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Ex Situ Conservation

Ex Situ Conservation

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Ex Situ Conservation

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  1. Ex Situ Conservation Sam Hopkins Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

  2. Introduction to ex-situ conservation • Involves taking an animal or plant out of its habitat and placing it in human care • This term covers old methods such as zoos, as well as new methods such as seed banks and gene banks • Ex-situ conservation may not be the ideal method but often the only answer

  3. The convention on biological diversity 1 • 1992- a meeting of world leaders took place at the UN conference on environment and development • The convention on biological diversity was signed by over 150 countries • In this convention a whole article was set aside for ex-situ conservation (article 9) • This was supposed to complement the in-situ strategies already discussed in the convention

  4. Article nine of the convention of biological diversity 1 • Adopt measures for the ex-situ conservation of components of biological diversity, preferably in the country of origin of such components • Establish and maintain facilities of ex-situ conservation and research on plants, animals and micro-organisms, preferably in the country of origin of genetic resources • Adopt measures for the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species and for their re-introduction into the natural habitats under appropriate conditions • Regulate and manage collection of biological resources from natural habitats for ex-situ conservation purposes so as not to threaten ecosystems and in-situ populations of species, except where special temporary ex-situ measures are required • Co-operate in providing financial and other support for ex-situ conservation facilities in developing countries

  5. The three sides to ex-situ conservation • Zoos, parks and botanical gardens • Seed banks • Gene banks

  6. The history of zoos • The emperor Wen- Wang constructed a 600 hectare ‘Garden of intelligence’ in the 12th Century BC 2 • Animal collections are known from Saqqarah in Egypt in 4500bp • Alexander the great kept tigers and parrots in his court 2 • The Romans took many animals out of the wild for their amphitheater antics 2

  7. The history of zoos • London zoo in Regents Park was opened on 27th of April 1828 2

  8. The history of zoos • These zoos were pleasure gardens for the rich

  9. The history of zoos • Little changed until the 1960s when the public started to become aware • There are now over 1000 organised zoo houses in the world with around 1 million animals housed 4

  10. Gerald Durrell • Started life as an animal collector for other zoos • He established Jersey zoo which opened in 1959 and introduced the idea that zoos should be used to conserve, he believed that zoos had a responsibility to save animals from extinction • He pioneered inter-zoo exchange swapping information and animals • “There are only two ways to find out about how an animal lives, and what its habits are: one is to study it in the wilds and the other is to keep it in captivity. As the greater proportion of zoologists cannot go to outlandish parts of the world to study their specimens in the field, the specimens must be brought them.” Gerald Durrell (1953) The Overloaded Ark.

  11. The aims of zoos • The main aim of a zoo is to house whole animals for breeding and re-introduction • A secondary aim is to educate the public • The world zoos conservation strategy estimates that there are 1100 zoos in the world and they receive over 600 million visitors annually 4

  12. The world zoo conservation strategy; the role of the zoos and aquaria of the world in global conservation 4 • A paper was written by a collaboration between the IUDZG, CBSC, IUCN and SSC • It was meant to set out the future for zoos • The ultimate goal is that in the future zoo collections will be co-coordinated globally • But for now they look to base zoo collections on conservation objectives • Suggesting that ex-situ zoo populations should be managed so as to support the survival of species in the wild

  13. The world zoo conservation strategy; the role of the zoos and aquaria of the world in global conservation 4 • This paper suggests that genetic degeneration and domestication can be minimised by co-operatively managing zoo populations • Guidelines are set out to try to maintain as much genetic variability as possible and when this is carried out properly these populations can serve as genetic reservoirs for species survival in the wild • There are a few ways of maintaining genetic diversity. Many zoos keep stud books or use population management software and animal record databases e.g. ARKS or ISIS • A population of 250 to 500 individuals is required to maintain genetic variability for at least 100 years • Ex-situ conservation will not work for all species so subjects must be carefully chosen. Zoos must be able to maintain and breed the species and species must raise public awareness

  14. The world zoo conservation strategy; the role of the zoos and aquaria of the world in global conservation 4 • On top of keeping endangered species alive and genetically diverse zoos also have an important role to play in research • This research is relevant to in-situ conservation • Zoo knowledge on the biology of small populations will become increasingly relevant to conservation of wild species when natural habitats are reduced and species ranges are fragmented

  15. Zoo successes – The Arabian Oryx • The first deliberate use of a zoo was to prevent extinction of the Arabian Oryx • These animals were hunted by the Bedouin as a test of manhood • When spears were swapped for machine guns the numbers declined

  16. Zoo successes – The Arabian Oryx • The last wild animals were shot in 1972 • 15 individuals were in a zoo in Phoenix, Arizona • The first six calves were male but in 1966 a female was born • By 1977 there were 60 individuals in the herd • Now they are found in zoos around the world and are being re-introduced in Oman

  17. Zoo successes- The Californian Condor 2 • The Californian Condor fed on carrion of bison • When bison numbers declined (killed to starve the Native Americans) so did the condor numbers • In the mid 1980s there were 5 birds in the wild and 24 in zoos • In 1992 the zoo population had increased to over 60 individuals • Now the birds are being re-introduced • Some of the introductions have been successful, others not so. If the animals get into urban areas they tend to hit power lines and drink anti-freeze

  18. Other zoo successes 2 • Peter Davids Deer • Przewalskis wild horse • Mauritius kestrel • Hawaiian goose • European bison

  19. Keeping genetic diversity • As has been discussed before, it is important to keep genetic variation in these small zoo populations • In the cases of the Arabian Oryx and the Californian Condor the last remaining animals were taken from the wild to preserve genetic diversity

  20. Keeping genetic diversity- the Cheetah • An oddity is the Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus. This cat lacks retractable claws, fertility is low, infant mortality is high and keepers find it less intelligent than other big cats • Tests looked at variation of 52 enzymes and found none • DNA analysis suggests that 10000 ybp the cheetah population was down to one female and one cub

  21. The Quagga 5 • The Quagga inhabited the Karoo and the Free State and became extinct in 1883. It was hunted to extinction, not for meat but because it competed with livestock • Suggested that it is a sub-species of the plains Zebra • Looking at the most resent genetic work it diverged from the plains zebra 120,000- 290,000ybp 6 • Quagga project established in 1987. • Attempting to breed a Quagga through selecting plains Zebras with Quagga traits • Suggest that these animals could be called Quaggas as they are determined though coat characteristics

  22. Botanical Gardens • There are estimated to be around 1600 botanical gardens throughout the world and these receive over 150 million visitors a year 2 • The Botanic Gardens Conservation Institute (BGCI) was set up in 1987 and its role is to collect and make available information on plant conservation 2 • These botanical gardens are important as it is estimated that 60,000 plant species could be lost in the next 50 years 2

  23. Botanical Gardens • Botanical gardens tend to look after plants in one of the five categories below 2 • Rare and endangered • Economically important • Species that are needed for the restoration of an ecosystem • Keystone species • Taxonomically isolated species

  24. Botanical Gardens • Selecting these species is hard and a number of factors must be taken into consideration 2 • Extinction risk • Suitability of plant for ex-situ conservation • Value of plant • Ease of collection • Funds available • Chances of success

  25. Botanical Gardens – plant re-introductions 2 • In some ways plant re-introductions are easier than animal e.g. easy to monitor as plants don’t move • In others, it is harder because if the wrong site is selected then the plant cant get up and move • When re-introducing it must be decided on whether seeds, seedlings or adults are going to be replaced, each has their pros and cons

  26. Botanical Gardens 2 • Another type of botanical gardens are like plantations • They provide a safe place for plants that do not take well to seed banks • Problems include; • The risk of disease like any mono-culture • Take up space • Less genetic diversity than normal seed banks • Vulnerable to environmental disaster

  27. Botanical Gardens successes – Malheur wire lettuce 7 • In the 1970s there were about 750 individuals of the Malheur wire lettuce (Stephanomeria malheurensis) in the wild • Thankfully, Dr L Gottlieb collected seeds from all portions of the population in the 1970s • After a fire in 1972 an exotic called cheat grass (Bromus tectorum) took over • By 1985 the wire lettuce was extinct in the wild

  28. Botanical Gardens successes – Malheur wire lettuce 7 • The collected stock was maintained • Re-introductions took place • In some plots where the lettuce was re-introduced the cheat grass was removed • In the first year 40,000 seeds were produced • Plots with cheat grass remaining yielded smaller and less quick to flower plants • Now numbers fluctuate due to cheat grass, mammals, rainfall etc

  29. Botanical Gardens successes – Torrey pine 7 • In 1988 there were only 400 to 500 individuals of the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) in the wild The Torrey pine

  30. Botanical Gardens successes – Torrey pine 7 • In 1989 there was an outbreak of Ips beetles (Ips paraconfusus) • By 1991, 840 trees had died due to the Ips beetle • 30,000 seeds from 149 trees were collected • Before the trees could be re-introduced the Ips beetles had to be exterminated Ips paraconfusus

  31. Botanical Gardens successes – Torrey pine 7 • In the first 6 months of 1991, 280,000 Ips beetles were caught in funnel traps and the Ips were eliminated by 1992 • In 1992 trees were returned • Returning progeny to correct area genetically • Seeds only had a 2% germination rate • Container grown seedlings did well • Now there are 6000 individuals in the wild

  32. Botanical Gardens failures – Sophoro toromiro 7 • The last wild individual died in 1960 • There have been 13 unsuccessful re-introductions between 1965 and 1994 • Trees are kept in botanical gardens in New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Europe but they are probably all from the same parent

  33. Seed Banks 8 • Seed banks allow the storage of genetic diversity of whole plant populations • Preserving the seeds for use later is a long process, it involves; • Cleaning • X-ray analysis • Drying, packaging and storage • Germination monitoring

  34. Seed Banks – cleaning 8 • Occasionally clean seed is collected in the field • More often seed is collected still in its fruit • Seed must be taken from the fruit undamaged • This reduces bulk and disease risk • Seeds are often liberated by hand

  35. Seed Banks – X-ray analysis 8 • A few seeds are taken and X-rayed • This is done to see how many of the sample are empty seeds and find any insect larvae hiding in the seeds • The X-rayed seeds are often thrown away afterwards as they may be genetically damaged

  36. Seed Banks – Drying, Packaging and Storage 8 • Drying and freezing the seed increases the time that the seed will last • Seeds are dried in cool conditions (15-18°C) with the relative humidity at 11-15% • This takes about a month • The seed is then put into an airtight container and kept at -20 °C

  37. Seed Banks – Germination Monitoring 8 • A few seeds are tested for viability once they have been frozen • If they do not germinate they are either dead or dormant, to distinguish between the two states the vital stain Tetrazolium is used • A few seeds are tested every ten years to check germination

  38. Seed Banks – The Millennium Seed Bank Project 8 • Global conservation program • Linked to Kew gardens • Aims of the project are; • Conserve 10% (24,000 spp) of the worlds seed baring flora by 2010 • Conserve all the seed baring flora in the UK by 2000 • Research into seed conservation • Allow seeds to be used in research elsewhere • Make seeds available for re-introduction • Assist in plant conservation globally • Public education

  39. Seed Banks – The Millennium Seed Bank Project 8 • So far the project has managed to secure most of the UKs native flowering plants • Collaborations have been formed with 16 other countries • As well as conserving seeds these collaborations are helping to prioritise species to conserve, research into local plants and train local people • Each of these collaborations are different depending on the country e.g. Kenyan seed for life, USA seeds for success

  40. Seed Banks – The Millennium Seed Bank Project In South Africa 8 • Collaboration with National Botanical Institute started 2000 • Aim to conserve SAs flora by creating seed collections that are well documented concentrating on threatened and endemic spp • exciting discoveries; • Brachystegia spiciformis has been found in a Miombo woodland in Soutpansberg, 20m tree that has been undetected until now • Rediscovery of Dioscorea elephantipes (Elephants foot yam) • Rediscovery of the last remaining population of Cylindrophyllum hallii • 2 MSC projects investigating germplasm storage of the medicinal plants of the family Amaryllidaceae

  41. Gene Banks • Gene banks are rather like seed banks • Eggs, sperm and embryos are cryogenically frozen to protect the genetic variation of a species • The zoological society of San Diego has developed a frozen zoo

  42. Gene Banks – the frozen zoo 9 • It is housed by the Zoological Society of San Diego and is one of the worlds largest collections • The frozen zoo is meant to provide materials to aid species recovery and population viability they also bank cells from species that are close to extinction • Holds frozen skin cells, DNA, RNA , semen, embryos, oocytes, ova, blood and frozen tissue • They hold the genetic material from 500 Przewalskis horses, 150 western lowland gorillas, 80 black rhinos, 22 Queensland Koalas and 19 Bornean bearded pigs • These are all available for scientific study

  43. Gene Banks – the frozen zoo 9 • Most recently cells from a Hawaiian honeycreeper called a po’ouli • The species is now extinct in the wild • Cell harvesting is not a way that the bird can be “brought back to life” but more a way that research can be carried out on their DNA • "Even though the genetic program of the po'ouli may be preserved through cell cultures, the DNA will not tell us what it's song was or allow but a most primitive view of the living organism in its environment, yet, we save all that we can, trust that those in the future will be glad for our efforts, and hope that efforts for other species can be undertaken to forestall the necessity to save a few precious cells as the legacy of a unique species."Oliver Ryder Ph.D., geneticist for the San Diego Zoo's department of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species

  44. The problems with ex-situ conservation • Captive and wild populations diverge genetically 2 • Interbreeding 2 • Hybridisation 2 • In the case of gene banks, living populations are necessary to pass on non-genetic learned behaviours 9 • Ex-situ tends to only save particular species whereas in situ saves whole ecosystems 10 • Impossible to conserve whales! 11

  45. The benefits of ex-situ conservation • With only 3% of land in nature reserves world wide often the only answer 10 • “No large wild terrestrial animal will persist long into the future unless cared for in some way by man. There will be insufficient habitat for most large species and protected habitats will be in pieces too small or too unstable to sustain viable populations of the plants and animals they seek to protect. For these and other reasons conservation biologists will be forced to depend more and more on ex-situ care and biotechnology to help protect diversity at both species and genetic levels” William Conway, New York Zoological Society taken from In Ecology, Change brings stability (1986)Science 234:1071-1073 • Botanical gardens can help in ethno biology strengthening collections that have traditional and cultural implications 2 • Re-introductions have occurred for at least 120 animal species and 15 of these are definitely established in the wild and are now self sufficient populations 4

  46. 1. Convention on biological diversity 2. Worley, D., (1996) Ex situ conservation. Chapter in Conservation biology ed Spellerberg, I. Pp 186-201 3. 4. World Zoo conservation strategy. IUDZG/ CBSC/ IUCN/ SSC (1993). Executive summary, the world zoological conservation strategy; the role of the zoo and aquaria of the world in global conservation 5. 6. Leonard et al. (2005). A repid loss of stripes: the evolutionary history of the extinct Quagga. Biological Letters 1: 291-295 7. Conservation Biology for the coming decade (2ed) (1998). Eds Fielder, P. L. and Kareiva, P. M. 8. 9. 10. Soule, M. E. (1991). Conservation tactics for a constant crisis. Science 253:744- 750. 11. (1986)In Ecology, Change brings stability. Science 234: 1071- 1073. References