• The Giant Otter: Giants of the Amazon

      Groenendijk, Jessica (White OwlBarnsley, UK, 2019)
      The aptly named giant otter is exceptionally well adapted to life in rivers, lakes and wetlands in tropical South America. Known in Spanish as lobo del rio or 'river wolf', it can be as long as a human is tall, and is the most social of the world's thirteen otter species. Each individual is identifiable from birth by its pale throat pattern, as unique as your fingerprint. Giant otters are top carnivores of the Amazon rainforest and have little to fear… except man.There are many reasons why scientists and tourists alike are fascinated by this charismatic species. Spend a day in the life of a close-knit giant otter family and you’ll realise why. Learn about their diet and hunting techniques, marking and denning behaviour, and breeding and cub-rearing strategies, including shared care of the youngest members. Become familiar with the complex life histories of individual otters over their 15-year lifespans. And accompany a young disperser during the trials and tribulations of a year spent looking for a mate and a home of its own.Although giant otters have few natural enemies, they became the target of the international pelt trade in the 1940s, and by the early 1970s had been hunted to the brink of extinction. Today, illegal hunting is a minor hazard. So why is the giant otter still endangered? Find out about current threats to the species and discover how a variety of conservation actions are benefiting the otters over the last decades. Then be a part of the solution by acting on the steps we can all take to help further giant otter conservation.
    • The i5K Initiative: Advancing arthropod genomics for knowledge, human health, agriculture, and the environment

      Evans, Jay D.; Brown, Susan J.; Hackett, Kevin J.; Robinson, Gene; Richards, Stephen; Lawson, Daniel; Elsik, Christine; Coddington, Jonathan; Edwards, Owain; Emrich, Scott; et al. (2013)
      Insects and their arthropod relatives including mites, spiders, and crustaceans play major roles in the world’s terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems. Arthropods compete with humans for food and transmit devastating diseases. They also comprise the most diverse and successful branch of metazoan evolution, with millions of extant species. Here, we describe an international effort to guide arthropod genomic efforts, from species prioritization to methodology and informatics. The 5000 arthropod genomes initiative (i5K) community met formally in 2012 to discuss a roadmap for sequencing and analyzing 5000 high-priority arthropods and is continuing this effort via pilot projects, the development of standard operating procedures, and training of students and career scientists. With university, governmental, and industry support, the i5K Consortium aspires to deliver sequences and analytical tools for each of the arthropod branches and each of the species having beneficial and negative effects on humankind.
    • The importance of behavioral research in zoological institutions: An introduction to the special issue

      Miller, Lance J.; Mellen, Jill D.; Kuczaj, Stan, A.II (2013)
      Behavioral research within zoological institutions (zoos and aquariums) has a long history that has helped to increase basic scientific knowledge and to facilitate the ability of institutions to make informed animal management decisions. Kleiman (1992) stated that "behavior research in zoos has enormous potential to contribute positively to the science of animal management, long-term breeding programs, conservation biology, and the advancement of scientific theory" (p. 309). As evidenced by the papers in this issue, behavioral research in zoos continues to be important. The purpose of this special issue is to highlight some of the behavioral research being conducted within zoos and aquariums and to demonstrate the importance of such work to zoological institutions and the greater scientific community. With a better understanding of the importance of behavioral research, we hope to inspire more zoological facilities to become involved either through funding/conducting research or by actively promoting the use of their animal collections for behavioral research to both the zoological and academic communities....
    • The influence of ambient noise on maternal behavior in a Bornean sun bear (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus)

      Owen, Megan A.; Hall, S.; Bryant, L.; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2014)
      …Here we correlate behavioral and vocal patterns in a Bornean sun bear (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus ) mother and cub with ambient noise levels during the 6‐month post‐partum period. We hypothesized that loud ambient noise would be correlated with changes in behavior, and predicted that noise would be negatively correlated with maternal care behavior, potentially masking cub vocalizations or providing a distraction to the mother….
    • The influence of captive breeding management on founder representation and inbreeding in the ‘Alalā, the Hawaiian crow

      Hedrick, Philip W.; Hoeck, Paquita E. A.; Fleischer, Robert C.; Farabaugh, Susan M.; Masuda, Bryce M. (2016)
      The ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis), or the Hawaiian crow, was historically only found on the island of Hawai‘i, declined greatly in the twentieth century, and was last seen in the wild in 2002. A captive breeding program was initiated in the 1970s and 113 individuals were in captivity in 2014....
    • The influence of social context on animal behavior: Implications for conservation

      Owen, Megan A. (University of California, Los Angeles.Los Angeles, 2014)
      The pervasive perturbation of natural systems by human activities has rapidly changed the social context of many free-ranging animals, potentially reducing the efficiency of reproductive strategies, as well as the effective population size (Ne). Behavioral flexibility can be beneficial to species confronted with rapid contextual change, and the range of flexibility may ultimately influence whether a species can buy the time needed to respond adaptively to change. From the perspective of conservation management, an understanding of species' behavioral flexibility may improve predictions regarding the effects of rapid environmental change on populations, and facilitate the application of behavioral knowledge to conservation management. Fundamentally, an animal's decision-making processes are responsible for generating flexible behavioral responses, thus the lability of mechanisms underpinning decision-making influences the flexibility of behavioral responses. Here I evaluate the study of animal decision-making across scientific disciplines. I critically assess the use of animal decision-making in conservation and suggest ways in which decision theory could enhance conservation strategies. My empirical research is focused on the influence of social context on behavioral flexibility in the endangered giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). The panda is a compelling species in which to study behavioral flexibility in the conservation context, because they are solitary, and females are seasonally-monoestrus and ovulate spontaneously. While energetic constraints play a prominent role in reproductive strategies, little is known regarding their mating system or the plasticity of reproductive behavior. Pandas are behaviorally expressive, using multiple modes of signaling during courtship, however, a holistic understanding of multimodal signaling in the species is lacking. Further, although populations are depleted throughout most of their range, the influence of social context on behavior and communication has not been described. Here we show that female signaling effort is generally lower in the exclusive presence of other females, suggesting that females can modify their behavioural efforts during the pre-ovulatory period according to the prevailing social context. We also found that multimodal signaling during social interactions did not consistently evoke an immediate, discrete response from receivers. Together these findings suggest that giant pandas demonstrate a limited degree of flexible behavioral responses dependent upon the prevailing social context.
    • The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei): a report of 25 years of conservation effort

      Wilson, B.; Grant, Tandora D.; Van Veen, R.; Hudson, R.; Fleuchaus, D.; Robinson, O.; Stephenson, K.; Iverson, John B.; Grant, Tandora D.; Knapp, Charles R.; et al. (2016)
      Considered extinct by the late 1940s, the Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) was re-discovered in 1970, and its existence confirmed in 1990. The 1970 re-discovery went largely unnoticed; in contrast, the 1990 “re-discovery” spawned a successful international recovery effort….
    • The past, present, and future of using social marketing to conserve biodiversity

      Veríssimo, Diogo (2019)
      Since the establishment of social marketing as a discipline, it was clear that environmental sustainability would be part of its scope. Yet, whereas the academic scope of the field was broadly defined, the origins of social marketing practice, which were heavily linked to the promotion of family planning, meant that the development of this practice-led field has been historically focused on public health....
    • The pitfalls of ignoring behaviour when quantifying habitat selection

      Roever, C.L.; Beyer, H.L.; Chase, Michael J.; van Aarde, R.J. (2014)
      Habitat selection is a behavioural mechanism by which animals attempt to maximize their inclusive fitness while balancing competing demands, such as finding food and rearing offspring while avoiding predation, in a heterogeneous and changing environment. Different habitat characteristics may be associated with each of these demands, implying that habitat selection varies depending on the behavioural motivations of the animal. Here, we investigate behaviour‐specific habitat selection in African elephants and discuss its implications for distribution modelling and conservation.
    • The plight of the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni): is there still hope to prevent extinction?

      Ryder, Oliver A.; Hermes, R.; Goeritz, F.; Durrant, Barbara S.; Stejskal, J.; Hrudy, J.; Vahala, L.; Loring, Jeanne F.; Hildebrandt, T.B.; Szentiks, C.A.; et al. (Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchBerlin, 2015)
    • The population genetics of wild chimpanzees in Cameroon and Nigeria suggests a positive role for selection in the evolution of chimpanzee subspecies

      Mitchell, Matthew W.; Locatelli, Sabrina; Ghobrial, Lora; Pokempner, Amy A.; Sesink Clee, Paul R.; Abwe, Ekwoge E.; Nicholas, Aaron; Nkembi, Louis; Anthony, Nicola M.; Morgan, Bethan J.; et al. (2015)
      Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) can be divided into four subspecies. Substantial phylogenetic evidence suggests that these subspecies can be grouped into two distinct lineages: a western African group that includes P. t. verus and P. t. ellioti and a central/eastern African group that includes P. t. troglodytes and P. t. schweinfurthii. The geographic division of these two lineages occurs in Cameroon, where the rages of P. t. ellioti and P. t. troglodytes appear to converge at the Sanaga River. Remarkably, few population genetic studies have included wild chimpanzees from this region.
    • The seasonal energetic landscape of an apex marine carnivore, the polar bear

      Pagano, Anthony M.; Atwood, Todd C.; Durner, George M.; Williams, Terrie M. (2020)
      …In recent decades, the Southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) has developed a divergent movement strategy in response to diminishing sea ice where the majority of the subpopulation (73–85%) stays on the sea ice in summer and the remaining bears move to land…. We used GPS satellite collars with tri-axial accelerometers and conductivity sensors to measure the location, behavior, and energy expenditure of five adult female polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea across seasons of sea ice breakup and minimum extent…
    • The socio-cultural importance of Mauritia flexuosa palm swamps (aguajales) and implications for multi-use management in two Maijuna communities of the Peruvian Amazon

      Gilmore, Michael P.; Endress, Bryan A.; Horn, Christa M. (2013)
      Background Fruit from the palm Mauritia flexuosa (aguaje) is harvested throughout the Peruvian Amazon for subsistence and commercial purposes. Recent estimates suggest that residents of Iquitos, the largest city in the region, consume approximately 148.8 metric tons of aguaje fruit per month, the vast majority of which is harvested by felling and killing adult female trees. In this study, we sought to better understand and document the importance of M. flexuosa palm swamps (aguajales) in two Maijuna indigenous communities to inform the sustainable management of this habitat and species. Methods Semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and household surveys were carried out to assess the significance of aguajales and their associated plant and animal resources as well as to determine how the relationship that the Maijuna have with aguajales has changed over time. Results Aguajales and their associated resources are culturally significant and useful to the Maijuna in a wide variety of ways. In addition to M. flexuosa, the Maijuna use over 60 different species of plants from aguajales. When M. flexuosa is in fruit, aguajales are important hunting areas with a total of 20 different animal species hunted. The Maijuna also have traditional beliefs about aguajales, believing that malevolent supernatural beings reside in them. Notably, the relationship that the Maijuna have with aguajales has changed considerably over the years as aguaje fruit went from a subsistence item collected opportunistically from the ground to a market good destructively harvested beginning in the early 1990s. The Maijuna are concerned not only about how this has affected the future commercial harvest of aguaje but also about its effects on game animals given the importance of hunting to Maijuna cultural identity, subsistence, and income generation. Conclusions In order to meet the multiple socio-cultural and economic needs of the Maijuna, sustainable management efforts must be expanded to not only focus on the commercial harvest of aguaje but also other facets of their relationship with this habitat. Our study suggests that the research and development of multi-use forest management plans must not be restricted to commercial forest products and ecosystem services given that many communities rely on tropical forests for a wide range of non-market cultural, economic, and subsistence goods and services.
    • The use of genomics in conservation management of the endangered Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons)

      Nuijten, R. J. M.; Bosse, M.; Crooijmans, Rpma; Madsen, O.; Schaftenaar, W.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Groenen, M. A. M.; Megens, H. J. (2016)
      The list of threatened and endangered species is growing rapidly, due to various anthropogenic causes. Many endangered species are present in captivity and actively managed in breeding programs in which often little is known about the founder individuals. Recent developments in genetic research techniques have made it possible to sequence and study whole genomes. In this study we used the critically endangered Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons) as a case study to test the use of genomic information as a tool in conservation management. Two captive populations of S. cebifrons exist, which originated from two different Philippine islands. We found some evidence for a recent split between the two island populations; however all individuals that were sequenced show a similar demographic history. Evidence for both past and recent inbreeding indicated that the founders were at least to some extent related. Together with this, the low level of nucleotide diversity compared to other Sus species potentially poses a threat to the viability of the captive populations. In conclusion, genomic techniques answered some important questions about this critically endangered mammal and can be a valuable toolset to inform future conservation management in other species as well.
    • The value of ecosystem services from giant panda reserves

      Wei, Fuwen; Costanza, Robert; Dai, Qiang; Stoeckl, Natalie; Gu, Xiaodong; Farber, Stephen; Nie, Yonggang; Kubiszewski, Ida; Hu, Yibo; Swaisgood, Ronald R.; et al. (2018)
      Ecosystem services (the benefits to humans from ecosystems) are estimated globally at $125 trillion/year [1, 2]. Similar assessments at national and regional scales show how these services support our lives [3]. All valuations recognize the role of biodiversity, which continues to decrease around the world in maintaining these services [4, 5]....
    • The “Law of Brevity” in animal communication: Sex-specific signaling optimization is determined by call amplitude rather than duration

      Demartsev, Vlad; Gordon, Naomi; Barocas, Adi; Bar Ziv, Einat; Ilany, Tchia; Goll, Yael; Ilany, Amiyaal; Geffen, Eli (2019)
      The efficiency of informational transfer is one of the key aspects of any communication system. The informational coding economy of human languages is often demonstrated by their almost universal fit to Zipf's “Law of Brevity,” expressing negative relationship between word length and its usage frequency. Animal vocal systems, however, provided mixed results in their adherence to this relationship, potentially due to conflicting evolutionary pressures related to differences in signaling range and communicational needs. To examine this potential parallel between human and animal vocal communication, and also to explore how divergent, sex-specific, communicational settings affect signaling efficiency within a species, we examined the complete vocal repertoire of rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis). As male and female hyraxes differ in their sociality levels and male hyraxes vocal repertoire is dominated by sexual advertisement songs, we hypothesized that sex-specific vocal repertoires could be subjected to different signaling optimization pressures. Our results show that the sexes differ in repertoire size, call usage, and adherence to coding efficiency principles. Interestingly, the classic call length/call usage relationship is not consistently found in rock hyraxes. Rather, a negative relationship between call amplitude and call usage is found, suggesting that the efficiency of the vocal repertoire is driven by call amplitude rather than duration. We hypothesize that, in contrast to human speech that is mainly intended for short distance, the need for frequent long-range signaling shapes an animal's vocal repertoire efficiency according to the cost of call amplitude rather than call length. However, call duration may be a secondary factor affecting signaling efficiency, in cases where amplitude is under specific selection pressures, such as sexual selection.
    • Thomas' dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus thomasi). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

      Ganzhorn, J.; Donati, G; Eppley, Timothy M.; Lahann, P; Rakotondranary, S.J.; Ramanamanjato, J.-B.; Randriantafika, F.M. (2020)
      This species has been assessed as Endangered as the area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be between 12 and 260 km2, and the extent of occurrence is estimated to be 458 km2. The forests are severely fragmented with the largest fragments measuring less than 4 km2. The size of most forest fragments is declining and forests are being degraded. The species does not seem to tolerate forest degradation and thus does not occupy all forest fragments of the region (Ganzhorn et al. 2007). Given the impact of habitat loss, the species is thought to be in decline.
    • To what extent is social marketing used in demand reduction campaigns for illegal wildlife products? Insights from elephant ivory and rhino horn

      Greenfield, Steven; Veríssimo, Diogo (2019)
      The illegal wildlife trade is a global threat to biodiversity as well as to public health and good governance. As legislation and law enforcement have been insufficient to protect many wildlife species, conservationists are increasingly focused on campaigns to help reduce demand for wildlife products....
    • Toward the metacollection: safeguarding plant diversity and coordinating conservation collections

      Griffith, M. P.; Beckman, E.; Calicrate, T.; Clark, John R.; Clase, T.; Deans, S.; Dosmann, M.; Fant, J.; Gratacos, X.; Havens, K.; et al. (Botanic Gardens Conservation International-USSan Marino, CA, 2019)
      Worldwide, over 3,000 botanic gardens maintain at least one-third of all known plant diversity. The collective conservation power of botanic gardens is essential to stop plant extinction. Networks allow gardens to coordinate efforts to save endangered plants. The global web of botanic gardens is the world’s largest force for plant conservation – as long as it is well coordinated!
    • TP53 gene and cancer resistance in elephants

      Pessier, Allan P.; Stern, Jere K.; Witte, Carmel L. (2016)
      To the Editor: The study by Dr Abegglen and colleagues affirmed the Peto paradox and suggested that elephants are cancer resistant by virtue of multiple TP53 gene copies and enhanced responses to DNA damage. This study epitomizes a “One Health” approach to solving important disease problems shared by humans and animals. However, from our experience working in a large zoo-based , we were surprised by the results because, unlike in the notoriously cancer-resistant naked mole rats, we have diagnosed cancers in several elephants.