• Lessons from a retrospective analysis of a 5-yr period of preshipment testing at San Diego Zoo: a risk-based approach to preshipment testing may benefit animal welfare

      Marinkovich, Matt; Wallace, Chelsea; Morris, Pat J.; Rideout, Bruce; Pye, Geoffrey W. (2016)
      ...An alternative disease risk-based approach, based on a comprehensive surveillance program including necropsy and preventive medicine examination testing and data, has been in practice since 2006 between the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A retrospective analysis, evaluating comprehensive necropsy data and preshipment testing over a 5-yr study period, was performed to determine the viability of this model for use with sending animals to other institutions. Animals (607 birds, 704 reptiles and amphibians, and 341 mammals) were shipped to 116 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited and 29 non–AZA-accredited institutions....
    • Leukoencephalomyelopathy of mature captive cheetahs and other large felids: A novel neurodegenerative disease that came and went?

      Brower, A. I.; Munson, L.; Radcliffe, R. W.; Citino, S. B.; Lackey, L. B.; Van Winkle, T. J.; Stalis, Ilse H.; Terio, K. A.; Summers, B. A.; de Lahunta, A. (2014)
      A novel leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 73 mature male and female large captive felids between 1994 and 2005. While the majority of identified cases occurred in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), the disease was also found in members of 2 other subfamilies of Felidae: 1 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) and 2 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The median age at time of death was 12 years, and all but 1 cheetah were housed in the United States. Characteristic clinical history included progressive loss of vision leading to blindness, disorientation, and/or difficulty eating. Neurologic deficits progressed at a variable rate over days to years. Mild to severe bilateral degenerative lesions were present in the cerebral white matter and variably and to a lesser degree in the white matter of the brain stem and spinal cord. Astrocytosis and swelling of myelin sheaths progressed to total white matter degeneration and cavitation. Large, bizarre reactive astrocytes are a consistent histopathologic feature of this condition. The cause of the severe white matter degeneration in these captive felids remains unknown; the lesions were not typical of any known neurotoxicoses, direct effects of or reactions to infectious diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 70 cheetahs, 1 tiger, and 2 panthers over an 11-year period, and to our knowledge, cases have ceased without planned intervention. Given what is known about the epidemiology of the disease and morphology of the lesions, an environmental or husbandry-associated source of neurotoxicity is suspected., A novel leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 73 mature male and female large captive felids between 1994 and 2005. While the majority of identified cases occurred in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), the disease was also found in members of 2 other subfamilies of Felidae: 1 generic tiger (Panthera tigris) and 2 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi). The median age at time of death was 12 years, and all but 1 cheetah were housed in the United States. Characteristic clinical history included progressive loss of vision leading to blindness, disorientation, and/or difficulty eating. Neurologic deficits progressed at a variable rate over days to years. Mild to severe bilateral degenerative lesions were present in the cerebral white matter and variably and to a lesser degree in the white matter of the brain stem and spinal cord. Astrocytosis and swelling of myelin sheaths progressed to total white matter degeneration and cavitation. Large, bizarre reactive astrocytes are a consistent histopathologic feature of this condition. The cause of the severe white matter degeneration in these captive felids remains unknown; the lesions were not typical of any known neurotoxicoses, direct effects of or reactions to infectious diseases, or nutritional deficiencies. Leukoencephalomyelopathy was identified in 70 cheetahs, 1 tiger, and 2 panthers over an 11-year period, and to our knowledge, cases have ceased without planned intervention. Given what is known about the epidemiology of the disease and morphology of the lesions, an environmental or husbandry-associated source of neurotoxicity is suspected.
    • Lifetime cancer prevalence and life history traits in mammals

      Boddy, Amy M.; Abegglen, Lisa M.; Pessier, Allan P.; Schiffman, Joshua D.; Maley, Carlo C.; Witte, Carmel L. (2020)
      Background Cancer is a common diagnosis in many mammalian species, yet they vary in their vulnerability to cancer. The factors driving this variation are unknown, but life history theory offers potential explanations to why cancer defense mechanisms are not equal across species. Methodology Here we report the prevalence of neoplasia and malignancy in 37 mammalian species, representing 11 mammalian orders, using 42 years of well curated necropsy data from the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We collected data on life history components of these species and tested for associations between life history traits and both neoplasia and malignancy, while controlling for phylogenetic history. Results These results support Peto’s paradox, in that we find no association between lifespan and/or body mass and the prevalence of neoplasia or malignancy. However, a positive relationship exists between litter size and prevalence of malignancy (P = 0.005, Adj. R2 = 0.212), suggesting that a species’ life history strategy may influence cancer vulnerabilities. Lastly, we tested for the relationship between placental invasiveness and malignancy. We find no evidence for an association between placental depth and malignancy prevalence (P = 0.618, Adj. R2 = 0.068). Conclusions Life history theory offers a powerful framework to understand variation in cancer defenses across the tree of life. These findings provide insight into the relationship between life history traits and cancer vulnerabilities, which suggest a trade-off between reproduction and cancer defenses. Lay summary Why are some mammals more vulnerable to cancer than others? We test whether life history trade-offs may explain this variation in cancer risk. Bigger, longer-lived animals do not develop more cancer compared to smaller, shorter-lived animals. However, we find a positive association between litter size and cancer prevalence in mammals.
    • Lifetime changes in vocal syntactic complexity of rock hyrax males are determined by social class

      Demartsev, Vlad; Kershenbaum, Arik; Ilany, Amiyaal; Barocas, Adi; Weissman, Yishai; Koren, Lee; Geffen, Eli (2019)
      The ontogeny of quality-based signals has been studied in numerous animal systems but the degradation of vocal signals with age has received much less attention. Investigating age-related changes in quality-based acoustic signals and the associated social processes (e.g. rank changes, competition intensity) can expand our understanding of the information content of signals and their perception by receivers....
    • Lineage identification and genealogical relationships among captive Galápagos tortoises

      Benavides, Edgar; Russello, Michael; Boyer, Donal; Wiese, Robert J.; Kajdacsi, Brittney; Marquez, Lady; Garrick, Ryan; Caccone, Adalgisa (2012)
      Genetic tools have become a critical complement to traditional approaches for meeting short‐ and long‐term goals of ex situ conservation programs. The San Diego Zoo (SDZ) harbors a collection of wild‐born and captive‐born Galápagos giant tortoises (n = 22) of uncertain species designation and unknown genealogical relationships. Here, we used mitochondrial DNA haplotypic data and nuclear microsatellite genotypic data to identify the evolutionary lineage of wild‐born and captive‐born tortoises of unknown ancestry, to infer levels of relatedness among founders and captive‐born tortoises, and assess putative pedigree relationships assigned by the SDZ studbook....
    • Linking Behavioral Diversity with Genetic and Ecological Variation in the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti)

      Abwe, Ekwoge E. (Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA, 2018)
      The chimpanzees of Cameroon present a unique opportunity to investigate how ecological variation contributes to promoting intraspecific divergences in the endemic mammals of the region.... This thesis explores environmental and ecological differences between rainforest and ecotone habitats at a fine geographic scale, and compares and contrasts chimpanzee socioecology patterns between these habitats.
    • Local attitudes toward Apennine brown bears: Insights for conservation issues

      Glikman, Jenny A.; Ciucci, Paolo; Marino, Agnese; Davis, Elizabeth Oneita; Bath, Alistair J.; Boitani, Luigi (2019)
      Human-carnivore coexistence is a multi-faceted issue that requires an understanding of the diverse attitudes and perspectives of the communities living with large carnivores. To inform initiatives that encourage behaviors in line with conservation goals, we focused on assessing the two components of attitudes (i.e., feelings and beliefs), as well as norms of local communities coexisting with Apennine brown bears (Ursus arctos marsicanus) for a long time. This bear population is under serious extinction risks due to its persistently small population size, which is currently confined to the long-established protected area of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park (PNALM) and its surrounding region in central Italy. We interviewed 1,611 residents in the PNALM to determine attitudes and values toward bears. We found that support for the bear's legal protection was widespread throughout the area, though beliefs about the benefits of conserving bears varied across geographic administrative districts. Our results showed that residents across our study areas liked bears. At the same time, areas that received more benefits from tourism were more strongly associated with positive feelings toward bears. Such findings provide useful information to improve communication efforts of conservation authorities with local communities.
    • Local knowledge and use of the Valle de Aguan Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura melanosterna, in Honduras

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Danoff-Burg, James A.; Antunes, E.E.; Corneil, J.P. (2014)
      The harvesting of wildlife has had a devastating effect on global biodiversity. Here we investigate the perceived status of the Critically Endangered Valle de Aguán Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura melanosterna. We interviewed 132 residents of the Valle de Aguán, Honduras to: (1) examine their knowledge of the range and habitat preference; (2) document the use and trade; and (3) understand the level of awareness and openness to protection of this species. Our results indicate that these iguanas are primarily used for food. Though they are a small component of the local diet, consumption is occurring with a preference for gravid females. There are significant gender and geographic differences in consumption by humans. Though these harvesting actions contribute to the continuing decline of this species, our results demonstrate that there is a local belief that these iguanas are in danger of extinction, that conservation actions should occur, and that international involvement is welcome.
    • Local knowledge and use of the valle de aguán spinytailed iguana, Ctenosaura melanosterna, in Honduras

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Danoff-Burg, James A.; Antúnez, Edoardo E.; Corneil, Jeffrey P. (2014)
      The harvesting of wildlife has had a devastating effect on global biodiversity. Here we investigate the perceived status of the Critically Endangered Valle de Aguán Spiny-tailed Iguana, Ctenosaura melanosterna. We interviewed 132 residents of the Valle de Aguán, Honduras to: (1) examine their knowledge of the range and habitat preference; (2) document the use and trade; and (3) understand the level of awareness and openness to protection of this species. Our results indicate that these iguanas are primarily used for food. Though they are a small component of the local diet, consumption is occurring with a preference for gravid females. There are significant gender and geographic differences in consumption by humans. Though these harvesting actions contribute to the continuing decline of this species, our results demonstrate that there is a local belief that these iguanas are in danger of extinction, that conservation actions should occur, and that international involvement is welcome.
    • Local people’s knowledge and attitudes matter for the future conservation of the endangered Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi) in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China

      Ellwanger, Amanda L.; Riley, Erin P.; Niu, Kefeng; Tan, Chia L. (2015)
      Ethnoprimatology seeks to untangle the complex relationship between human and nonhuman primates, and in doing so, can provide a better understanding of how the local cultural context affects conservation initiatives. Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China is the last stronghold for the remaining global population of the Endangered Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi). In an effort to contribute to conservation management plans, we aimed to explore local people’s knowledge and attitudes toward the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey and conservation in the reserve using an ethnoprimatological approach. We conducted ethnographic interviews, involving structured, semistructured, and open-ended interview techniques, with 104 households in 11 villages located in and around the reserve. The results indicate that knowledge about the reserve and the monkey is unevenly distributed among respondents; men are significantly more knowledgeable about the reserve than women and women are significantly more knowledgeable about the monkey than men. Respondents are aware of the rules of the reserve but do not always agree with the rules or understand the rationale behind them. Nonetheless, respondents describe conservation as a trade-off and their attitudes toward the monkey and efforts to conserve it are generally positive and supportive. They expressed a feeling of connectedness with the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey because of its observable, humanlike behaviors; a mutual dependence on the forest; and a shared ancestry. Although our goal was to provide specific recommendations to park officials at our study site, our results also more broadly inform conservation management efforts for protected areas globally. For example, we recommend improving communication between reserve officials and local communities, appreciating the role local folklore can play in conservation, incorporating villagers’ perspectives into conservation planning, and implementing educational programs that target a wide demographic, with a particular emphasis on women.
    • Long-term lemur research at Centre Valbio, Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar

      Wright, P.C.; Erhart, E.M.; Tecot, S.; Baden, A.L.; Arrigo-Nelson, S.J.; Herrera, J.; Morelli, T.L.; Blanco, M.B.; Deppe, A.; Atsalis, Sylvia; et al. (Springer-VerlagBerlin, Heidelberg, 2012)
      We present findings from 25 years of studying 13 species of sympatric primates at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. Long-term studies have revealed that lemur demography at Ranomafana is impacted by climate change, predation from raptors, carnivores, and snakes, as well as habitat disturbance....
    • Lorenz Von Liburnau's woolly lemur (Avahi occidentalis). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

      Eppley, Timothy M.; Patel, E.; Reuter, K.E; Steffens, T.S. (2020)
      The species is distributed in two disjunct ranges which, calculated separately, sum up to 3,057 km2; the minimum convex polygon of the total range measures 8,619 km2. This extent of occurrence (EOO) is severely fragmented and undergoing continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat with no overall improvement. It has been estimated that there will be a 78% reduction in the species' range from 2000 to 2080 due to climate change (Brown and Yoder 2015). Based on the EOO, the species is listed as Vulnerable.
    • Lost iguanas: Trouble in paradise

      Pasachnik, Stesha A.; Carreras De Leon, R. (2014)
      Hispaniola is second only to Cuba in size and biodiversity among West Indian islands, and is unique in being the only island with two native species of Rock Iguanas, the Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta; Fig. 1) and Ricord’s Iguana (C. ricordii). The island’s geologic history is likely responsible. Hispaniola was formed during the middle Miocene when North and South paleoislands joined (Graham 2003). A logical hypothesis suggests that each paleoisland held one species, and when the two islands joined, the ranges of both species shifted, eventually resulting in the distributions seen today. Cyclura ricordii is restricted to the southwestern Dominican Republic (DR) and just across the southern border into Haiti, whereas C. cornuta has a larger distribution throughout much of the arid lowlands across the entire island.
    • Low birthrates and high levels of female reproductive inactivity may characterize the reproductive biology of wild Peruvian red uakaris (Cacajao calvus ucayalii)

      Mayor, Pedro; Bowler, Mark (2015)
      ...We collected reproductive organs from wild uakari monkeys hunted for subsistence by indigenous hunters and examined them for embryos or fetuses. We extrapolated birth dates to test for breeding seasonality and calculated birthrates....
    • Low levels of fruit nitrogen as drivers for the evolution of Madagascar’s primate communities

      Donati, Giuseppe; Santini, Luca; Eppley, Timothy M.; Arrigo-Nelson, Summer J.; Balestri, Michela; Boinski, Sue; Bollen, An; Bridgeman, LeAndra L.; Campera, Marco; Carrai, Valentina; et al. (2017)
      The uneven representation of frugivorous mammals and birds across tropical regions – high in the New World, low in Madagascar and intermediate in Africa and Asia – represents a long-standing enigma in ecology. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain these differences but the ultimate drivers remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that fruits in Madagascar contain insufficient nitrogen to meet primate metabolic requirements, thus constraining the evolution of frugivory. We performed a global analysis of nitrogen in fruits consumed by primates, as collated from 79 studies. Our results showed that average frugivory among lemur communities was lower compared to New World and Asian-African primate communities. Fruits in Madagascar contain lower average nitrogen than those in the New World and Old World. Nitrogen content in the overall diets of primate species did not differ significantly between major taxonomic radiations. There is no relationship between fruit protein and the degree of frugivory among primates either globally or within regions, with the exception of Madagascar. This suggests that low protein availability in fruits influences current lemur communities to select for protein from other sources, whereas in the New World and Old World other factors are more significant in shaping primate communities.
    • Low MHC variation in the polar bear: Implications in the face of Arctic warming?

      Weber, D.S.; Van Coeverden de Groot, P.J.; Schrenzel, Mark D.; Perez, D.A.; Thomas, S. (2013)
      Animals in the Arctic have low pathogen diversity but with rapid climate warming, this is expected to change. One insidious consequence of climate change is exposure of Arctic species to new pathogens derived from more southern species expanding their range northward. To assess potential vulnerability of polar bears to disease exposure, we examined genetic variation in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) loci (part of immune system) in Canadian polar bears and found low genetic diversity, consistent with long?standing exposure to low pathogen/parasite loads....
    • Macroevolutionary dynamics and historical biogeography of primate diversification inferred from a species supermatrix

      Springer, Mark S.; Meredith, Robert W.; Gatesy, John; Emerling, Christopher A.; Park, Jong; Rabosky, Daniel L.; Stadler, Tanja; Steiner, Cynthia C.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Janečka, Jan E.; et al. (2012)
      Phylogenetic relationships, divergence times, and patterns of biogeographic descent among primate species are both complex and contentious. Here, we generate a robust molecular phylogeny for 70 primate genera and 367 primate species based on a concatenation of 69 nuclear gene segments and ten mitochondrial gene sequences, most of which were extracted from GenBank. Relaxed clock analyses of divergence times with 14 fossil-calibrated nodes suggest that living Primates last shared a common ancestor 71–63 Ma, and that divergences within both Strepsirrhini and Haplorhini are entirely post-Cretaceous. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs played an important role in the diversification of placental mammals. Previous queries into primate historical biogeography have suggested Africa, Asia, Europe, or North America as the ancestral area of crown primates, but were based on methods that were coopted from phylogeny reconstruction. By contrast, we analyzed our molecular phylogeny with two methods that were developed explicitly for ancestral area reconstruction, and find support for the hypothesis that the most recent common ancestor of living Primates resided in Asia. Analyses of primate macroevolutionary dynamics provide support for a diversification rate increase in the late Miocene, possibly in response to elevated global mean temperatures, and are consistent with the fossil record. By contrast, diversification analyses failed to detect evidence for rate-shift changes near the Eocene-Oligocene boundary even though the fossil record provides clear evidence for a major turnover event (“Grande Coupure”) at this time. Our results highlight the power and limitations of inferring diversification dynamics from molecular phylogenies, as well as the sensitivity of diversification analyses to different species concepts.
    • Male European badger churrs: Insights into call function and motivational basis

      Charlton, Benjamin D.; Newman, Chris; Macdonald, David W.; Buesching, Christina D. (2020)
      Determining the contexts of emission and information content of vocal signals can yield insights into the function of different call types, and remains an important step towards understanding the diversification of mammalian vocal repertoires. In this study, we used infra-red video cameras and remote audio recorders to document seasonal and contextual variation in male European badger (Meles meles) churr production over a 24-month period, and acoustic analysis based on source-filter theory to examine whether churr acoustic structure varies according to the caller’s arousal state and identity….
    • Male-male affiliation and cooperation characterize the social behavior of the large-bodied pitheciids, Chiropotes and Cacajao: A review

      Gregory, Tremaine; Bowler, Mark (2016)
      …In this review of recent studies of male-male social interactions in Chiropotes and Cacajao, we posit that the ability to maintain large groups in these genera may be related to the affiliative and perhaps coalitionary relationships between males, who may or may not be related. Affiliative male-male relationships may allow for monopolization of groups of females and facilitate group cohesion by reducing intragroup aggression; however data on male-male interactions with identified individuals will be required to determine patterns of affiliation, while genetic studies may be the most practical way of determining dispersal patterns for these genera….
    • Management of neonatal mammals

      Frazier, H. B.; Hawes, Janet; Michelson, K. J. (University of Chicago PressChicago, Illinois, 2013)
      Techniques and philosophies regarding neonatal care of zoo animals continue to evolve. The cornerstone of neonatal care should be reproduction in species- appropriate family groups that meets the physical and behavioral needs of zoo animals and supports healthy and sustainable captive populations. Historically, zoo infant care practices have included removing infants or neonates from their dams for hand-rearing to “tame” them for public programs, to increase reproduction, or to decrease infant mortality caused by parental neglect....