amongst dispersers (especially males). Female and male giant otters show similar traits with respect to average reproductive life-spans (female 5.4 yrs., male 5.2 yrs.) and average cub productivity (female 6.9, male 6.7 cubs per lifetime); the longest reproductive life spans were 11 and 13 years respectively. Individual reproductive success varied substantially and depended mainly on the duration of dominance tenure in the territory. When breeding females died, the reproductive position in the group was usually occupied by sisters or daughters (n = 11), with immigrant male partners. Male philopatry was not observed. The vulnerability of the Manu giant otter population to anthropogenic disturbance emphasises the importance of effective protection of core lake habitats in particular. Riverine forests are the most endangered ecosystem in the Department of Madre de Dios due to the concentration of gold mining, logging and agricultural activities in floodplains, highlighting the need for a giant otter habitat conservation corridor along the Madre de Dios River.
    • Density trends and demographic signals uncover the long-term impact of transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils

      Lazenby, Billie T.; Tobler, Mathias W.; Brown, William E.; Hawkins, Clare E.; Hocking, Greg J.; Hume, Fiona; Huxtable, Stewart J.; Iles, Philip; Jones, Menna E.; Lawrence, Clare; et al. (2018)
      Monitoring the response of wild mammal populations to threatening processes is fundamental to effective conservation management. This is especially true for infectious diseases, which may have dynamic and therefore unpredictable interactions with their host....
    • 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.
    • Derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells from orangutan skin fibroblasts

      Ramaswamy, Krishna; Yik, Wing Yan; Wang, Xiao-Ming; Oliphant, Erin N.; Lu, Wange; Shibata, Darryl; Ryder, Oliver A.; Hacia, Joseph G. (2015)
      Background Orangutans are an endangered species whose natural habitats are restricted to the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Along with the African great apes, orangutans are among the closest living relatives to humans. For potential species conservation and functional genomics studies, we derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from cryopreserved somatic cells obtained from captive orangutans. Results Primary skin fibroblasts from two Sumatran orangutans were transduced with retroviral vectors expressing the human OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC factors. Candidate orangutan iPSCs were characterized by global gene expression and DNA copy number analysis. All were consistent with pluripotency and provided no evidence of large genomic insertions or deletions. In addition, orangutan iPSCs were capable of producing cells derived from all three germ layers in vitro through embryoid body differentiation assays and in vivo through teratoma formation in immune-compromised mice. Conclusions We demonstrate that orangutan skin fibroblasts are capable of being reprogrammed into iPSCs with hallmark molecular signatures and differentiation potential. We suggest that reprogramming orangutan somatic cells in genome resource banks could provide new opportunities for advancing assisted reproductive technologies relevant for species conservation efforts. Furthermore, orangutan iPSCs could have applications for investigating the phenotypic relevance of genomic changes that occurred in the human, African great ape, and/or orangutan lineages. This provides opportunities for orangutan cell culture models that would otherwise be impossible to develop from living donors due to the invasive nature of the procedures required for obtaining primary cells.
    • Dermal hemangiosarcoma in a sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps)

      Rivas, Anne E.; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Papendick, Rebecca (2014)
      ….There are published reports of sugar gliders diagnosed with neoplasia, and oncology cases affecting this species are occasionally seen in clinical practice. Based on an extensive literature search, the authors believe this is the first report of a dermal hemangiosarcoma in a sugar glider.
    • Desert rarity, endemism and uniqueness

      Vanderplank, Sula E.; Ezcurra, Exequiel (Elsevier, 2019)
    • Detailed monitoring of a small but recovering population reveals sublethal effects of disease and unexpected interactions with supplemental feeding

      Tollington, S.; Greenwood, A.; Jones, C.G.; Hoeck, Paquita; Chowrimootoo, A.; Smith, D.; Richards, H.; Tatayah, V.; Groombridge, J.J. (2015)
      Infectious diseases are widely recognized to have substantial impact on wildlife populations. These impacts are sometimes exacerbated in small endangered populations, and therefore, the success of conservation reintroductions to aid the recovery of such species can be seriously threatened by outbreaks of infectious disease. Intensive management strategies associated with conservation reintroductions can further compound these negative effects in such populations. Exploring the sublethal effects of disease outbreaks among natural populations is challenging and requires longitudinal, individual life‐history data on patterns of reproductive success and other indicators of individual fitness. Long‐term monitoring data concerning detailed reproductive information of the reintroduced Mauritius parakeet (Psittacula echo ) population collected before, during and after a disease outbreak was investigated. Deleterious effects of an outbreak of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV ) were revealed on hatch success, but these effects were remarkably short‐lived and disproportionately associated with breeding pairs which took supplemental food. Individual BFDV infection status was not predicted by any genetic, environmental or conservation management factors and was not associated with any of our measures of immune function, perhaps suggesting immunological impairment. Experimental immunostimulation using the PHA (phytohaemagglutinin assay) challenge technique did, however, provoke a significant cellular immune response. We illustrate the resilience of this bottlenecked and once critically endangered, island‐endemic species to an epidemic outbreak of BFDV and highlight the value of systematic monitoring in revealing inconspicuous but nonetheless substantial ecological interactions. Our study demonstrates that the emergence of such an infectious disease in a population ordinarily associated with increased susceptibility does not necessarily lead to deleterious impacts on population growth and that negative effects on reproductive fitness can be short‐lived.
    • Detection of neopterin in the urine of captive and wild platyrrhines

      Sacco, Alexandra J.; Mayhew, Jessica A.; Watsa, Mrinalini; Erkenswick, Gideon; Binder, April K. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020)
      Background: Non-invasive biomarkers can facilitate health assessments in wild primate populations by reducing the need for direct access to animals. Neopterin is a biomarker that is a product of the cell-mediated immune response, with high levels being indicative of poor survival expectations in some cases. The measurement of urinary neopterin concentration (UNC) has been validated as a method for monitoring cell-mediated immune system activation in multiple catarrhine species, but to date there is no study testing its utility in the urine of platyrrhine species. In this study, we collected urine samples across three platyrrhine families including small captive populations of Leontopithecus rosalia and Pithecia pithecia, and larger wild populations of Leontocebus weddelli, Saguinus imperator, Alouatta seniculus, and Plecturocebus toppini, to evaluate a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the measurement of urinary neopterin in platyrrhines. Results: Our results revealed measured UNC fell within the sensitivity range of the assay in all urine samples collected from captive and wild platyrrhine study species via commercial ELISA, and results from several dilutions met expectations. We found significant differences in the mean UNC across all study species. Most notably, we observed higher UNC in the wild population of L. weddelli which is known to have two filarial nematode infections compared to S. imperator, which only have one. Conclusion: Our study confirms that neopterin is measurable via commercial ELISA in urine collected from captive and wild individuals of six genera of platyrrhines across three different families. These findings promote the future utility of UNC as a promising biomarker for field primatologists conducting research in Latin America to non-invasively evaluate cell-mediated immune system activation from urine. Keywords: Neopterin, Health monitoring, Platyrrhines, Immune function, Biomarker
    • Detection of oocyte perivitelline membrane-bound sperm: A tool for avian collection management

      Croyle, Kaitlin E.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Jensen, Thomas (2015)
      The success and sustainability of an avian breeding programme depend on managing productive and unproductive pairs. Given that each breeding season can be of immeasurable importance, it is critical to resolve pair fertility issues quickly. Such problems are traditionally diagnosed through behavioural observations, egg lay history and hatch rates, with a decision to re-pair generally taking one or more breeding seasons. In pairs producing incubated eggs that show little or no signs of embryonic development, determining fertility is difficult. Incorporating a technique to assess sperm presence on the oocyte could, in conjunction with behaviour and other data, facilitate a more timely re-pair decision. Detection of perivitelline membrane-bound (PVMbound) sperm verifies successful copulation, sperm production and sperm functionality. Alternatively, a lack of detectable sperm, at least in freshly laid eggs, suggests no mating, lack of sperm production/function or sperm–oviduct incompatibility. This study demonstrated PVM-bound sperm detection by Hoechst staining in fresh to 24-day-incubated exotic eggs from 39 species representing 13 orders. However, a rapid and significant time-dependent loss of detectable PVM-bound sperm was observed following incubation of chicken eggs. The PCR detection of sperm in seven species, including two bacterially infected eggs, demonstrated that this method was not as reliable as visual detection using Hoechst staining. The absence of amplicons in visually positive PVMs was presumably due to large PVM size and low sperm count, resulting in DNA concentrations too low for standard PCR detection. In summary, this study demonstrated the feasibility and limitations of using PVM-bound sperm detection as a management tool for exotic avian species. We verified that sperm presence or absence on fluorescence microscopy can aid in the differentiation of fertile from infertile eggs to assist breeding managers in making prompt decisions for pair rearrangements. This protocol is currently used to manage several breeding pairs in San Diego Zoo global avian conservation programmes.
    • Devastating decline of forest elephants in Central Africa

      Maisels, F.; Strindberg, S.; Blake, S.; Wittemyer, G.; Hart, J.; Williamson, E. A.; Aba'a, R.; Abitsi, G.; Ambahe, R. D.; Amsini, F.; et al. (2013)
      African forest elephants-taxonomically and functionally unique-are being poached at accelerating rates, but we lack range-wide information on the repercussions. Analysis of the largest survey dataset ever assembled for forest elephants (80 foot-surveys; covering 13,000 km; 91,600 person-days of fieldwork) revealed that population size declined by ca. 62% between 2002-2011, and the taxon lost 30% of its geographical range. The population is now less than 10% of its potential size, occupying less than 25% of its potential range. High human population density, hunting intensity, absence of law enforcement, poor governance, and proximity to expanding infrastructure are the strongest predictors of decline. To save the remaining African forest elephants, illegal poaching for ivory and encroachment into core elephant habitat must be stopped. In addition, the international demand for ivory, which fuels illegal trade, must be dramatically reduced.
    • Developing effective tools for conservation behaviorists: Reply to Greggor et al.

      Schakner, Zachary A.; Petelle, Matthew B.; Berger-Tal, Oded; Owen, Megan A.; Blumstein, Daniel T. (2014)
      Many conservation and management problems can benefit from mechanistic insights into how animals respond to stimuli and learn about biologically important events . The growing attention toward using cognition to solve real world conservation/management issues is exciting and promising….
    • Development of a case definition for clinical feline herpesvirus infection in cheetahs (acinonyx jubatus) housed in zoos

      Witte, Carmel L.; Lamberski, Nadine; Rideout, Bruce; Fields, Victoria; Teare, Cyd Shields; Barrie, Michael; Haefele, Holly; Junge, Randall; Murray, Suzan; Hungerford, Laura L. (2013)
      The identification of feline herpesvirus (FHV) infected cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and characterization of shedding episodes is difficult due to nonspecific clinical signs and limitations of diagnostic tests. The goals of this study were to develop a case definition for clinical FHV and describe the distribution of signs. Medical records from six different zoologic institutions were reviewed to identify cheetahs with diagnostic test results confirming FHV….
    • Development of a SNP-based assay for measuring genetic diversity in the Tasmanian devil insurance population

      Wright, Belinda; Morris, Katrina; Grueber, Catherine E.; Willet, Cali E.; Gooley, Rebecca; Hogg, Carolyn J.; O’Meally, Denis; Hamede, Rodrigo; Jones, Menna; Wade, Claire; et al. (2015)
      The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) has undergone a recent, drastic population decline due to the highly contagious devil facial tumor disease. The tumor is one of only two naturally occurring transmissible cancers and is almost inevitably fatal. In 2006 a disease-free insurance population was established to ensure that the Tasmanian devil is protected from extinction. The insurance program is dependent upon preserving as much wild genetic diversity as possible to maximize the success of subsequent reintroductions to the wild. Accurate genotypic data is vital to the success of the program to ensure that loss of genetic diversity does not occur in captivity. Until recently, microsatellite markers have been used to study devil population genetics, however as genetic diversity is low in the devil and potentially decreasing in the captive population, a more sensitive genotyping assay is required.
    • Development of a sperm cryopreservation protocol for the Argentine black and white tegu (Tupinambis merianae)

      Young, Carly; Ravida, Nicole; Curtis, Michelle J.; Mazzotti, Frank; Durrant, Barbara S. (2017)
      Of the 934 lizard species evaluated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least one-third is threatened with extinction. However, there are no reports of semen cryopreservation efforts for lizards....