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Clark F.E.,Zoological Society of London | Melfi V.A.,Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust
Zoo Biology | Year: 2012

Environmental enrichment (EE) is an integral aspect of modern zoo animal management but, empirical evaluation of it is biased toward species housed in single-species groups. Nocturnal houses, where several nocturnal species are housed together, are particularly overlooked. This study investigated whether three species (nine-banded armadillos, Dasypus novemcinctus; Senegal bush babies, Galago senegalensis; two-toed sloths, Choloepus didactylus) in the nocturnal house at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, UK could be enriched using food-based and sensory EE. Subjects were an adult male and female of each species. EE was deemed effective if it promoted target species-typical behaviors, behavioral diversity, and increased use of enriched exhibit zones. Results from generalized linear mixed models demonstrated that food-based EE elicited the most positive behavioral effects across species. One set of food-based EEs (Kong®, termite mound and hanging food) presented together was associated with a significant increase in species-typical behaviors, increased behavioral diversity, and increased use of enriched exhibit zones in armadillos and bush babies. Although one type of sensory EE (scented pine cones) increased overall exhibit use in all species, the other (rainforest sounds) was linked to a significant decrease in species-typical behavior in bush babies and sloths. There were no intra or interspecies conflicts over EE, and commensalism occurred between armadillos and bush babies. Our data demonstrate that simple food-based and sensory EE can promote positive behavioral changes in a mixed-species nocturnal mammal exhibit. We suggest that both food and sensory EE presented concurrently will maximize opportunities for naturalistic activity in all species. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Bowkett A.E.,University of Exeter | Jones T.,Udzungwa Elephant Project | Jones T.,Anglia Ruskin University | Laizzer R.L.,Udzungwa Elephant Project | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Genetics Resources | Year: 2013

Forest-dwelling antelope species are often difficult to detect during surveys due to their cryptic behaviour and densely vegetated habitats. Dung counts have traditionally been used to infer forest antelope abundance but genetic identification has shown that visual identification of ungulate dung to species is often unreliable. This study attempted to use easily obtained morphometric data from faecal pellets to statistically assign antelope dung piles to species. We measured pellets from 238 dung piles collected from the Udzungwa Mountains, south-central Tanzania, a largely forested landscape with five forest-associated antelope species including the endangered Abbott's duiker Cephalophus spadix. The species identity of sampled dung piles was determined by amplifying a c. 600 bp fragment of the mitochondrial control region and aligning DNA sequences with published references. We found no diagnostic differences in faecal pellet size between antelope species although there were significant differences in mean pellet length and width. We employed a single variable linear discriminant analysis to predict the species of dung piles based on pellet length. Despite significant differentiation between species we obtained an overall accuracy of 58.8 % that did not meet our specified probability threshold (P < 0.05). Abbott's duiker dung piles were correctly assigned in the majority of cases (74 %). Overall, morphometric assignment of dung piles to species was not accurate enough to validate dung counts as a survey method for forest antelope although our results do not preclude the development of alternative field identification methods using additional non-molecular characters. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Bungard M.J.,Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust | Bungard M.J.,University of East Anglia | Jones C.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | Tatayah V.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | Bell D.J.,University of East Anglia
Herpetological Conservation and Biology | Year: 2014

Many fragile ecosystems across the globe are islands with high numbers of endemic species. Most tropical islands have been subject to significant landscape alteration since human colonisation, with a consequent loss of both habitat and those specialist species unable to adapt or disperse in the face of rapid change. Day geckos (genus Phelsuma) are thought to be keystone species in their habitats and are, in part, responsible for pollination of several endangered endemic plant species. However, little is known about key drivers of habitat use which may have conservation implications for the genus. We assessed the habitat use of two species of Phelsuma (Phelsuma ornata and Phelsuma guimbeaui) in Mauritius. Both species showed a strong affinity with tree trunks, specific tree architecture and are both restricted to native forest. Tree hollows or cavities are also important for both species and are a rarely documented microhabitat for arboreal reptiles. Both P. ornata and P. guimbeaui avoid areas of high disturbance. Our data suggest that active conservation of Phelsuma requires not only the protection and restoration of native forest, but also implementation of forestry practices designed to ensure the presence of suitable trees. © 2014, Herpetological Conservation and Biology. All right reserved.

Melfi V.,Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust | Hosey G.,University of Bolton
International Zoo Yearbook | Year: 2011

All zoos and aquariums aim to maintain animals with good welfare. Empirical evidence has demonstrated that various activities, described collectively as behavioural husbandry (BH), are associated with good animal welfare, so a lot of zoos now integrate BH into many of their captive animal management regimes. The widespread implementation of BH seems ubiquitous; however, some zoos do not have access to the resources, knowledge and skills that underpin BH. Building capacity within these zoos, so they have the information necessary to enhance the welfare of their animals, should be a high priority. In this case study, a workshop successfully provided 16 delegates with this information. Evaluation of the workshop demonstrated it effectively increased knowledge. More importantly, it proved to be a catalyst for a number of BH initiatives in a variety of zoos worldwide, which occurred after the workshop. Information was also promulgated further by delegates to colleagues within their institutions and also further afield within their region. © 2011 The Authors. International Zoo Yearbook © 2011 The Zoological Society of London.

Ntie S.,University of New Orleans | Johnston A.R.,University of New Orleans | Mickala P.,Universite des Sciences et Techniques de Masuku | Bowkett A.E.,Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust | And 20 more authors.
Animal Conservation | Year: 2010

Small to medium-sized central African forest artiodactyls constitute a diverse yet heavily hunted group composed primarily of species within the genera Cephalophus, Neotragus, Tragelaphus and Hyemoschus. Of these genera, Cephalophus is the richest with as many as seven sympatric species known to occur in central African forests. However, differentiating species from their faeces or from tissue where the whole carcass is unavailable is very difficult. In order to develop a robust molecular diagnostic for species identification, a database of mitochondrial cytochrome b (553 bp) and control region (∼675 bp) sequences was compiled from all forest Cephalophus species and other similarly sized, sympatric Tragelaphus, Neotragus and Hyemoschus species. Reference phylogenies from each marker were then used to recover the identity of sequences obtained from unknown faecal samples collected in the field. Results were then compared to determine which region best recovered species identity with the highest statistical support. Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) were also assessed as an alternative method for rapid species identification. Of the methods examined, tree-based analyses built on a geographically comprehensive database of control region sequences was the best means of reliably recovering species identity from central African duikers. However, three sister taxa appear indistinguishable (Cephalophus callipygus, Cephalophus ogilbyi and Cephalophus weynsi) and not all species were monophyletic. This lack of monophyly may be due to incomplete lineage sorting commonly observed in recently derived taxa, hybridization or the presence of nuclear translocated copies of mitochondrial DNA. The high level of intra-specific variation and lack of robust species-specific diagnostic sites made an RFLP-based approach to duiker species identification difficult to implement. The tree-based control region diagnostic presented here has many important applications including fine-scale mapping of species distributions, identification of confiscated tissue and environmental impact assessments. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Zoological Society of London.

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