• Fat-soluble vitamin and mineral comparisons between zoo-based and free-ranging koalas (phascolarctos cinereus)

      Schmidt, Debra A.; Pye, Geoffrey W.; Hamlin-Andrus, Chris C.; Ellis, William A.; Ellersieck, Mark R.; Chen, Tai C.; Holick, Michael F. (2013)
      As part of a health investigation on koalas at San Diego Zoo, serum samples were analyzed from 18 free-ranging and 22 zoo-based koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus. Serum concentrations of calcium, chloride, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and 25(OH)D3 were quantified....
    • Fear of failure in conservation: The problem and potential solutions to aid conservation of extremely small populations

      Meek, Mariah H.; Wells, Caitlin; Tomalty, Katharine M.; Ashander, Jaime; Cole, Esther M.; Gille, Daphne A.; Putman, Breanna J.; Rose, Jonathan P.; Savoca, Matthew S.; Yamane, Lauren; et al. (2015)
      …We describe methods for increased information sharing and improved decision-making in the face of uncertainty, and recommend a shift in focus to cooperative actions and improving methods for evaluating success. Our hope is that by tackling stumbling blocks due to the apprehension of failure, conservation and management organizations can take steps to move from fear to action.
    • Feather lead concentrations and 207Pb/20Ppb ratios reveal lead exposure history of California condors (Gymnogyps californianus)

      Finkelstein, M. E.; George, D.; Scherbinski, S.; Gwiazda, R.; Johnson, M.; Burnett, J.; Brandt, J.; Lawrey, S.; Pessier, Allan P.; Clark, M.; et al. (2010)
      Lead poisoning is a primary factor impeding the survival and recovery of the critically endangered California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus). However, the frequency and magnitude of lead exposure in condors is not well-known in part because most blood lead monitoring occurs biannually, and biannual blood samples capture only ?10% of a bird’s annual exposure history. We investigated the use of growing feathers from free-flying condors in California to establish a bird’s lead exposure history. We show that lead concentration and stable lead isotopic composition analyses of sequential feather sections and concurrently collected blood samples provided a comprehensive history of lead exposure over the 2?4 month period of feather growth. Feather analyses identified exposure events not evident from blood monitoring efforts, and by fitting an empirically derived timeline to actively growing feathers, we were able to estimate the time frame for specific lead exposure events. Our results demonstrate the utility of using sequentially sampled feathers to reconstruct lead exposure history. Since exposure risk in individuals is one determinant of population health, our findings should increase the understanding of population-level effects from lead poisoning in condors; this information may also be helpful for other avian species potentially impacted by lead poisoning.
    • Fecal viral diversity of captive and wild Tasmanian devils characterized using virion-enriched metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics

      Chong, Rowena; Shi, Mang; Grueber, Catherine E.; Holmes, Edward C.; Hogg, Carolyn J.; Belov, Katherine; Barrs, Vanessa R. (2019)
      The Tasmanian devil is an endangered carnivorous marsupial threatened by devil facial tumour disease (DFTD). While research on DFTD has been extensive, little is known about viruses in devils, and whether any are of potential conservation relevance for this endangered species. Using both metagenomics based on virion enrichment and sequence-independent amplification (virion-enriched metagenomics) and meta-transcriptomics based on bulk RNA sequencing, we characterized and compared the fecal viromes of captive and wild devils. A total of 54 fecal samples collected from 2 captive and 4 wild populations were processed for virome characterization using both approaches. In total, 24 novel marsupial-related viruses, comprising a sapelovirus, astroviruses, rotaviruses, picobirnaviruses, parvoviruses, papillomaviruses, polyomaviruses and a gammaherpesvirus were identified, as well as known mammalian pathogens such as rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus 2. Captive devils showed significantly lower viral diversity than wild devils. Comparison of the two virus discovery approaches revealed substantial differences in the number and types of viruses detected, with meta-transcriptomics better suited for RNA viruses and virion-enriched metagenomics largely identifying more DNA viruses. Thus, the viral communities revealed by virion-enriched metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics were not interchangeable and neither approach was able to detect all viruses present. An integrated approach using both virion-enriched metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics constitutes a powerful tool for obtaining a complete overview of both the taxonomic and functional profiles of viral communities within a sample. Importance: The Tasmanian devil is an iconic Australian marsupial that has suffered an 80% population decline due to a contagious cancer, devil facial tumour disease, along with other threats. Until now, viral discovery in this species has been confined to one gammaherpesvirus (DaHV-2), for which captivity was identified as a significant risk factor. Our discovery of 24 novel marsupial-associated RNA and DNA viruses, and that viral diversity is lower in captive than wild devils, has greatly expanded our knowledge of gut-associated viruses in devils and provides important baseline information that will contribute to the conservation and captive management of this endangered species. Our results also revealed that a combination of virion-enriched metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics may be a more comprehensive approach for virome characterization than either method alone. Our results thus provide a springboard for continuous improvements in the way we study complex viral communities.
    • Female giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) chirps advertise the caller's fertile phase

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Keating, J. L.; Rengui, L.; Huang, Y.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; (2010)
      Although female mammal vocal behaviour is known to advertise fertility, to date, no non-human mammal study has shown that the acoustic structure of female calls varies significantly around their fertile period. Here, we used a combination of hormone measurements and acoustic analyses to determine whether female giant panda chirps have the potential to signal the caller's precise oestrous stage (fertile versus pre-fertile)….
    • Field genebanks or inter situ collection

      Maschinski, Joyce; Westwood, Murphy; Havens, Kayri; Hoban, Sean; Anderson, Stacy; Walsh, Seana; Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) (Center for Plant ConservationEscondido, California, 2019)
      Maintaining small populations of plants in protected places may be a necessary conservation strategy for some species; these are known as field genebanks. At botanical gardens, these are often part of living display collections....
    • First evidence for crossbreeding between invasive Iguana iguana and the native rock iguana (Genus Cyclura) on Little Cayman Island

      Moss, Jeanette B.; Welch, Mark E.; Burton, Frederic J.; Vallee, Michael V.; Houlcroft, Edward W.; Laaser, Tanja; Gerber, Glenn P. (2017)
      Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are invasive throughout the West Indies and co-occur on several islands with native rock iguanas (Genus Cyclura). In August 2016, three hybrid hatchlings were captured on Little Cayman Island, providing the first evidence for a successful crossbreeding event between I. iguana and any Cyclura rock iguana species in the wild.....
    • First evidence of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and ranavirus in Hong Kong amphibian trade

      Kolby, Jonathan E.; Smith, Kristine M.; Berger, Lee; Karesh, William B.; Preston, Asa; Pessier, Allan P.; Skerratt, Lee F. (2014)
      The emerging infectious amphibian diseases caused by amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd) and ranaviruses are responsible for global amphibian population declines and extinctions. Although likely to have been spread by a variety of activities, transcontinental dispersal appears closely associated with the international trade in live amphibians. The territory of Hong Kong reports frequent, high volume trade in amphibians, and yet the presence of Bd and ranavirus have not previously been detected in either traded or free-ranging amphibians. In 2012, a prospective surveillance project was conducted to investigate the presence of these pathogens in commercial shipments of live amphibians exported from Hong Kong International Airport. Analysis of skin (Bd) and cloacal (ranavirus) swabs by quantitative PCR detected pathogen presence in 31/265 (11.7%) and in 105/185 (56.8%) of amphibians, respectively. In addition, the water in which animals were transported tested positive for Bd, demonstrating the risk of pathogen pollution by the disposal of untreated wastewater. It is uncertain whether Bd and ranavirus remain contained within Hong Kong’s trade sector, or if native amphibians have already been exposed. Rapid response efforts are now urgently needed to determine current pathogen distribution in Hong Kong, evaluate potential trade-associated exposure to free-ranging amphibians, and identify opportunities to prevent disease establishment.
    • First video footage of the elusive Ebo gorillas in Cameroon

      Mfossa, D.; Ndimbe, M.; Abwe, Ekwoge E.; Morgan, Bethan J. (2019)
    • Fish hatchery genetic management techniques: Integrating theory with implementation

      Fisch, Kathleen M.; Kozfkay, Christine C.; Ivy, Jamie A.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Waples, Robin S. (2015)
      ...This article reviews the application of small‐population management techniques to conservation hatcheries in an effort to increase their utility in recovery plans for endangered fish species.
    • Fitness costs associated with ancestry to isolated populations of an endangered species

      Wilder, Aryn P.; Navarro, Asako Y.; King, Shauna N. D.; Miller, William B.; Thomas, Steven M.; Steiner, Cynthia C.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Shier, Debra M. (2020)
      ... The endangered Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) persists in three isolated populations in southern California. Mitochondrial and microsatellite data indicated that effective population sizes were extremely small (Ne< 50), and continued declines prompted a conservation breeding program founded by individuals from each population....
    • Fitness costs of neighborhood disruption in translocations of a solitary mammal

      Shier, Debra M.; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2011)
      We translocated Stephens’ kangaroo rats (Dipodomys stephensi), a solitary species listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, with and without neighboring kangaroo rats.… This study is the first empirical demonstration of the fitness consequences of disrupting social relationships among territorial neighbors.
    • Flea diversity on small carnivores in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa

      Matthee, S.; van der Mescht, L.; Wilson, B.; Lamberski, Nadine (2011)
      ...Of the five flea species that were recorded the most numerous and prevalent was Echidnophaga gallinacea followed by Ctenocephalides connatus and Ctenocephalides damarensis. Fleas were more numerous and prevalent on the small-spotted cat, Felis nigripes, followed by the yellow mongoose, Cynictispenicillata.....
    • Foraging behavior, contaminant exposure risk, and the stress response in wild California condors (Gymnogyps californianus)

      Glucs, Zeka E.; Smith, Donald R.; Tubbs, Christopher W.; Bakker, Victoria J.; Wolstenholme, Rachel; Dudus, Kristina; Burnett, Joseph; Clark, Melissa; Clark, Michael; Finkelstein, Myra E. (2020)
      Wild California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) are frequently exposed to lead via lead-based ammunition ingestion, and recent studies indicate significant exposure to organochlorines (e.g. dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)) for condors feeding on beach-cast marine mammals. We investigated the influence of contaminant exposure on condor glucocorticoid response through comparisons between wild and captive populations and identified modifiers of glucocorticoid release….
    • Foraging ecologies of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and camels (Camelus dromedarius) in northern Kenya: effects of habitat structure and possibilities for competition?

      O'Connor, David; Butt, Bilal; Foufopoulos, Johannes B. (2015)
      …The foraging ecologies of reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) and domestic camels (Camelus dromedarius) were examined in the Laikipia District of Kenya, where these species have recently become sympatric…. These findings have important implications in achieving the twin objectives of wildlife conservation and pastoralist livestock production in northern Kenya.
    • Forward

      Alberts, Allison C.; Iverson, John B.; Grant, Tandora D.; Knapp, Charles R.; Pasachnik, Stesha A. (2016)
      This compilation represents the third time that iguana researchers from around the world have collaborated to publish a diversity of papers on the behavior, ecology, evolution, and conservation of this unique taxonomic group....
    • Fostering "Little Green Guards" through a collaborative partnership to create an effective conservation education program in Guizhou, China

      Tan, Chia L.; Yang, Y.; Niu, K.; Shi, L.; Zhang, W.; Riondato, I.; Giacoma, C.; Balleto, E.; Gamba, M.; Phillips, J.A. (Turin, 2014)
      San Diego Zoo Global (USA), Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration (China), and the University of Torino (Italy) have partnered in a collaborative effort to promote environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation in Guizhou, China. The objectives of the partnership are twofold: (i) train researchers and wildlife professionals using a multidisciplinary program that employs the latest methods and tools in order to deepen their understanding of wildlife and the environment, and (ii) foster positive attitudes and behaviour toward wildlife in rural children through a creative education program called the Little Green Guards.…
    • Fostering “Little Green Guards ” through a collaborative partnership to create an effective conservation education program for rural children in Guizhou, China

      Tan, Chia L.; Yang, Y.; Niu, Kefeng; Lei, Shi; Weiyong, Zhang; Riondato, Isidoro; Giacoma, Cristina; Balletto, Emilio; Gamba, Marco; John, A. Phillips (2013)
      San Diego Zoo Global (USA), Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration (China), and the University of Torino (Italy) have partnered in a collaborative effort to promote environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation in Guizhou, China. The objectives of the partnership are twofold: (i) train researchers and wildlife professionals using a multidisciplinary program that employs the latest methods and tools in order to deepen their understanding of wildlife and the environment, and (ii) foster positive attitudes and behaviour toward wildlife in rural children through a creative education program called the Little Green Guards. A recent development of the education program is the Little Green Guards Club for children whose houses border nature reserves. During club meetings, staff of the three cooperating institutions and volunteers participated in teaching English and natural history lessons. Club activities included animal themed art projects, games, movies, and field trips designed to cultivate empathy for animals and appreciation for nature in these children. Evaluations conducted before and after implementation of the education program showed a significant increase in children’s knowledge of and affection for wildlife, and sometimes coincided with positive behavioural changes toward native species. Here we feature our collaborative effort in China as a model which can be adopted in other geographic regions where species and habitat conservation must become a top priority. We will discuss the role of Universities in critical assessment of previous experiences in order to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation with other development stakeholders (e.g. governmental and local authorities, civil society and NGOs, foundations and private companies, and local associations).
    • Free mate choice enhances conservation breeding in the endangered giant panda

      Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Shepherdson, David; Zhang, Guiquan; Zhang, Hemin; Li, Desheng; Zhou, Xiaoping; Li, Rengui; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2015)
      Conservation breeding programmes have become an increasingly important tool to save endangered species, yet despite the allocation of significant resources, efforts to create self-sustaining populations have met with limited success. The iconic giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) embodies the struggles associated with ex situ species conservation. Here we show that behavioural mate preferences in giant pandas predict reproductive outcomes. Giant pandas paired with preferred partners have significantly higher copulation and birth rates. Reproductive rates increase further when both partners show mutual preference for one another. If managers were to incorporate mate preferences more fully into breeding management, the production of giant panda offspring for China’s reintroduction programme might be greatly expedited. When extended to the increasing numbers of species dependent on ex situ conservation breeding to avoid extinction, our findings highlight that mate preference and other aspects of informed behavioural management could make the difference between success and failure of these programmes.