• Amblyrhynchus cristatus ssp. wikelskii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

      MacLeod, A.; Nelson, K.; Grant, Tandora D. (2020)
      The Santiago Marine Iguana is found on the islands of Santiago, Bartolomé, Pinzón, Rábida, and very likely nearby islets in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. The estimated extent of occurrence is 1,164 km2 by minimum convex polygon and the area of occupancy is estimated at 444 km2 . The population size is poorly known and estimated at 450–4,000 total iguanas, with fewer than 2,400 mature individuals. Genetic data indicate a critically low effective population size. Overall population trend is unknown, but is subject to extreme reductions and fluctuations during El Niño events, which are predicted to intensify in the future with ongoing climate change. Invasive Black Rats threaten this iguana more severely when compared to other subspecies, as the islands in its distribution have scarce food resources for rats. Santiago Marine Iguanas are threatened by a region-wide increase in human population and visitation that has multiplied the impacts from stress, marine pollution, habitat degradation, and chance of invasive species introductions and emergent diseases. Land-based tourist presence and intensity has been shown to have a significant overall negative effect on iguana health....
    • An experimental investigation of chemical communication in the polar bear

      Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Slocomb, C.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Durner, G. M.; Simac, Kristin S.; Pessier, Allan P. (2015)
      The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), with its wide-ranging movements, solitary existence and seasonal reproduction, is expected to favor chemosignaling over other communication modalities….These results suggest that pedal scent, regardless of origin, conveys information to conspecifics that may facilitate social and reproductive behavior, and that chemical communication in this species has been adaptively shaped by environmental constraints of its habitat. However, continuously distributed scent signals necessary for breeding behavior may prove less effective if current and future environmental conditions cause disruption of scent trails due to increased fracturing of sea ice.
    • Analyzing the past to understand the future: Natural mating yields better reproductive rates than artificial insemination in the giant panda

      Li, Disheng; Wintle, Nathan J. P.; Zhang, Guiquan; Wang, Chengdong; Luo, Bo; Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2017)
      ...Here we analyze 21 years (1996–2016) of giant panda reproductive data from 304 insemination events to determine relative success rates of insemination methods and evaluate management strategies. The birth rate after natural mating was 60.7%, 50.6% for combined natural mating and artificial insemination techniques, and 18.5% for artificial insemination (AI)....
    • Androgen and glucocorticoid production in the male killer whale (Orcinus orca): influence of age, maturity, and environmental factors

      O'Brien J. K.; Steinman K. J.; Fetter, G. Alan; Robeck T. R. (2016)
      Circulating concentrations of testosterone and its precursor androstenedione, as well as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA ) and the adrenal hormones cortisol and corticosterone were measured at monthly intervals in 14 male killer whales (Orcinus orca ) aged 0.8–38 years. Analyses were performed for examination of the relationships of age, sexual maturation status (STATUS ), season, and environmental temperature (monthly air ambient temperature, A‐TEMP ) with hormone production using a mixed effects linear regression model with animal ID as the random variable....
    • Andros iguana: Conservation action plan, 2005-2011

      Knapp, Charles; Pagni, Lee (IUCN/SSC Iguana Specialist GroupGland, Switzerland, 2011)
      The endangered Andros iguana, Cyclura cychlura cychlura, is the largest native terrestrial vertebrate, and the only iguana (of 3 species) in the Bahamas that is not confined presently to small cays. The Andros iguana is unique to Andros Island and despite the recent formation of a national park on North Andros Island in 2002, the population is declining. This document presents a comprehensive plan for conservation measures considered essential to the long-term survival of this flagship species in the wild. It combines the knowledge and expertise of highly qualified experts from government and non-government organizations within The Bahamas with the collective conservation experience and scientific expertise of the IUCN/SSC Iguana Specialist Group.
    • Animal cytogenetics

      Houck, Marlys L.; Lear, Teri L.; Charter, Suellen J.; Arsham, Marilyn S.; Barch, Margaret J.; Lawce, Helen J. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2017)
      Chromosome karyotyping and gene mapping has been carried out for a wide variety of animal species and continues to expand. Cross-species chromosome painting, or Zoo-FISH, for example, can now be used to identify genome segments originating from a common ancestor that have been conserved between species for millions of years....
    • Animal Welfare in Conservation Breeding: Applications and Challenges

      Greggor, Alison L.; Vicino, Greg A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Fidgett, Andrea; Brenner, Deena J.; Kinney, Matthew E.; Farabaugh, Susan M.; Masuda, Bryce M.; Lamberski, Nadine (2018)
      Animal welfare and conservation breeding have overlapping and compatible goals that are occasionally divergent. Efforts to improve enclosures, provide enriching experiences, and address behavioral and physical needs further the causes of animal welfare in all zoo settings. However, by mitigating stress, increasing behavioral competence, and enhancing reproduction, health, and survival, conservation breeding programs must also focus on preparing animals for release into the wild. Therefore conservation breeding facilities must strike a balance of promoting high welfare, while minimizing the effects of captivity to increase population sustainability. As part of the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global operates two captive breeding facilities that house a number of endangered Hawaiian bird species. At our facilities we aim to increase captive animal welfare through husbandry, nutrition, behavior-based enrichment, and integrated veterinary practices. These efforts help foster a captive environment that promotes the development of species-typical behaviors. By using the “Opportunities to Thrive” guiding principles, we outline an outcome-based welfare strategy, and detail some of the related management inputs, such as transitioning to parental rearing, and conducting veterinary exams remotely. Throughout we highlight our evidence-based approach for evaluating our practices, by monitoring welfare and the effectiveness of our inputs. Additionally we focus on some of the unique challenges associated with improving welfare in conservation breeding facilitates and outline concrete future steps for improving and evaluating welfare outcomes that also meet conservation goals.
    • Assessing the effectiveness of China’s panda protection system

      Wei, Wei; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Pilfold, Nicholas W.; Owen, Megan A.; Dai, Qiang; Wei, Fuwen; Han, Han; Yang, Zhisong; Yang, Xuyu; Gu, Xiaodong; et al. (2020)
      ...Together these findings indicate that China’s panda reserves have been effective and that they are functioning better over time, conserving more and better habitats and containing more pandas. While China’s protected area system still has much room for improvement [4, 5], including to support pandas [16], these findings underscore the progress made in China’s nascent environmental movement.
    • Assessment of mammal reproduction for hunting sustainability through community-based sampling of species in the wild

      Mayor, Pedro; El Bizri Hani; Bodmer Richard E.; Bowler, Mark (2017)
      ...researchers face severe difficulties in obtaining reproductive data in the wild, so these assessments often rely on classic reproductive rates calculated mostly from studies of captive animals conducted 30 years ago. The result is a flaw in almost 50% of studies, which hampers management decision making....
    • Assisted reproductive technologies in captive rhinoceroses

      Pennington, Parker M.; Durrant, Barbara S. (2019)
      Survival of the five remaining rhinoceros species is threatened. Four of the five species are in managed collections, but captive populations are not self-sustaining and low reproductive rates make population growth slow. Slow population growth, coupled with behavioural incompatibilities, acyclicity, low genetic diversity, and disease susceptibility, creates the need for assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) to maintain genetic diversity while bolstering population numbers. Both published and unpublished data are included in this review of ARTs, to facilitate understanding consistencies and variations between and within each rhinoceros species. Progress has been made to address species-specific characteristics of reproductive physiology in rhinoceroses. This review outlines the ARTs that have been performed and identifies areas in need of research. In vivo technologies have resulted in live calves by artificial insemination, created genetic reservoirs through semen collection, and provided new avenues of gamete retrieval via ovum pickup. In vitro technologies have enabled genetic rescue post mortem and support early stage embryo production through oocyte maturation and fertilisation. As conservation efforts focus on rhinoceroses, improvement of existing techniques and development of new technologies will allow for a broader application of successful rhinoceros ARTs.
    • Benefits of overwintering in the conservation breeding and translocation of a critically endangered amphibian

      Calatayud, Natalie E.; Hammond, Talisin T.; Gardner, Nicole R.; Curtis, Michelle J.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Shier, Debra M. (2020)
      At high altitudes, amphibians brumate (over winter) during the winter months, an adaptation that provides protection from harsh weather and minimizes metabolic demand when food resources are scarce. However, brumation in ex situ populations is often avoided due to concerns regarding slow growth rates, compromised immunity, and increased morbidity, and to accelerate growth and sexual maturation. Running counter to these ideas is the hypothesis that husbandry that mimics the environmental conditions under which a species evolved may benefit animal health and reproduction. This may be particularly critical for animals slated for release into the wild. Here, we evaluated the effects of brumation on juvenile southern mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) in a conservation breeding and release program. Growth measurements, (weight and snout-urostyle length [SUL]), were examined in three experimental groups: Nonbrumated, 1 or 3-month brumation. Postrelease survival was also analyzed and compared between nonbrumated and 3-month brumated frogs. This study indicates that brumated R. muscosa juveniles grow to sizes and weights similar to controls within 3 to 4 months following brumation. Mark-recapture models suggested that short-term postrelease survival was not lower and in fact, may be higher in brumated compared to nonbrumated frogs. Results of this study indicate that although brumation entails short-term costs to growth, this species possesses compensatory growth mechanisms following brumation which allow them to attain similar body size to nonbrumated conspecifics in time for the next winter and that for frogs destined for translocation to the wild, brumation could improve survival outcomes.
    • Betsileo woolly lemur (Avahi betsileo). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

      Eppley, Timothy M.; Patel, E. (2020)
      The extent of occurrence of this species covers less than 1,470 km2. This geographic range is severely fragmented and undergoing continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat. Based on these premises, the species is listed as Endangered.
    • Biosphere reserve to transshipment Port: Travesty for Jamaica's Goat Islands.

      Grant, Tandora D. (2014)
      You know what is a huge bummer? Being a part of an amazing conservation success story to recover a species, only to reach the point where all those efforts appear lost. I know I’m not the only conservationist who has fought similar battles — many losing, but occasionally winning. I still have hope that reason will prevail and my colleagues and I can make further progress toward true recovery and the long-term goals of sustainability. The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is a really big lizard that was thought to have been extinct for 40-something years when a small number of individuals were found in the rugged limestone interior of the Hellshire Hills on the southern coast of Jamaica…
    • Black lemur (Eulemur macaco). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

      Andriantsimanarilafy, R.R; Borgerson, C.; Clarke, T; Colquhoun, I.C; Cotton, A; Donati, G; Eppley, Timothy M.; Heriniaina, R; Irwin, M; Johnson, S; et al. (2020)
      The range of the species is severely fragmented and remaining areas of forest are under anthropogenic pressure (Mittermeier et al. 2010, Tinsman et al. 2019). Given this, and that the overall population size is suspected to be in decline at a rate of >50% over three generations, the current assessment lists Eulemur macaco as Endangered.
    • Body size, demography, and body condition in Utila spiny-tailed iguanas, Ctenosaura bakeri

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Montgomery, Chad E; Martinez, Andrea; Belal, Nardiah; Clayson, Steve; Faulkner, Shane (2012)
      Utila Spiny-tailed Iguanas, Ctenosaura bakeri, are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Redlist Assessment and are listed under Appendix II of CITES. This species occupies a portion of Utila, a small continental island located off the northern coast of Honduras, in the Bay Islands chain. Habitat destruction and overharvesting for consumption and the pet trade are among the top threats facing this species. Though first described in 1901 (Stejneger) and currently the focus of a local conservation program, little is known concerning that basic biology of this species. Combining data from six years we examined body size, sexual size dimorphism, and changes in demography and body condition over the study period. Our results indicate that males are larger and heavier than females on average, and have a longer tail for a given snout-vent length, as is the case with most iguanas. Over the study period we found an increase in the ratio of males to females, suggesting that female biased hunting pressure is increasing. This is consistent with an increase in the human population size and a preference for consuming gravid females. The body condition of both males and females declined over the duration of the study, which is suggestive of a decrease in habitat quality. These results indicate that the situation for this endangered species is becoming increasingly threatening. Conservation measures should focus on alleviating these threats through increased law enforcement, outreach, and education.
    • Brachylophus gau. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

      Fisher, R.; Hathaway, S.; Gray, K.; Grant, Tandora D. (2020)
      Gau Banded Iguanas are known to occur only on Gau Island, Fiji, and have an estimated extent of occurrence and area of occupancy of 220 km2 . Over 50% of the natural habitat of Gau has been degraded or converted due to illegal forest burning practices and free-roaming domestic goat competitors. The iguana population is suspected to have declined correspondingly during the last 30–45 years (three generations). There is continuing predation pressure on iguanas from invasive alien rats, feral cats, and free-roaming domestic pigs. Without conservation intervention, habitat degradation observed during the last 20 years is projected to cause a further 10–20% decline over the next 10–15 years.
    • Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink—The Six Percent Solution

      Walston, Joe; Robinson, John G.; Bennett, Elizabeth L.; Breitenmoser, Urs; Fonseca, Gustavo A. B. da; Goodrich, John; Gumal, Melvin; Hunter, Luke; Johnson, Arlyne; Karanth, K. Ullas; et al. (2010)
      ...Wild tiger numbers are at an historic low. There is no evidence of breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and DPR Korea. Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers [1]–[3], which has continued unabated over the last two decades. While the scale of the challenge is enormous, we submit that the complexity of effective implementation is not: commitments should shift to focus on protecting tigers at spatially well-defined priority sites, supported by proven best practices of law enforcement, wildlife management, and scientific monitoring. Conflict with local people needs to be mitigated. We argue that such a shift in emphasis would reverse the decline of wild tigers and do so in a rapid and cost-efficient manner....
    • Broad host range of SARS-CoV-2 predicted by comparative and structural analysis of ACE2 in vertebrates

      Damas, Joana; Hughes, Graham M.; Keough, Kathleen C.; Painter, Corrie A.; Persky, Nicole S.; Corbo, Marco; Hiller, Michael; Koepfli, Klaus-Peter; Pfenning, Andreas R.; Zhao, Huabin; et al. (2020)
      The novel coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of COVID-19. The main receptor of SARS-CoV-2, angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), is now undergoing extensive scrutiny to understand the routes of transmission and sensitivity in different species. Here, we utilized a unique dataset of ACE2 sequences from 410 vertebrate species, including 252 mammals, to study the conservation of ACE2 and its potential to be used as a receptor by SARS-CoV-2. We designed a five-category binding score based on the conservation properties of 25 amino acids important for the binding between ACE2 and the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Only mammals fell into the medium to very high categories and only catarrhine primates into the very high category, suggesting that they are at high risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection. We employed a protein structural analysis to qualitatively assess whether amino acid changes at variable residues would be likely to disrupt ACE2/SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binding and found the number of predicted unfavorable changes significantly correlated with the binding score. Extending this analysis to human population data, we found only rare (frequency <0.001) variants in 10/25 binding sites. In addition, we found significant signals of selection and accelerated evolution in the ACE2 coding sequence across all mammals, and specific to the bat lineage. Our results, if confirmed by additional experimental data, may lead to the identification of intermediate host species for SARS-CoV-2, guide the selection of animal models of COVID-19, and assist the conservation of animals both in native habitats and in human care.
    • California condor North American studbook (Gymnogyps californianus)

      Mace, Michael E.; (Zoological Society of San DiegoEscondido, CA, 2010)
    • California condor recovery: a work in progress

      Wallace, Michael P.; Lamont, Miles M. (Hancock House PublishersToronto, Ontario, Canada. Surrey, BC, Canada., 2014)