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Front Royal, VA, United States

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution located on a 3,200-acre campus located just outside the historic town of Front Royal, Virginia. An extension of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the SCBI has played a leading role in the fields of veterinary medicine, reproductive physiology and conservation biology since its founding in 1974.Previously named the Conservation and Research Center, the CRC became known as the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in 2010 as a symbol of its growing independence from the captive animals associated with the traditional images of zoos. Wikipedia.

O'Malley R.C.,George Washington University | Power M.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2014

Insectivory is hypothesized to be an important source of macronutrients, minerals, and vitamins for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), yet nutritional data based on actual intake are lacking. Drawing on observations from 2008 to 2010 and recently published nutritional assays, we determined the energy, macronutrient and mineral yields for termite-fishing (Macrotermes), ant-dipping (Dorylus), and ant-fishing (Camponotus) by the Kasekela chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. We also estimated the yields from consumption of weaver ants (Oecophylla) and termite alates (Macrotermes and Pseudacanthotermes). On days when chimpanzees were observed to prey on insects, the time spent in insectivorous behavior ranged from <1min to over 4h. After excluding partial bouts and those of <1min duration, ant-dipping bouts were of significantly shorter duration than the other two forms of tool-assisted insectivory but provided the highest mass intake rate. Termite-fishing bouts were of significantly longer duration than ant-dipping and had a lower mass intake rate, but provided higher mean and maximum mass yields. Ant-fishing bouts were comparable to termite-fishing bouts in duration but had significantly lower mass intake rates. Mean and maximum all-day yields from termite-fishing and ant-dipping contributed to or met estimated recommended intake (ERI) values for a broad array of minerals. The mean and maximum all-day yields of other insects consistently contributed to the ERI only for manganese. All forms of insectivory provided small but probably non-trivial amounts of fat and protein. We conclude that different forms of insectivory have the potential to address different nutritional needs for Kasekela chimpanzees. Other than honeybees, insects have received little attention as potential foods for hominins. Our results suggest that ants and (on a seasonal basis) termites would have been viable sources of fat, high-quality protein and minerals for extinct hominins employing Pan-like subsistence technology in East African woodlands. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Brown J.L.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Animal Reproduction Science | Year: 2011

Many felid species are endangered because of destructive human activities. As a result, zoos are being tasked with sustaining genetically healthy populations in case of catastrophic extinctions. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few species, most felids do not reproduce well in captivity. The ability to track reproductive activity via hormones is key to developing successful ex situ breeding programs. Through the development of noninvasive fecal hormone monitoring techniques, a high degree of variability in estrous cycle characteristics has been found to exist across the taxon, including the type of ovulation. For example, although all felids have induced ovulations, the occurrence of spontaneous ovulations varies across species, and even between individuals within a species. Clouded leopards, fishing cats and margays frequently have spontaneous ovulations, whereas these are rarely observed in the cheetah, tigrina and ocelot. There are marked species differences in the impact of season on reproductive function, with some being exquisitely sensitive to photoperiod (e.g., Pallas' cat), some moderately affected (tiger, clouded leopard, snow leopard), and others that are not influenced at all (e.g., ocelot, tigrina, margay, lion, leopard, fishing cat). One of the greatest challenges remaining is overcoming the problems associated with highly variable ovarian responses to ovulation induction therapies used with assisted reproductive procedures, like artificial insemination (AI). Success is relatively high in the cheetah and ocelot, but few pregnancies have resulted after AI in clouded leopard, fishing cat and tiger. Current knowledge of the reproductive physiology of nondomestic felids, including aspects of the anatomy, behavior and ovarian cycles will be presented, and how the rapidly growing endocrine database is aiding ex situ management efforts. © 2010.

Pukazhenthi B.S.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Reproduction, Fertility and Development | Year: 2016

Wild ungulates throughout the world face the impending risk of extinction. Small founding population size, lack of interest in exhibiting wild ungulates and declining space in zoos are not sustaining ex situ populations. Animals managed in ex situ collections continue to experience >20% neonate loss globally. To ensure population sustainability there is a critical need to: (1) manage ungulates in large herds, increasing mate choice and reproductive efficiency; (2) improve husbandry and genetic management; and (3) develop consistent assisted reproductive technologies, including sperm cryopreservation and AI. Recently, new models in the management of ungulates have begun to emerge. Animal managers and researchers are also beginning to exploit advances in genomics to improve genetic management of their collections. Furthermore, the past decade has witnessed significant advances particularly in semen collection and cryopreservation in numerous species. Advances in gonadal tissue cryopreservation now offer additional opportunities to preserve male genomes. The new knowledge generated is enabling the creation of genetic (sperm) banks to rescue and enhance reproductive management of wild ungulates. The present paper reviews the threats to ungulate populations, the status and relevance of animal management and biomaterial banking efforts to ensure long-term survival of these charismatic species. © CSIRO 2016.

Robertson B.A.,Bard College | Robertson B.A.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Rehage J.S.,Florida International University | Sih A.,University of California at Davis
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC; e.g., climate change or exotic species) has caused global species declines. Although behavioral plasticity has buffered some species against HIREC, maladaptive behavioral scenarios called 'evolutionary traps' are increasingly common, threatening the persistence of affected species. Here, we review examples of evolutionary traps to identify their anthropogenic causes, behavioral mechanisms, and evolutionary bases, and to better forecast forms of HIREC liable to trigger traps. We summarize a conceptual framework for explaining the susceptibility of animals to traps that integrates the cost-benefit approach of standard behavioral ecology with an evolutionary approach (reaction norms) to understanding cue-response systems (signal detection). Finally, we suggest that a significant revision of conceptual thinking in wildlife conservation and management is needed to effectively eliminate and mitigate evolutionary traps. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Sharma S.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Understanding the patterns of gene flow of an endangered species metapopulation occupying a fragmented habitat is crucial for landscape-level conservation planning and devising effective conservation strategies. Tigers (Panthera tigris) are globally endangered and their populations are highly fragmented and exist in a few isolated metapopulations across their range. We used multi-locus genotypic data from 273 individual tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) from four tiger populations of the Satpura-Maikal landscape of central India to determine whether the corridors in this landscape are functional. This 45 000 km(2) landscape contains 17% of India's tiger population and 12% of its tiger habitat. We applied Bayesian and coalescent-based analyses to estimate contemporary and historical gene flow among these populations and to infer their evolutionary history. We found that the tiger metapopulation in central India has high rates of historical and contemporary gene flow. The tests for population history reveal that tigers populated central India about 10 000 years ago. Their population subdivision began about 1000 years ago and accelerated about 200 years ago owing to habitat fragmentation, leading to four spatially separated populations. These four populations have been in migration-drift equilibrium maintained by high gene flow. We found the highest rates of contemporary gene flow in populations that are connected by forest corridors. This information is highly relevant to conservation practitioners and policy makers, because deforestation, road widening and mining are imminent threats to these corridors.

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