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Denver, CO, United States

Reading R.P.,Denver Zoological Foundation | Kenny D.E.,Denver Zoological Foundation | Fitzgerald K.T.,Alameda East Veterinary Hospital
Topics in Companion Animal Medicine | Year: 2013

Conservation biology is a relatively new (began in the 1980s), value-based discipline predicated on the belief that biological diversity-from genes to populations to species to communities to ecosystems-is good and extinction is bad. Conservation biology grew from the recognition that the Earth has entered its sixth great extinction event, one that differs from previous great extinctions in that a single species-Homo sapiens-has caused this biodiversity crisis. A diverse, interacting set of variables drive current extinctions. As such, to succeed, conservation efforts usually require broad-based, interdisciplinary approaches. Conservationists increasingly recognize the importance of contributions by veterinary science, among many other disciplines, to collaborative efforts aimed at stemming the loss of biodiversity.We argue that, to improve success rates, many wildlife conservation programs must incorporate veterinarians as part of an interdisciplinary team to assess and address problems. Ideally, veterinarians who participate in conservation would receive specialized training and be willing to work as partners as part of a larger team of experts who effectively integrate their work rather than work independently (i.e., work as interdisciplinary, as opposed to multidisciplinary, teams, respectively). In our opinion, the most successful and productive projects involve interdisciplinary teams involving both biological and nonbiological specialists. Some researchers hold multiple degrees in biology and veterinary medicine or the biological and social sciences. These experts can often offer unique insight.We see at least 3 major areas in which veterinarians can immediately offer great assistance to conservation efforts: (1) participation in wildlife capture and immobilization, (2) leadership or assistance in addressing wildlife health issues, and (3) leadership or assistance in addressing wildlife disease issues, including using wildlife as sentinels to identify new and emerging diseases or epidemics of old diseases. We cover each of these main topics in detail. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Shipley B.K.,Denver Zoological Gardens | Chiszar D.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Fitzgerald K.T.,Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Saviola A.J.,University of Northern Colorado
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2013

We analyzed movements of three groups of radio-telemetered Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) hibernating in three Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies within short-grass prairie in Arapahoe County, Colorado. Movements were short and frequent, with mean R values (measuring straightness-of-path) not exceeding 0.6. Mean total distance traveled during the entire active season was 3007 m. On average, snakes moved 0.7 times per day, traveling 89 m per movement. Home range sizes varied from 0.3-31.4 ha. All snakes returned in autumn to the same colony in which they hibernated the previous winter. Increased foraging opportunities in our study site may have supported shorter migrations than have been reported for C viridis in Wyoming. Greater body mass of our rattlesnakes and a Nebraska population of C viridis relative to a Wyoming population of C viridis indirectly supports this idea. We discuss conservation implications of these findings. © 2013. Bryon Shipley. All Rights Reserved.

Chiszar D.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Shipley B.K.,Tropical Discovery | Smith H.M.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Fitzgerald K.,Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Saviola A.J.,University of Northern Colorado
Herpetology Notes | Year: 2014

Nineteen free-ranging prairie rattlesnakes, Crotalus viridis, (ten males, nine females) were tracked with radio telemetry at the Plains Conservation Center in Arapahoe County, Colorado in 2005 and 2006. The average angle of all movement segments showed that straightness-of-path was greatest during the vernal migration and declined significantly afterwards. However, we found no scattered random movements during late spring or summer, indicating that snakes moved in 'directed' ways. Direction might be influenced by external cues, such as landmarks and chemicals or it might be based on memory or other interoceptive mechanisms. Furthermore, longer movements had higher r-values than shorter ones. Although only five snakes were followed through the autumnal migration, these showed a return to higher r-values comparable to those seen during the vernal migration. Hypotheses regarding causal mechanisms underlying rattlesnake movement are discussed along with proposed experimental tests. Although our r-values were significantly above zero, they were never as high as those reported for Wyoming conspecifics migrating from hibernacula in the Haystack Mountains, nor were our migrations as long as those seen in the Wyoming snakes. These differences are attributed to differences in prey distributions in the two ecosystems, a distinction with conservation implications, especially when captive-raised, head-started, or otherwise provisioned individuals are to be released into natural habitats.

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