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Regents Park, United Kingdom

Management of freshwater fishes in zoos and aquariums for conservation breeding is a key area where much can be achieved with limited facilities and a comparatively modest financial outlay. Some species now survive only in captivity following in situ threats such as habitat loss. Fortunately, short generation length and high fecundity mean that populations of freshwater fishes can be readily maintained in anticipation of ecosystem reinstatement and a reintroduction programme, where conditions are appropriate. However, diseases that occur in captive populations may constrain any species recovery programme. Conversely, any disease not previously found in the wild population should not be present in captive fishes when the animals are reintroduced to the wild. Mycobacteriosis has regularly been identified in episodes of morbidity and mortality in groups of Extinct in the Wild and other threatened freshwater fishes maintained for conservation breeding. It is, therefore, a common impediment to breeding and reintroduction programmes. For any programme to succeed, the issue of disease management needs to be addressed and solutions found to the challenges. An overview of the elements that must be considered when mycobacteriosis is detected in captive populations of threatened freshwater fishes and ways in which these can be managed in aquariums are discussed here. © 2013 The Zoological Society of London. Source

Kerley L.L.,Zoological Society of London
Integrative Zoology | Year: 2010

This paper is a review of the history, development and efficacy of using dogs in wildlife studies and considers the use of dogs in the research and conservation of wild tigers (Panthera tigris Linnaeus, 1758). Using scat detection dogs, scent-matching dogs, law enforcement detection dogs and protection dogs are proven methods that can be effectively used on tigers. These methods all take advantage of the dog's extremely evolved sense of smell that allows them to detect animals or animal byproducts (often the focus of tiger studies). Dogs can be trained to communicate this information to their handlers. © 2010 ISZS, Blackwell Publishing and IOZ/CAS. Source

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/biology-news/

Two whales washed up near the resort of Skegness on the English east coast on Saturday, said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). They laid side by side on the beach. A third dead whale appeared on Sunday. They are thought to be from the same pod as a dead whale on Hunstanton beach, 25 kilometres (15 miles) across The Wash bay, which stranded and died on Friday. That young adult male was part of a group of six in The Wash. "It is unknown where the rest of the pod are at this stage," the MCA said Sunday. The whales are around 15 metres (48 feet) long. "We believe that the three whales at Skegness died at sea and then washed ashore," said coastguard Richard Johnson. "We are advising members of the public to stay away from the beach. "We have informed the Receiver of Wreck and we are expecting an officer from the Zoological Society of London to attend the scene and carry out tests on the whales." Doctor Peter Evans, director of the Seawatch Foundation, said the whales probably swam south looking for food but got disorientated. He believed they could have been part of a large pod, some of which beached in the Netherlands and Germany. The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales, and the largest toothed predator. It can measure up to 20 metres (67 feet) long and weigh over 50 tonnes. It is 10 years since a northern bottlenose whale swam up the Thames in central London, bringing thousands to the riverbanks to see the extremely rare sight. The whale died during a rescue attempt on January 21, 2006. Explore further: Six sperm whales die in rare mass beaching in Australia

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/biology-news/

Grey squirrels were imported to the UK from the 1890s onwards, and the traditional view is that they spread rapidly across the UK due to their ability cope with new landscapes. Different populations of grey squirrels were thought to have interbred into a 'supersquirrel' that was better able to adapt and spread. However, new research shows greys may not be as hardy as once thought, and were helped much more by humans in their conquest of the British Isles. Dr Lisa Signorile compiled a DNA database of nearly 1,500 grey squirrels in the UK and Italy during her PhD studies at Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). She was able to show that different squirrel populations are still genetically distinct, meaning they did not interbreed much and did not create a supersquirrel. The difference between populations also means Dr Signorile and coauthors were able to trace where populations in new areas had come from. In many cases, new populations of grey squirrels are not related to nearby populations, and instead have come from a long way away. The only way they could have travelled so far was by human intervention. For example, the population in Aberdeen is most closely related to populations in Hampshire, around the New Forest area. "It has been thought since the 1930s that grey squirrels were all the same, spreading across the country as one invasion front. After a century, genetics has proved that this isn't correct. They are not that good at breeding and mixing - in fact there are clear signs of inbreeding," said Dr Signorile. "Grey squirrels are not as crazy invaders as we think - their spread is far more our own fault." The research is published in two papers, in the journals Biological Conservation and Diversity and Distributions. Dr Signorile also discovered that one of the worst offenders at spreading grey squirrels was the 11th Duke of Bedford, Herbrand Russell. Russell was involved in many successful animal conservation projects, but released and gifted many grey squirrels around the UK from his home at Woburn Park. Russell also released populations in Regent's Park, likely creating the London epidemic of greys. "It was a time when we didn't know invasive species could cause so much damage," said Dr Signorile. Although not as good invaders as previously thought, greys still outcompete native red squirrels for resources, and carry diseases that kills reds but not greys. Greys have largely displaced reds in England and Wales. "Eradication or control programs are still needed, in particular in areas where red squirrels are present," said Dr Signorile. Scotland is one of the last places to be invaded, but humans are still helping grey squirrels move into new areas today, albeit more unwittingly. Dr Signorile also investigated where recently-spotted greys have come from. She found that one individual that was captured on the Isle of Skye in 2010 had come from Glasgow. In this case, genetic profiling confirmed a report that the squirrel had stowed away under a car bonnet and escaped on Skye. Dr Signorile also examined the case in Italy, where grey squirrels are more of a recent introduction and could be sold as pets until 2012. Her analysis of populations in different regions of the country confirmed an illegal trade in grey squirrels. "It illustrates that 'attractive and cute' species are often spread further by people," said Dr Signorile. Aside from revealing the surprising result that the success of grey squirrels is in part based on our help, Dr Signorile said the study also suggests new approaches are needed to tackle their spread. "We put a lot of money into controlling grey squirrel numbers, but nobody is trying to prevent their movement and discourage people from picking them up. Decision-makers should look into preventing spreading of greys by human hands. "The public also needs to be aware of the risk of even accidentally moving squirrels. People think grey squirrels are already everywhere, so it is not a problem, but it can be, especially in areas of Scotland where there are not yet established populations." The findings of the genetic study could also be applied to other invasive species, said Dr Signorile, especially where human movements may play more of an important role. These include the more 'ornamental' species that are considered attractive, such as London's ring-necked parakeets and Chinese water deer. Explore further: US seeks end to Yellowstone grizzly protections

News Article | January 14, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

A chemical banned more than 30 years ago but persisting in the environment is threatening killer whales and dolphins living in ocean waters around Europe, a study suggests. Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, once used in the production of paints, flame retardants and electrical equipment, were banned in the U.S. in 1979 when they were found to be highly toxic. The UK followed with a ban in 1981. However, PCBs are long-lasting and still linger in the environment and have an impact on the entire marine food chain, researchers at the Zoological Society of London say. They may be harming Europe's orcas and dolphins, they warn. ZSL scientists studying more than 1,000 orcas, also known as killer whales, and dolphins and porpoises that were either stranded or that were biopsied reported finding dangerously high levels of PCB. Such elevated levels can damage the marine mammals' immune system and interfere with breeding, they explain. "Few coastal orca populations remain in western European waters," says says Paul Jepson, a wildlife veterinarian with the zoological society and leader of a study appearing in Scientific Reports. Those that are still there are very small and exhibiting low or zero rates of reproduction, he says. Long-living top predators like killer whales would be exposed to PCBs in the marine food chain, they say, with the toxic chemicals settling in the animals' fatty tissues. "The long life expectancy and position as apex or top marine predators make species like killer whales and bottlenose dolphins particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of PCBs through marine food webs," Jepson says. Around 300,000 tons of PCBs were produced in Europe between 1954 and 1984, he says, and is slowly leaching out of landfills and into rivers and estuaries, and from there, eventually into the marine environment habitats of whales and dolphins. Levels found in cetaceans — orcas, dolphins and porpoises — around Europe may be higher than elsewhere in the world because PCBs were banned there later than in other parts of the globe, researchers say. "Our findings show that, despite the ban and initial decline in environmental contamination, PCBs still persist at dangerously high levels in European cetaceans," Jepson says. A large part of the problem is that PCBs were specifically designed to be resistant to heat and chemicals and to not degrade with time. "They were designed to last a very long time, so it is incredibly hard to destroy them," Jepson says.

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