• A comparison of walking rates Between wild and zoo African elephants

      Miller, Lance J.; Chase, Michael J.; Hacker, Charlotte E. (2016)
      The goal of the current study was to compare the walking rates of elephants in the wild versus elephants in zoos to determine if elephants are walking similar distances relative to their wild counterparts. Eleven wild elephants throughout different habitats and locations in Botswana were compared to 8 elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Direct comparisons revealed no significant difference in average walking rates of zoo elephants when compared with wild elephants….
    • A High-Quality, Long-Read De Novo Genome Assembly to Aid Conservation of Hawaii's Last Remaining Crow Species

      Sutton, Jolene; Helmkampf, Martin; Steiner, Cynthia C.; Bellinger, M. Renee; Korlach, Jonas; Hall, Richard; Baybayan, Primo; Muehling, Jill; Gu, Jenny; Kingan, Sarah; et al. (2018)
      Genome-level data can provide researchers with unprecedented precision to examine the causes and genetic consequences of population declines, which can inform conservation management. Here, we present a high-quality, long-read, de novo genome assembly for one of the world’s most endangered bird species, the ʻAlalā (Corvus hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow). As the only remaining native crow species in Hawaiʻi, the ʻAlalā survived solely in a captive-breeding program from 2002 until 2016, at which point a long-term reintroduction program was initiated. The high-quality genome assembly was generated to lay the foundation for both comparative genomics studies and the development of population-level genomic tools that will aid conservation and recovery efforts. We illustrate how the quality of this assembly places it amongst the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems. We describe the genome architecture in terms of repetitive elements and runs of homozygosity, and we show that compared with more outbred species, the ʻAlalā genome is substantially more homozygous. We also provide annotations for a subset of immunity genes that are likely to be important in conservation management, and we discuss how this genome is currently being used as a roadmap for downstream conservation applications
    • A management experiment evaluating nest-site selection by beach-nesting birds

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Nordstrom, Lisa A.; Schuetz, Justin G.; Boylan, Jeanette T.; Fournier, Joelle J.; Shemai, Barak (2018)
      It is important to understand nest-site selection in avian species to inform appropriate conservation management strategies. Studies of habitat selection alone, however, may be misleading unless the consequences for survival and reproduction are also documented....
    • A multi-model approach to guide habitat conservation and restoration for the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat

      Chock, Rachel Y.; Hennessy, Sarah McCullough; Wang, Thea B.; Gray, Emily; Shier, Debra M. (2020)
      The San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) is a federally listed endangered species endemic to Southern California and limited to three remaining populations. Its native habitat of alluvial fan sage scrub faces many anthropogenic threats, including urban and agricultural development, and the resulting flood control and fire suppression. With the loss of natural processes such as scouring or burning from floods and fires, the mosaic of seral stages across the landscape has shifted to dense vegetation, and active restoration may be necessary to provide suitable habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat. Species distribution modeling using the partitioned Mahalanobis distance method on all occurrence points collected in the past 16 years revealed that alluvial scrub cover and fluvent soils were most strongly associated with San Bernardino kangaroo rat occupancy. Through surveys at 14 locations across the species’ range, we identified non-native grass cover, shrub cover, bare ground and sandy soils as microhabitat features related to San Bernardino kangaroo rat abundance. We also calculated the optimal range of cover for each habitat type that was correlated with higher kangaroo rat abundance. The results of this multiple-model approach can be used by the agencies to assess the value of conserved habitat, set targets for microhabitat enhancement to facilitate population growth and expansion, or identify receiver sites should translocation be required for recovery. This work lays the foundation for more coordinated and strategic restoration efforts, given the compressed and rigid timelines of development projects that continue to impact remaining San Bernardino kangaroo rat populations.
    • A reliable method for sexing giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) in the wild

      Groenendijk, Jessica; Hajek, Frank (2015)
      ...Here, we present a reliable method of sexing wild Giant otters of all ages and sexual status, tested with known sex individuals.
    • Applications of animal behavior to conservation

      Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Greggor, Alison L.; Choe, Jae (Academic PressOxford, UK, 2019)
      Animal behavior can influence conservation outcomes, and can be used as a tool for diagnosing anthropogenic impacts and managing species’ recovery. Researchers from disparate backgrounds in animal behavior, most notably behavioral ecology and applied ethology, are using their research to contribute to conservation efforts, including reserve design, human disturbance, and reintroduction programs....
    • Applying SNP-derived molecular coancestry estimates to captive breeding programs

      Ivy, Jamie A.; Putnam, Andrea S.; Navarro, Asako Y.; Gurr, Jessica; Ryder, Oliver A. (2016)
      ...Although pedigree-based breeding strategies are quite effective at retaining long-term genetic variation, management of zoo-based breeding programs continues to be hampered when pedigrees are poorly known. The objective of this study was to evaluate 2 options for generating single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data to resolve unknown relationships within captive breeding programs...
    • 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.
    • Behavior coding and ethogram of Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi)

      Cui, Duoying; Niu, K.; Tan, Chia L.; Yang, M.; Zhang, Y.; Zhang, J.; Yang, Y. (2014)
      We observed the behavior processes and habitats of free-ranging Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus brelichi) in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) and captive Guizhousnub-nosed monkeys in Wildlife Rescue Center in FNNR and Beijing Zoo from October 2009 to April 2014…. We found that there were some behavioral differences among Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, Sichuan snub-nosed monkey and Yunnan snub-nosed monkey in individual and social behaviors, and these might be related to the different habitats.
    • Behavioral adaptations of a large carnivore to human activity in an extremely arid landscape

      Barocas, Adi; Hefner R.; Ucko M.; Merkle J. A.; Geffen Eli (2018)
      Abstract Driven by the availability of food subsidies and landscape transformation, large carnivore populations are increasingly inhabiting the vicinity of humans. To persist in human proximity, while avoiding conflict and mortality, they must make adjustments in their spatial behavior....
    • 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…
    • Blood Lead Levels in Captive Giant Pandas

      Wintle, Nathan J. P.; Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Zhou, Xiaoping; Zhang, Hemin (2018)
      Fifteen giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) from the Chinese Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in Bifengxia, Sichuan, China were analyzed for blood lead concentrations (Pb-B) during the 2017 breeding season. Thirteen of the 15 bears showed Pb-B below the method detection limit (MDL) of 3.3 µg/dL....
    • California condor recovery: a work in progress

      Wallace, Michael P.; Lamont, Miles M. (Hancock House PublishersToronto, Ontario, Canada. Surrey, BC, Canada., 2014)
    • Contextual influences on animal decision-making: Significance for behavior-based wildlife conservation and management

      Owen, Megan A.; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; Blumstein, Daniel T. (2017)
      Survival and successful reproduction require animals to make critical decisions amidst a naturally dynamic environmental and social background (i.e. “context”). However, human activities have pervasively, and rapidly, extended contextual variation into evolutionarily novel territory, potentially rendering evolved animal decision-making mechanisms and strategies maladaptive. We suggest that explicitly focusing on animal decision-making (ADM), by integrating and applying findings from studies of sensory ecology, cognitive psychology, behavioral economics and eco-evolutionary strategies, may enhance our understanding of, and our ability to predict how, human-driven changes in the environment and population demography will influence animal populations. Fundamentally, the decisions animals make involve evolved mechanisms, and behaviors emerge from the combined action of sensory integration, cognitive mechanisms and strategic rules of thumb, and any of these processes may have a disproportionate influence on behavior. Although there is extensive literature exploring ADM, it generally reflects a canalized, discipline-specific approach that lacks a unified conceptual framework. As a result, there has been limited application of ADM theory and research findings into predictive models that can enhance management outcomes, even though it is likely that the relative resilience of species to rapid environmental change is fundamentally a result of how ADM is linked to contextual variation. Here, we focus on how context influences ADM, and highlight ideas and results that may be most applicable to conservation biology.
    • Current role, importance and characteristics of human dimensions in wildlife management, a preliminary assessment from European and North American scientific journals

      Lavadinovic, Vukan; Glikman, Jenny A.; Ulrich, Schraml (2017)
      Human dimensions (HD) of wildlife management is a young field of enquiry which develops in several different directions and deals with various topics. Despite it is possible that popular research topics exist in HD studies, there is no proper research that identifies their role and importance. Besides, there is lack of knowledge on HD studies’ worldwide distribution and research trends per different world regions.The aim of this research was to provide knowledge on current role and characteristics of Human dimensions in wildlife management by analyzing four parameters:  (1) proportion of HD studies, (2) current popular research topics in HD studies, (3) distribution of HD studies per world regions and (4) priorities in HD studies per world regions. For the purpose of this article, three journals such as The Journal of Wildlife Management (JWM), Human Dimensions of Wildlife (HDW) and European Journal of Wildlife Research (EJWR), which originate from North America and Europe, retrospectively, were analyzed for the period 2007-2012.Results of this preliminary work show that the proportion of HD studies, in the JWM and EJWR journals, was low, only 2.6%. Analysis of all three journals identified research topics like Large carnivores (15.07%); Wildlife conservation (13.88%); Wildlife management issues (13.88%); and Human-wildlife conflict (13.16%), as the most popular. A geographically biased manuscript distribution was evidenced as well as different popular research topics per world regions
    • 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....
    • Do opposites attract? Effects of personality matching in breeding pairs of captive giant pandas on reproductive success

      Martin-Wintle, Meghan S.; Shepherdson, David; Zhang, Guiquan; Huang, Yan; Luo, Bo; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2017)
      Successful and cost-effective conservation breeding programs rely largely on animals doing what should come naturally: mate & reproduce. Behavioral management, especially that targeting mate compatibility and choice, will be important to achieve breeding goals efficiently. The endangered giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, was once notorious for its poor reproductive performance in captivity. Although the panda breeding program has experienced great improvement in recent years, we hypothesized that a better understanding of the role personality traits play in mating behavior could further improve reproductive performance. We used animal caretaker surveys and novel object tests to characterize pandas according to several personality traits—including exploratory, aggressiveness, excitability, fearfulness, and general activity—and tested how variation in these traits influenced mate compatibility and offspring production. Our findings indicate that specific combinations of personality traits showed better reproductive performance than others. Sometimes personality trait similarity enhanced reproduction and sometimes it impaired reproduction, depending on the trait. For example, Excitable males paired with Low-Excitable females had better reproductive outcomes, but pairs with Low-Fearful males regardless of the female's Fearfulness performed better. Males that were more Aggressive than their female partner were more likely to mate and produce cubs than when the female had a higher level of Aggressiveness than the male. Applying these results to breeding management strategies should result in higher reproductive rates and the production of more candidates for China's panda reintroduction program. These results highlight the potential importance of associative mating patterns based on personality for conservation breeding programs for a large number of other species.
    • Estimating past and future male loss in three Zambian lion populations

      Becker, Matthew S.; Watson, Fred G.R.; Droge, Egil; Leigh, Kellie; Carlson, Ron S.; Carlson, Anne A. (2013)
      …Zambia contains viable lion populations of considerable importance for photographic and hunting tourism, but long‐term lion demographic data do not exist to guide recent management directives and population projections under different strategies. We described population size, as well as age and sex structure of lions in 3 Zambian national park populations bordering hunting areas, and found them to be male‐depleted relative to other systems….
    • Experimental habitat restoration for conserved species using ecosystem engineers and vegetation management

      Hennessy, Sarah McCullough; Deutschman, D. H.; Shier, Debra M.; Nordstrom, Lisa A.; Lenihan, C.; Montagne, J.P.; Wisinski, Colleen L.; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2016)
      We manipulated vegetation and the ecosystem engineer California ground squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi, in a replicated, large-scale field experiment for 2 years, and monitored through a third year…. The overarching goal of this experiment was to provide conservation managers with a cost-effective tool for restoring degraded habitats to a hybrid ecosystem state with improved suitability for species of conservation concern, in this case, the western burrowing owl Athene cunicularia hypugaea.
    • 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.