Smithsonians National Zoological Park

Washington, DC, United States

Smithsonians National Zoological Park

Washington, DC, United States
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Parrish A.E.,Georgia State University | Perdue B.M.,Agnes Scott College | Stromberg E.E.,Smithsonians National Zoological Park | Bania A.E.,Smithsonians National Zoological Park | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Comparative Psychology | Year: 2014

There is considerable evidence indicating that chimpanzees can delay gratification for extended time intervals, particularly in the accumulation task in which food items accumulate within a participant's reach until the participant begins to consume them. However, there is limited evidence that other ape species might also exhibit this capacity, despite there being a number of similar studies indicating that nonape species (e.g., monkeys and birds) can delay gratification, but not for nearly as long as chimpanzees. To help define the taxonomic distribution of delay of gratification behavior in the order Primates, we tested 6 orangutans in the current experiments and compared their performance with comparable data from a previous study with capuchin monkeys. We varied delay length and visibility of the items that were still available for accumulation to determine the impact of these factors on performance. Species differences on the accumulation task emerged when comparing the current data to data from a previous study. Orangutans outperformed capuchin monkeys, suggesting that ape species may generally show better delay of gratification and delay maintenance abilities than monkeys. However, more studies are necessary to rule out alternative hypotheses on the distribution of delay maintenance abilities across primate species. © 2014 American Psychological Association.


Comizzoli P.,Veterinary Hospital | Songsasen N.,Smithsonians National Zoological Park | Wildt D.E.,Center for Species Survival
Cancer Treatment and Research | Year: 2010

Sustaining viable populations of any wildlife species requires a combination of adequate habitat protection and a good understanding of environmental and biological factors (including reproductive mechanisms) that ensure species survival. Thousands of species are under threat of extinction due to habitat loss/degradation, over-exploitation, pollution, disease, alien species invasions and urban sprawl. This has served as incentive for intensive management of animal populations, both ex situ (in captivity) and in situ (living in nature). Assisted reproductive technologies developed for addressing human infertility and enhancing livestock production have shown encouraging promise in a few wildlife species. However, species-specific physiological variations and a lack of fundamental knowledge have limited how these tools can be used to help rapidly re-build endangered species numbers. Despite limitations, there is enormous potential in applying human-related fertility preservation strategies to wild animals, especially approaches that could assist managing or 'rescuing' the genomes of genetically valuable individuals. Indeed, one of the highest priorities in wildlife ex situ management is sustaining all existing genetic diversity to (1) preserve heterozygosity to avoid inbreeding depression and (2) ensure species integrity and the persistence of genomic adaptability to environmental changes. There are components of the rapidly emerging field of oncofertility in women that are highly compatible with preserving valuable genomes of individuals or populations of threatened wildlife. Strategies associated with ovarian tissue cryopreservation and follicle in vitro culture are especially attractive for protecting and extending fertility for wild females. Given adequate attention and more basic studies, we predict that these approaches could assist in the intensive and practical management of gene diversity in endangered species. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


Janes D.E.,Harvard University | Janes D.E.,Iowa State University | Elsey R.M.,Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge | Langan E.M.,Smithsonians National Zoological Park | And 3 more authors.
Sexual Development | Year: 2013

Across amniotes, sex-determining mechanisms exhibit great variation, yet the genes that govern sexual differentiation are largely conserved. Studies of evolution of sex-determining and sex-differentiating genes require an exhaustive characterization of functions of those genes such as FOXL2 and FGF9. FOXL2 is associated with ovarian development, and FGF9 is known to play a role in testicular organogenesis in mammals and other amniotes. As a step toward characterization of the evolutionary history of sexual development, we measured expression of FOXL2 and FGF9 across 3 developmental stages and 8 juvenile tissue types in male and female American alligators, Alligator mississippiensis. We report surprisingly high expression of FOXL2 before the stage of embryonic development when sex is determined in response to temperature, and sustained and variable expression of FGF9 in juvenile male, but not female tissue types. Novel characterization of gene expression in reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination such as American alligators may inform the evolution of sex-determining and sex-differentiating gene networks, as they suggest alternative functions from which the genes may have been exapted. Future functional profiling of sex-differentiating genes should similarly follow other genes and other species to enable a broad comparison across sex-determining mechanisms. Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.


Stanton L.A.,Manchester Metropolitan University | Sullivan M.S.,Manchester Metropolitan University | Fazio J.M.,Smithsonians National Zoological Park
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2015

Standardized ethograms offer many practical benefits to behavioral researchers, and several examples exist today for various species and taxa. Despite historic evidence that suggests the family Felidae share similar behavioral repertoires, no standardized ethogram providing comprehensive behavioral definitions exists. In order to create a working ethogram for the Felidae, we conducted a thorough literature review of published articles and books containing behavioral definitions designed for felid species. A total of 95 documents qualified for inclusion, and each was evaluated to identify the terminology used in its behavioral definitions, along with any categorization implemented. The articles included the behaviors of 30 species and 40 subspecies of felids, with the most frequent single study species being the domestic cat (Felis catus), followed by several "big cats". The results were organized into the following mutually exclusive groups for comparison: domestic cat studies, big cat studies, and small cat studies excluding domestic cats (i.e. small exotic cats). Systematic review of definitions confirmed that researchers tend to define felid behavior in similar manners, although some divergence was found between the inclusion of behaviors in domestic and exotic (non-domestic) cat studies. Information from the literature review was used to create a standardized, universal ethogram for use in future felid behavioral studies. The final ethogram suggests the use of "base behaviors" which can be altered using pre-defined modifiers in order to accommodate the requirements of individual studies while retaining consistent terminology. Common behavioral categories are also defined, and suggestions of behaviors that qualify within each category are presented to further assist researchers when developing their study. The ethogram was designed to be user-friendly with clear definitions for each behavior, which should be coherent to a diverse range of observers. We anticipate that use of this ethogram will save researchers time and effort in creating behavioral definitions for their study, while also assisting in unifying felid behavioral research. © 2015.


PubMed | Smithsonians National Zoological Park
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The veterinary clinics of North America. Exotic animal practice | Year: 2012

In addition to being a large component of most zoological collections, reptile species are becoming more popular as family pets. Reptiles have the cognitive ability to be trained to facilitate daily husbandry and veterinary care. Desensitization and operant conditioning can alleviate some of the behavioral and physiological challenges of treating these species. A survey of reptile training programs at zoos in the United States and worldwide reveals that there are many successful training programs to facilitate veterinary care and minimize stress to the animal. Many of the techniques being used to train reptiles in zoological settings are transferable to the exotic pet clinician.

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