North of England Zoological Society

Chester, United Kingdom

North of England Zoological Society

Chester, United Kingdom
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Yarnell K.,Nottingham Trent University | Hall C.,Nottingham Trent University | Royle C.,Nottingham Trent University | Walker S.L.,North of England Zoological Society
Physiology and Behavior | Year: 2015

The predominant housing system used for domestic horses is individual stabling; however, housing that limits social interaction and requires the horse to live in semi-isolation has been reported to be a concern for equine welfare. The aim of the current study was to compare behavioural and physiological responses of domestic horses in different types of housing design that provided varying levels of social contact. Horses (n. =. 16) were divided equally into four groups and exposed to each of four housing treatments for a period of five days per treatment in a randomized block design. The four housing treatments used were single housed no physical contact (SHNC), single housed semi-contact (SHSC), paired housed full contact (PHFC) and group housed full contact (GHFC). During each housing treatment, adrenal activity was recorded using non-invasive faecal corticosterone metabolite analysis (fGC). Thermal images of the eye were captured and eye temperature was assessed as a non-invasive measure of the stress response. Behavioural analysis of time budget was carried out and an ease of handling score was assigned to each horse in each treatment using video footage. SHNC horses had significantly higher (p. =. 0.01) concentrations of fGC and were significantly (p. =. 0.003) more difficult to handle compared to the other housing types. GHFC horses, although not significantly different, had numerically lower concentrations of fGC and were more compliant to handling when compared to all other housing treatments. Eye temperature was significantly (p. =. 0.0001) lower in the group housed treatment when compared to all other treatments. These results indicate that based on physiological and behavioural measures incorporating social contact into the housing design of domestic horses could improve the standard of domestic equine welfare. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


Watson R.,North of England Zoological Society | Watson R.,University of Glasgow | Munro C.,University of California at Davis | Edwards K.L.,North of England Zoological Society | And 4 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2013

Endocrinology is a useful tool for conservation biologists and animal managers, and measuring glucocorticoids can help understand biological mechanisms associated with species decline and animal welfare. The current study describes the development and optimization of a glucocorticoid enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to non-invasively assess adrenal activity in a variety of taxa. The antiserum (CJM006) was raised in rabbits to a corticosterone-3-CMO-BSA immunogen and used in a standard competitive EIA system. However, the EIA initially produced results with unacceptably high inter-assay variation, attributed to consistent patterns observed within the optical density of developing plates. To determine the cause of this variability, a number of factors were examined using synthetic corticosterone standard and endogenous faecal extract, including: plate type (Nunc MaxiSorp® II versus Immulon IB plates); the use of non-specific secondary antibody; type (artificial versus natural) and presence (light versus dark) of light during incubation; plate loading temperature (4 °C versus room temperature); and substrate reagent temperature (4 °C versus room temperature). Results indicated that variability was associated with plate location effects, which were not initially detected because control samples were always run in the same positions across plates. Light and temperature were the two major factors that affected EIA reliability. For this assay, the standard protocol required slight modification, with the optimal protocol using Nunc MaxiSorp® plates, room temperature substrate reagents and dark incubation conditions. Following optimization, this EIA was then validated biochemically for 38 species, through parallel displacement curves and interference assessment tests of faecal and urine samples. Additionally, biological validation was performed opportunistically in a subset of species, with use of this EIA demonstrating significant elevations in faecal glucocorticoid metabolites following potentially challenging events. In summary, this glucocorticoid EIA cross-reacts with excreted glucocorticoid metabolites across a wide range of taxa, including ungulates, primates, felids, birds, rodents and amphibians. We conclude that when used with optimal reagent and incubation conditions, this EIA will be useful for non-invasive monitoring of adrenal activity in a wide range of wildlife species. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Edwards K.L.,University of Liverpool | Walker S.L.,North of England Zoological Society | Bodenham R.F.,University of Liverpool | Ritchie H.,Thermo Fisher Scientific | And 2 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2013

Faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations have been used to evaluate adrenal activity in a variety of species; including as an indicator of the physiological response to social stress. However, across studies, the relationships between dominance rank, social behaviours and adrenal responses can be inconsistent. Differences in the relationship between rank and glucocorticoids may be due to the relative costs of social status, and the relative frequencies of social stressors and potential coping mechanisms. However, the differences in observed relationships between specific social behaviours and glucocorticoids may be partly explained by sampling frequency, as studies often use average fGCM concentrations collected over a period of weeks or months, rather than fGCM concentrations that are temporally-matched with behavioural data. In this study, we directly compared long-term average and temporally-matched data to determine whether particular social behaviours were related to adrenal activity in female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) at Trentham Monkey Forest, UK; and whether observed relationships were consistent using these two approaches. Average rates of autogrooming were positively correlated with average fGCM; however, this relationship was not robust in temporally-matched samples. Instead, specific social behaviours associated with agonism were associated with fGCM in temporally-matched samples within individuals. These results indicate that analyses of relationships using long-term average fGCM and temporally-matched samples do not necessarily provide comparable results, highlighting that study design is critical in determining associations between an individual's social behaviour and the relative physiological costs involved. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.


Edwards K.L.,University of Liverpool | Shultz S.,University of Manchester | Pilgrim M.,North of England Zoological Society | Walker S.L.,North of England Zoological Society
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2015

Among natural populations of polygynous species, males often vary in their lifetime reproductive success. However, in managed populations of endangered species, either in situ or as part of captive breeding programmes, it is important to understand why differences in reproductive success occur. The European captive population of the critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros is currently under-performing relative to their wild counterparts, with low reproductive output and high reproductive skew limiting growth and genetic diversity. To investigate why over 40% of captive males fail to breed, faecal samples were collected weekly from 23 males at 12 institutions across Europe for 4-32. months. Testosterone metabolite concentration was compared between proven and non-proven males and a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that could influence reproductive success were also investigated. Males that sired within the last 31/2. years had significantly higher androgen concentrations than non-proven males, and average testosterone was positively correlated with the number of offspring sired per year spent in the reproductive age class. Proven and non-proven males did not differ in their body condition, or in average faecal glucocorticoid concentration. Differences in individual temperament were associated with adrenal activity, but did not correlate with reproductive category. Highest testosterone concentrations were observed in proven males that were housed with females during oestrus, and lowest concentrations in non-proven females not housed with females at all during the study period. Further work is necessary to determine whether proven males had higher testosterone due to underlying differences associated with quality, or whether external stimuli such as access to females could influence testosterone concentration and increase a male's chances of becoming a successful breeder. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


Edwards K.L.,University of Liverpool | Shultz S.,University of Manchester | Pilgrim M.,North of England Zoological Society | Walker S.L.,North of England Zoological Society
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2015

Ex situ populations of endangered species such as the black rhinoceros play an important role in global conservation strategies. However, the European captive population of eastern black rhinoceros is performing sub-optimally, with growth rates and genetic viability limited by low birth rates and high reproductive skew. We investigated several intrinsic differences between parous and nulliparous females that may underlie differences in reproductive success, including ovarian cyclicity, adrenal activity, behaviour and body condition. Faecal samples were collected from 39 females (17 parous, 15 nulliparous and 7 pre-reproductive) at 11 zoological institutions, every other day for between 4. months and 6. years. Progestagen metabolite concentration indicated that although all non-pregnant females exhibited ovarian activity, irregular cyclicity was common. Longer cycles (>40. days) were more common in nulliparous females and periods of acyclicity observed more often in females that had not bred for at least 7. years. Even when endocrine data indicated clear ovarian activity, overt behavioural signs of oestrus were not always apparent, particularly among nulliparous females. Faecal glucocorticoids did not differ between parous and nulliparous females, although did differ according to individual temperament. More unpredictable temperaments were associated with higher glucocorticoids, and nulliparous females tended to be rated as more unpredictable. Finally, nulliparous females had higher body condition scores than parous females. This is the first comprehensive survey of the reproductive physiology of this European captive population, and highlights a number of intrinsic differences related to parity, which may underlie differences in reproductive success among captive female black rhinoceros. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Ogilvy V.,University of Manchester | Fidgett A.L.,North of England Zoological Society | Preziosi R.F.,University of Manchester
Zoo Biology | Year: 2012

There are a limited number of feeder-invertebrates available to feed captive insectivores, and many are deficient in certain nutrients. Gut-loading is used to increase the diversity of nutrients present in the captive insectivore diet; however, little is known about delivery of carotenoids via gut-loading. Carotenoids may influence health and reproduction due to their roles in immune and antioxidant systems. We assessed interspecific variation in carotenoid accumulation and retention in three feeder-cricket species (Gryllus bimaculatus, Gryllodes sigillatus and Acheta domesticus) fed one of three diets (wheat-bran, fish-food based formulated diet, and fresh fruit and vegetables). Out of the three species of feeder-cricket in the fish-food-based dietary treatment group, G. bimaculatus had the greatest total carotenoid concentration. All cricket species fed the wheat-bran diet had very low carotenoid concentrations. Species on the fish-food-based diet had intermediate carotenoid concentrations, and those on the fruit and vegetable diet had the highest concentrations. Carotenoid retention was poor across all species. Overall, this study shows that, by providing captive insectivores with G. bimaculatus crickets recently fed a carotenoid-rich diet, the quantity of carotenoids in the diet can be increased. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Rawson D.M.,University of Bedfordshire | Mcgregor Reid G.,North of England Zoological Society | Lloyd R.E.,UK Institute of Zoology
International Zoo Yearbook | Year: 2011

The conservation benefits of cryopreserving cells and tissues from species at risk are well illustrated in the case of fishes and amphibians. These are the most threatened vertebrate groups worldwide, with over 30% of species so far assessed being listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Cryopreservation technologies now provide opportunities for the long-term storage in cryobanks of cells and tissues from these lower vertebrate taxa. Material maintained in cryobanks can be used to complement other in situ and ex situ conservation approaches. Cryobanks have been established in the United Kingdom for fishes and amphibians, drawing on specimens from zoos and aquariums, and also specimens collected in the field. Cryobanked material has to be of the highest quality to enable future exploitation in such areas as genomics, proteomics and managed breeding programmes. Currently, these cryobanks can hold viable sperm in the form of testes macerates, and material suitable for long-chain DNA mapping and cell-culturing, from somatic tissue and embryos. Successful cryobanking procedures are described here in detail. Viable oocytes and embryos have not yet been cryopreserved for fishes or amphibians. Hence, this is currently a key research area, which, if it delivers viable products for these taxa, would potentially bring major conservation and research benefits. © 2010 The Authors. International Zoo Yearbook © 2010 The Zoological Society of London.


Esson M.,North of England Zoological Society | Moss A.,North of England Zoological Society
Journal of Environmental Education | Year: 2013

One of the roles of the modern zoo is to provide environmental education. Zoo visitation comprises primarily family groups seeking to spend time together. There is potential for tension between message and audience expectation as zoos seek to raise awareness of the effects of irresponsible human behavior on the environment. This may unsettle family visitors. This study explored levels of tolerance of the zoo audience to a disturbing exhibition covering broad environmental themes. Results showed that participants were prepared to reflect on the content and at times feelings were sufficiently strong for zoo visitors to challenge one another's beliefs. The delicate positioning of zoos as environmental education providers is discussed. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Chartier L.,University of Oxford | Zimmermann A.,North of England Zoological Society | Zimmermann A.,University of Oxford | Ladle R.J.,University of Oxford
ORYX | Year: 2011

Human-elephant conflict in India, driven by habitat loss and an expanding human population, is a complex challenge for biodiversity conservation. Determining if, how and why this conflict has changed over time will be an important step towards managing landscapes where people and elephants Elephas maximus coexist. This study combines social surveys and remote sensing data to analyse patterns in human-elephant conflict and land-use change over time. The reported experience of conflict increased dramatically in the early 1980s, with 85% of those surveyed indicating that conflict began after 1980. The expansion of conflict showed a significant southward trend and was associated with forest cover dropping below 30-40%. Based on our results we propose that a critical habitat threshold for human-elephant conflict may exist at 30-40% forest cover. Below this level, conflict expanded across the landscape. The existence of such a deforestation threshold may have important implications for landscape management in elephant range states that seek to avoid or mitigate further conflict. Maintenance of remaining forest areas, reforestation, and the creation of habitat corridors are strategies that could help prevent further expansion of conflict. © 2011 Fauna & Flora International.


Ogilvy V.,University of Manchester | Preziosi R.F.,University of Manchester | Fidgett A.L.,North of England Zoological Society
Animal Conservation | Year: 2012

Ex situ conservation is an important tool for the prevention of species extinction in amphibians. Currently, there is limited information on the nutritional requirements of amphibians in captivity, and there have been anecdotal reports of skin colour degradation in captive amphibians. Amphibians use carotenoids for skin pigmentation, and because carotenoids are only obtainable through the diet, colour degradation could result from limited carotenoid availability. Studies of other vertebrate taxa have shown that carotenoids contribute to health and reproductive success; however, their importance to amphibians is currently unknown. We assessed the influence of carotenoids on the health and development of red-eye tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) during larval and post-metamorphic stages, and looked at effects on skin colour and reproductive success. Carry-over effects of larval exposure to carotenoids were also investigated, and the effects of carotenoids on skin colour development and degradation in adulthood were examined. Carotenoids did not significantly influence larval growth or survival; however, post-metamorphic carotenoid availability significantly increased growth rate in female but not in male frogs. Frogs fed a carotenoid diet post-metamorphosis had significantly redder skin than controls, and larval carotenoid exposure significantly influenced post-metamorphic skin colour. Fecundity was significantly higher in female frogs raised on a carotenoid diet post-metamorphosis compared with controls. Finally, skin colour did not change in adulthood despite changes in dietary carotenoid availability, which suggests that there is a critical period during post-metamorphic growth for deposition of carotenoids in the skin. We have shown that carotenoids influence the development, phenotype and reproductive success of A.callidryas, and these important nutrients should therefore be considered when nutritional recommendations for amphibians are made. © 2012 The Zoological Society of London.

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