Tacoma, WA, United States
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Henson L.H.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Henson L.H.,George Mason University | Songsasen N.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Waddell W.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | And 5 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2017

Characterizing Toll-like receptors across taxa can lead to an increasingly accurate documentation of the evolutionary processes acting within this receptor class, as well as a greater understanding of the diseases associated with these receptors. This study examines 2 sequenced portions of the Toll-like receptor 5 (TLRS5) protein coding gene in 2 imperiled canid species: the Near Threatened maned wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus and the Critically Endangered red wolf Canis rufus, to characterize genetic variation and investigate the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) previously associated with canine inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Both maned and red wolves suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, threatening the sustainability of their crucial ex situ populations. Here we report novel polymorphic positions found in maned and red wolf TLR5, differences in variation with regard to nucleotide polymorphisms and resulting amino acid variation among maned wolves, red wolves, gray wolves and domestic dogs. Domestic dog SNPs associated with IBD were not found to be polymorphic in maned wolves and red wolves. Samples of both focal species and gray wolves lack the protective alleles present in many dog breeds, suggesting a potential genetic predisposition for IBD in these 2 wild canid species and a possible development of these protective alleles post domestication. This potential predisposition informs ex situ management practices and treatment for IBD. © Outside the USA the US Government 2017.


Lockyear K.M.,Health Unit | MacDonald S.E.,York University | Waddell W.T.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Goodrowe K.L.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Theriogenology | Year: 2016

An evaluation of a large database of red wolf fresh ejaculate characteristics (n = 427 ejaculates from 64 wolves) was undertaken to increase knowledge of seminal characteristics in the red wolf and evaluate possible relationships between inbreeding, age, and seminal quality. Phase microscopy analysis of electroejaculates collected over 14 natural breeding seasons was compared with animal ages and inbreeding coefficients. Ejaculate volume increased and sperm concentration and total count decreased as wolves aged (P < 0.01, 0.001, and 0.05, respectively), and the proportion of sperm cell morphological abnormalities was greater in animals with higher coefficients of inbreeding (P < 0.001), particularly for older animals (P < 0.001). Moreover, the mean coefficient of inbreeding of animals that had failed to reproduce given at least one opportunity during their lifetimes was significantly greater than that of wolves with proven fertility, and wolves of proven fertility exhibited higher sperm concentrations and total counts than nonproven wolves. Thus, as the captive red wolf population becomes more inbred, the maximum age of reproduction is likely to decrease; an important finding to consider when projecting population dynamics and determining pairing recommendations. © 2016 Elsevier Inc.


PubMed | York University, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and Health Unit
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Theriogenology | Year: 2016

An evaluation of a large database of red wolf fresh ejaculate characteristics (n=427 ejaculates from 64 wolves) was undertaken to increase knowledge of seminal characteristics in the red wolf and evaluate possible relationships between inbreeding, age, and seminal quality. Phase microscopy analysis of electroejaculates collected over 14 natural breeding seasons was compared with animal ages and inbreeding coefficients. Ejaculate volume increased and sperm concentration and total count decreased as wolves aged (P<0.01, 0.001, and 0.05, respectively), and the proportion of sperm cell morphological abnormalities was greater in animals with higher coefficients of inbreeding (P<0.001), particularly for older animals (P<0.001). Moreover, the mean coefficient of inbreeding of animals that had failed to reproduce given at least one opportunity during their lifetimes was significantly greater than that of wolves with proven fertility, and wolves of proven fertility exhibited higher sperm concentrations and total counts than nonproven wolves. Thus, as the captive red wolf population becomes more inbred, the maximum age of reproduction is likely to decrease; an important finding to consider when projecting population dynamics and determining pairing recommendations.


Saunders S.P.,University of Minnesota | Harris T.,Apple Inc | Traylor-Holzer K.,Apple Inc | Beck K.G.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Animal Reproduction Science | Year: 2014

Understanding factors that influence reproduction and offspring survival in zoo populations is critical for management of threatened and endangered species. Examination of long-term data (1989-2011) compiled from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's zoo-managed tiger breeding program provides the basis for a more thorough understanding of reproduction and scientifically based decisions for effective population management in this endangered felid. Biological and management-related factors that could influence tiger breeding success and cub survival were evaluated using logistic mixed models. Breeding success improved with female age until approximately age five, then declined thereafter. Experienced female breeders had greater breeding success than inexperienced females. Litter size was most predictive of cub survival, with average-sized litters (3-4 cubs) experiencing the highest proportional survival. Management-related factors, such as whether the breeding institution had a recent tiger litter and whether both animals were already located at the same institution, also influenced breeding success and cub survival. These results highlight the importance of institutional husbandry experience and the need to retain knowledge through staff turnovers to achieve optimal reproductive success. Using fecal estrogen data, frequency of ovarian cyclicity and mean cycle length did not differ by female age or parity; thus, lack of cyclicity and/or increased cycle duration are not likely explanations for declining breeding success with age. These results provide valuable reproductive information that should improve scientific management of zoo-based tiger populations. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Brzeski K.E.,Louisiana State University | Harrison R.B.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Waddell W.T.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Wolf K.N.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2015

Infectious diseases pose a significant threat to global biodiversity and may contribute to extinction. As such, establishing baseline disease prevalence in vulnerable species where disease could affect persistence is important to conservation. We assessed potential disease threats to endangered red wolves (Canis rufus) by evaluating regional (southeastern United States) disease occurrences in mammals and parasite prevalence in red wolves and sympatric coyotes (Canis latrans) in North Carolina. Common viral pathogens in the southeast region, such as canine distemper and canine parvovirus, and numerous widespread endoparasites could pose a threat to the red Wolf population. The most prevalent parasites in red wolves and sympatric coyotes were heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis), hookworm (Ancylostoma caninum), and Ehrlichia spp.; several red wolves and coyotes were also positive for bacteria causing Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). Coyotes had a more species-rich parasite community than red wolves, suggesting they could harbor more parasites and act as a disease reservoir. Species identity and sex did not significantly affect parasite loads, but young canids were less likely to have heartworm and more likely to have high levels of endoparasites. Continued disease monitoring is important for red Wolf recovery because low levels of genetic variability may compromise the wolves' abilities to combat novel pathogens from closely related species, such as domestic dogs and coyotes. © 2015 American Society of Mammalogists.


Rabon Jr. D.R.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Rabon Jr. D.R.,North Carolina State University | Waddell W.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Zoo Biology | Year: 2010

Captive-breeding programs have been widely used in the conservation of imperiled species, but the effects of inbreeding, frequently expressed in traits related to fitness, are nearly unavoidable in small populations with few founders. Following its planned extirpation in the wild, the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) was preserved in captivity with just 14 founders. In this study, we evaluated the captive red wolf population for relationships between inbreeding and reproductive performance and fitness. Over 30 years of managed breeding, the level of inbreeding in the captive population has increased, and litter size has declined. Inbreeding levels were lower in sire and dam wolves that reproduced than in those that did not reproduce. However, there was no difference in the inbreeding level of actual litters and predicted litters. Litter size was negatively affected by offspring and paternal levels of inbreeding, but the effect of inbreeding on offspring survival was restricted to a positive influence. There was no apparent relationship between inbreeding and method of rearing offspring. The observable effects of inbreeding in the captive red wolf population currently do not appear to be a limiting factor in the conservation of the red wolf population. Additional studies exploring the extent of the effects of inbreeding will be required as inbreeding levels increase in the captive population. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Deagle B.E.,Australian Antarctic Division | Thomas A.C.,University of British Columbia | Shaffer A.K.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Trites A.W.,University of British Columbia | Jarman S.N.,Australian Antarctic Division
Molecular Ecology Resources | Year: 2013

A goal of many environmental DNA barcoding studies is to infer quantitative information about relative abundances of different taxa based on sequence read proportions generated by high-throughput sequencing. However, potential biases associated with this approach are only beginning to be examined. We sequenced DNA amplified from faeces (scats) of captive harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) to investigate whether sequence counts could be used to quantify the seals' diet. Seals were fed fish in fixed proportions, a chordate-specific mitochondrial 16S marker was amplified from scat DNA and amplicons sequenced using an Ion Torrent PGM™. For a given set of bioinformatic parameters, there was generally low variability between scat samples in proportions of prey species sequences recovered. However, proportions varied substantially depending on sequencing direction, level of quality filtering (due to differences in sequence quality between species) and minimum read length considered. Short primer tags used to identify individual samples also influenced species proportions. In addition, there were complex interactions between factors; for example, the effect of quality filtering was influenced by the primer tag and sequencing direction. Resequencing of a subset of samples revealed some, but not all, biases were consistent between runs. Less stringent data filtering (based on quality scores or read length) generally produced more consistent proportional data, but overall proportions of sequences were very different than dietary mass proportions, indicating additional technical or biological biases are present. Our findings highlight that quantitative interpretations of sequence proportions generated via high-throughput sequencing will require careful experimental design and thoughtful data analysis. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Noren S.R.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Udevitz M.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Triggs L.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Paschke J.,Six Flags Discovery Kingdom | And 2 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2015

Pacific walruses may be unable to meet caloric requirements in the changing Arctic ecosystem, which could affect body condition and have population-level consequences. Body condition has historically been monitored by measuring blubber thickness over the xiphoid process (sternum). This may be an unreliable condition index because blubber at other sites along the body may be preferentially targeted to balance energetic demands. Animals in aquaria provided an opportunity for controlled study of how blubber topography is altered by caloric intake. Morphology, body mass, blubber thickness (21 sites), and caloric intake of five mature, nonpregnant, nonlactating female walruses were measured monthly (12 month minimum). Body condition (mass × standard length-1) was described by a model that included caloric intake and a seasonal effect, and scaled positively with estimates of total blubber mass. Blubber thicknesses (1.91-10.69 cm) varied topographically and were similar to values reported for free-ranging female walruses. Body condition was most closely related to blubber thickness measured dorsomedially in the region of the anterior insertion of the pectoral flippers (shoulders); sternum blubber thickness was a relatively poor indicator of condition. This study demonstrates the importance of validating condition metrics before using them to monitor free-ranging populations. © Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.


Seeley K.E.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Seeley K.E.,Ohio State University | Garner M.M.,Northwest ZooPath | Waddell W.T.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Wolf K.N.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2016

Conservation efforts to preserve the red wolf (Canis rufus) have been in progress since the 1970s through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program and the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. An ongoing part of this project has been to monitor mortality trends, particularly to look for potential genetic conditions resulting from inbreeding given the small founding population of only 14 individuals. An initial survey was conducted in the 1990s but a comprehensive assessment of the population has not been done since then. This retrospective review evaluates mortality in the population from 1997 to 2012 through analysis of gross necropsy and histology records provided by cooperating institutions that housed red wolves during the time period of interest. Of the 378 red wolves that died during this 15-yr period, 259 animals had gross necropsy records, histology records, or both that were evaluated. The major causes of neonatal death were parental trauma, stillbirth, or pneumonia. Overall, juveniles had very low mortality rates with only 12 wolves aged 30 days to 6 mo dying during the study period. The most common cause of death within the adult populations was neoplasia, with epithelial neoplasms, carcinomas, and adenocarcinomas being the most common types reported. Gastrointestinal disease was the second most common cause of death, particularly gastric dilation and volvulus, inflammatory bowel disease, and gastrointestinal perforations. These findings are in stark contrast to causes of mortality in the wild population, which are primarily due to human-related activities such as vehicular trauma, gunshot, or poisoning. Overall, the captive population has few health problems, but an increase in inflammatory bowel disease in particular warrants further investigation. © Copyright 2016 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Anderson K.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium | Wolf K.N.,Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2013

Pyometra is a serious, life-threatening disease of both domestic and non-domestic species often requiring ovariohysterectomy to preserve the life of the animal. Medical management of pyometra has been successful in domestic and non-domestic species, and the consideration of such treatment is of marked importance in a critically endangered species. Of the canids, the red wolf (Canis rufus) is second only to African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus) in terms of the prevalence of both cystic endometrial hyperplasia and pyometra. In this report, three red wolves were medically managed for pyometra. Aside from vaginal discharge, none of the wolves exhibited clinical signs, nor were there reflective inflammatory changes in the laboratory findings. All wolves received standard treatment for pyometra, including prostaglandin F2α and antibiotic therapy, while one wolf was more aggressively managed with uterine lavage. Pyometra recurred in two of the treated wolves, while the most aggressively managed wolf continues to show ultrasonographic resolution 2 yr posttreatment. Aggressive medical management of pyometra should be considered a treatment option in certain red wolf females, as it may preserve the animal's reproductive potential. Copyright 2013 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

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