Schwitzer C.,Bristol Zoological Society |
Mittermeier R.A.,Wildlife Conservation Society |
Johnson S.E.,University of Calgary |
Donati G.,Oxford Brookes University |
And 17 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014
Community-based management, ecotourism, and researchers' presence are proposed to prevent lemur extinctions.
News Article | February 15, 2017
As the climate changes and fisheries transform the oceans, the world's African penguins are in trouble, according to researchers reporting in Current Biology on February 9. Young penguins aren't able to take all the changes into account and are finding themselves "trapped" in parts of the sea that can no longer support them even as better options are available. "Our results show that juvenile African penguins are stuck foraging for food in the wrong places due to fishing and climate change," says Richard Sherley (@rbsherley) of the University of Exeter and University of Cape Town. "When the young of this endangered species leave the colony for the first time, they travel long distances, searching the ocean for certain signs that should mean they have found an area with lots of plankton and plenty of the fish that feed on it. But rapid shifts caused by climate change and fishing mean these signs can now lead them to places where these fish, the penguins' main prey, are scarce with impacts on their survival--a so-called 'ecological trap.' "Protecting the penguins--and other species--from falling into similar ecological traps will require better action to account of the needs of predators in managing fisheries and concerted action to tackle climate change." Sherley and colleagues, including Stephen Votier, also at the University of Exeter, and scientists from the Namibian and South African governments, made the discovery after using satellites to track the dispersal of newly fledged African penguins from eight sites across their breeding range. They wanted to find out whether the penguins were being trapped in what's known as the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). The BCLME is one of four major eastern boundary upwelling ecosystems of the world, Sherley explains. This portion of the ocean stretches from near the Angola-Benguela front in southern Angola in the north to Cape Point in South Africa's Western Cape. It has historically also been one of the most productive ocean areas in the world, rife with anchovies and sardines, which make good food for penguins and for people. In recent decades, overfishing in Namibia, heavy localized fishing, and subsequent environmental change have reduced the number of sardines and changed the areas that the fish use. In addition, fish and plankton are no longer reliably found together as they were in the past. The problem is that no one told the penguins. "The penguins still move to where the plankton are abundant, but the fish are no longer there," Sherley says. "In particular, sardines in Namibia have been replaced in the ecosystem by lower-energy fish and jellyfish." The researchers developed models to show that the penguins travel over thousands of kilometers to find areas where sea surface temperatures are low and chlorophyll concentrations are high, a sign that should mean plenty of plankton and the fish that go with them. The researchers don't yet know for sure, but they suspect that the penguins are responding to substances given off by phytoplankton when they are under stress, as occurs when they are being grazed on by predators. "These were once reliable cues for prey-rich waters, but climate change and industrial fishing have depleted forage fish stocks in this system," Sherley says. Young penguins that find themselves in the degraded Benguela ecosystem today often fail to survive. Their breeding numbers are about 50% lower than they would be if they found their way to other waters, where the human impact has been less severe, the new study shows. Sherley and Votier say it might be possible to protect the penguins by translocating chicks to a place where it's not possible to get trapped. They say there is some evidence that fledglings from the colonies in South Africa's Eastern Cape generally don't get caught in the trap, at least not yet. There are other options, too, such as building spatial fishing closures in key areas where the penguins feed or otherwise increasing the number of sardines in the area. Sherley says the South African government is working to implement spatially explicit catch limits and management practices in their sardine fishery, which will almost surely help. The researchers are helping to inform their decisions with the penguins in mind. Meanwhile, their work to understand how fishing influences the interactions between seabirds and their prey at different spatial scales and at different phases of the birds' lifecycle and how to protect them continues. This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, Bristol Zoological Society, Earthwatch Institute, Leiden Conservation Foundation, the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, and the authors' institutions. Current Biology (@CurrentBiology), published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that features papers across all areas of biology. Current Biology strives to foster communication across fields of biology, both by publishing important findings of general interest and through highly accessible front matter for non-specialists. Visit: http://www. . To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Article | November 24, 2015
The population crunch is the result of large-scale habitat destruction—particularly the burning and clearing of tropical forests—as well as the hunting of primates for food and the illegal wildlife trade. Species long-known to be at risk, including the Sumatran orangutan, have been joined on the most endangered list for the first time by the Philippine tarsier and the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur from Madagascar, scientists meeting in Singapore said. "This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates," leading primatologist Christoph Schwitzer, director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society in Britain, said in a statement. "We hope it will focus people's attention on these lesser known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of." This includes the Lavasoa Mountains dwarf lemur—a species only discovered two years ago—and the Roloway monkey from Ghana and Ivory Coast, which experts say "are on the very verge of extinction". There are 703 species and sub-species of primates in the world. Madagascar and Vietnam are home to large numbers of highly threatened primate species, the statement said. In Africa, the red colobus monkeys was under "particular threat", as were some of South America's howler monkeys and spider monkeys, it added. "All of these species are relatively large and conspicuous, making them prime targets for bushmeat hunting," the statement said. Russell Mittermeier, chair of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said he hoped the report would encourage governments to commit to "desperately needed biodiversity conservation measures". Mittermeier said ahead of next month's global climate conference in Paris, there was growing evidence some primate species might play key roles in dispersing tropical forest tree seeds, which in turn "have a critically important role in mitigating climate change". Here is the list of the world's top 25 most endangered primates for 2014-2016 and their estimated numbers remaining in the wild. The list is compiled by the IUCN, Bristol Zoological Society, International Primatological Society and Conservation International and is updated every two years: Rondo dwarf galago—unknown but remaining habitat is just 100 square kilometres (40 square miles) Roloway monkey—unknown but thought to be on the very verge of extinction Explore further: Dozens of primate species on the brink: study
News Article | November 25, 2015
Experts around the globe stressed that over half of the world's primates are on the brink of extinction. Primates, including lemurs, monkeys and apes, are dwindling in numbers due to widespread loss of natural habitat and illegal wildlife sale. Hunting primates for wild meat also contribute to their reduced population. For the first time, the Sumatran orangutan, Philippine tarsier and Madagascar's Lavasoa dwarf lemur joined the world's most endangered species list. The world's lesser-known but endangered primates are the research's main highlights. "We hope it will focus people's attention on these lesser-known primate species, some of which most people will probably have never heard of," said Bristol Zoological Society's conservation director and lead primatologist Christoph Schwitzer. The world has approximately 703 primate species and subspecies. Madagascar's Lavasoa dwarf lemur was discovered only two years ago. Other lesser-known primates in peril are the Roloway monkeys from the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Africa's red colobus monkeys and South America's spider monkeys and howler monkeys have become man's major targets in the hunt for wild meat. International Union for Conservation of Nature's Species Survival Commission chair Russell Mittermeier hoped the new report would push governments around the world towards the much-needed conservation actions for biodiversity. Just in time for the climate change conference in Paris, there are accumulating evidence that some primate species are capable of scattering tree seeds of tropical trees, which could help moderate the worsening effects of climate change. Below are the world's top 25 most endangered primate species in 2014 to 2016. Updated every two years and compiled by the Bristol Zoological Society, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Conservation International and the International Primatological Society, the list includes the species' estimated remaining population living in the wild.
Taylor L.A.,Bristol Zoological Society |
Taylor L.A.,University of Bristol |
Muller D.W.H.,University of Zürich |
Schwitzer C.,Bristol Zoological Society |
And 4 more authors.
Contributions to Zoology | Year: 2014
Tooth wear can affect body condition, reproductive success and life expectancy. Poor dental health is frequently reported in the zoo literature, and abrasion-dominated tooth wear, which is typical for grazers, has been reported in captive browsing ruminants. The aim of this study was to test if a similar effect is evident in captive rhinoceros species. Dental casts of maxillary cheek teeth of museum specimens of captive black (Diceros bicornis; browser), greater one-horned (Rhinoceros unicornis; intermediate feeder) and white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum; grazer) were analysed using the recently developed extended mesowear method for rhinoceroses. Captive D. bicornis exhibited significantly more abrasion-dominated tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics (p<0.001), whereas captive C. simum exhibited significantly less abrasion-dominated tooth wear, particularly in the posterior cusp of the second molar (p=0.005). In R. unicornis, fewer differences were exhibited between free-ranging and captive animals, but tooth wear was highly variable in this species. In both free-ranging and captive D. bicornis, anterior cusps were significantly more abrasiondominated than posterior cusps (p<0.05), which indicates morphological differences between cusps that may represent functional adaptations. By contrast, tooth wear gradients between free-ranging and captive animals differed, which indicates ingesta-specific influences responsible for inter-tooth wear differences. Captive D. bicornis exhibited more homogenous tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics, which may be caused by an increase in the absolute dietary abrasiveness and a decrease in relative environmental abrasiveness compared to their freeranging conspecifics. The opposite occurred in C. simum. The results of this study suggest that diets fed to captive browsers are too abrasive, which could result in the premature loss of tooth functionality, leading to reduced food acquisition and processing ability and, consequently, malnourishment.
PubMed | University of Zürich, University of Hamburg, Bristol Zoological Society and Veterinary Clinic Gessertshausen
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Equine veterinary journal | Year: 2016
Captive breeding has played a crucial role in the conservation of threatened equid species. Grazing ruminants and rhinoceros in captivity have less abrasion-dominated tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics, with potential negative consequences for their health. However, a similar study on wild equids in captivity is missing.The aim was to establish if different tooth wear patterns are exhibited by free-ranging and captive equids.Cross-sectional study of museum specimens comparing free-ranging and captive equids.Dental casts of maxillary cheek teeth of 228 museum specimens (122 from free-ranging and 106 from captive individuals) of 7 wild equid species were analysed using the extended mesowear method. Although teeth showing specific abnormalities were not scored, the presence of focal overgrowths (hooks) of the rostral premolars (106, 206) was recorded.Captive Equus ferus przewalskii, E.grevyi, E.hemionus, E.quagga boehmi and E.zebra hartmannae have less abrasion-dominated tooth wear on their premolars than their free-ranging conspecifics (P<0.001). Fewer differences were exhibited between populations in the molars. No differences were exhibited in the distal cusp of the molars (110, 210) between populations, except in a small sample of E.kiang. Captive equids exhibited more homogeneous wear along the tooth row whereas free-ranging equids exhibited a tooth wear gradient, with more abrasion on premolars than molars. There were more rostral hooks on the premolars (106, 206) in the captive than the free-ranging population (P = 0.02).Captive equids did experience less abrasion-dominated tooth wear than their free-ranging conspecifics, but the differences in tooth wear were less pronounced than those between captive and free-ranging wild ruminant and rhinoceros species. This indicates that feeding regimes for captive equids deviate less from natural diets than those for captive ruminants and rhinoceros but that factors leading to hook formation, in particular feeding height, should receive special attention. The Summary is available in Chinese - see Supporting information.
Blake M.,Aberystwyth University |
McKeown N.J.,Aberystwyth University |
Bushell M.L.T.,Bristol Zoological Society |
Shaw P.W.,Aberystwyth University
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2016
Many spider species produce webs that represent a potential non-invasive source of DNA for conservation genetic analysis. Reported here is the successful isolation of target DNA from members of two families (Theraphosidae and Pholcidae) using a standard CTAB phenol–chloroform–isoamyl protocol. The isolated DNA was of sufficient quality to permit routine PCR amplification and sequencing of mtDNA COI fragments of various sizes (maximum 710 bp attempted). This adds to other studies in demonstrating that webbing offers an excellent resource for genetic studies of spiders across families. Applications of the technique include species identification and monitoring, faunistic surveys, population connectivity, subpopulation structuring, and ex situ breeding programs. © 2016, The Author(s).
Hampson M.C.,Bristol Zoological Society |
Hampson M.C.,University of Bristol |
Schwitzer C.S.,Bristol Zoological Society
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016
Species Survival Plans and European Endangered Species Programmes have been developed for several species of endangered felids in order to build up captive reserve populations and support their conservation in the wild. The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), snow leopard (Uncia uncia), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) are managed in such ex situ conservation programmes. Many zoological institutions hand-rear offspring if rearing by the mother fails. Hand-rearing can cause behavioural problems, resulting in decreased copulation and lower breeding success in some species. In this study, studbook data subsets were examined: from 1901 to 2011; and 2000 to 2011. We analysed records from 4273 Siberian tigers, 2045 snow leopards, 3435 cheetahs, and 804 clouded leopards. We assessed the number of offspring produced, litter size, age at first reproduction, longevity, infant mortality and generational rearing of hand-reared versus parent-reared individuals. Hand-reared Siberian tigers (p<0.01; p = 0.0113), snow leopards (p<0.01), male cheetahs (p<0.01) and female clouded leopards (p<0.01) produced fewer offspring than parent-reared individuals. Hand-reared snow leopard breeding pairs had larger litters than parent-reared pairs (p = 0.0404). Hand-reared snow leopard females reproduced later in life (p<0.01). Hand-reared female Siberian tigers lived shorter lives, while hand-reared cheetahs lived longer (p<0.01; p = 0.0107). Infant mortality was higher in hand-reared snow leopards (p<0.01) and male cheetahs (p = 0.0395) in the 1901-2011 dataset and lower in hand-reared female Siberian tiger and male snow leopard cubs (p = 0.0404; p = 0.0349) in the 2000-2011 dataset. The rearing of the mother and subsequent rearing of offspring showed a significant relationship for all species (p<0.01 for Siberian tiger and snow leopard cubs; p<0.001 for cheetah and snow leopard cubs). Taking into account the limited carrying capacity of zoos, the results of this study highlight that careful consideration should be taken when deciding whether or not to hand-rear individuals that are part of Species Survival Plans and European Endangered Species Programmes. © 2016 Hampson, Schwitzer.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.