Detecting Chinese giant salamanders in the Qinling Mountains
The Chinese giant salamander is the largest amphibian in the world. Its wild population has declined sharply since the 1950s and was listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2004. In order to protect this endangered species, it is important to obtain basic information such as where they are and how many are there. Researchers traditionally surveyed wild giant salamander population with “bow hooks” or “turning substrate” method. However, as the wild population declined, the two methods became inefficient. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a new technology, which became more popular in aquatic studies recently. The approach of eDNA is efficient for detecting rare, secluded, and nocturnal species, such as the Chinese giant salamander, which is hard to find using traditional methods. It would be valuable to develop an eDNA protocol appropriate for detecting the Chinese giant salamander, since there has been no such kind of study in China yet. We aim to test this method and compare its efficiency with “bow hooks” method before applying it to a broader region to verify the presence of the salamander, and provide information for its population management.
Developing methods for the collection, characterization, cold storage and cryopreservation of snake sperm
Common to longleaf pine ecosystems, two endangered
snakes, the Louisiana pine snake and the
eastern indigo snake breed readily in captivity when allowed to hibernate. The
highly endangered Louisiana pine snake has had successful breeding colonies.
Unfortunately, habitat loss and fragmentation are contributing to wild
populations declining, and genetic loss is ongoing. Removal of animals from the
wild to increase captive breeding is now nearly impossible due to increased
regulatory restrictions. Thus, it is essential to develop assisted reproductive
techniques such as cryopreservation and artificial insemination (AI). However
efficient protocols of semen collection, semen evaluation, short-term storage,
cryopreservation, and AI need further investigation and optimization. The bull
snake is a good model species to develop cryopreservation protocols and AI
methods to be used in the endangered species.
Moreover, using the bull snake as a model will enable determination of
more accurate of sperm characteristics, appropriate storage solution for
cryopreservation, longevity of spermatozoa during cold storage, the effects of
cryopreservation on sperm quality upon reactivation and AI protocols with the
ultimate goal to use the knowledge we gain to collect and gene bank two highly
endangered North American snake species.
imperiled bird species in the Northern Marianas Islands to snake free Islands
The introduced brown tree
snake has decimated forest birds on the island of Guam, and now poses a threat
to endemic species in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
To avoid further extirpations and extinctions, translocation of birds to sanctuary
islands free of the snake has been proposed and undertaken over the last
several years through the Mariana Avifauna Conservation (MAC) Program, in
partnership with the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Preliminary
results of DFW surveys show successful breeding on the sanctuary island of
Sarigan for two Marianas endemic species translocated from Saipan, the bridled
white-eye and the golden white-eye. The Mariana fruit dove was most recently
translocated from Saipan to Sarigan, and breeding surveys will be conducted in
2013. The primary goal of Phase Nine will be to translocate a seed population
of the Tinian monarch, found only on Tinian, to the snake- and human-free
managed reserve island Guguan. In addition to the imminent threat of the snake,
the monarch faces habitat alteration due to expansion of US military operations
on Tinian. Bridled white-eyes may also be translocated from Tinian to Guguan as
resources permit. The secondary goal will be to collect Tinian monarchs and
Mariana fruit doves for captive breeding programs in US zoos. Captive breeding
populations will provide a secondary safeguard against extinction and offer
potential research colonies to learn more about these rare birds.
Evaluating sperm for cryopreservation
in the Natterjack toad
To preserve threatened species, cryopreservation of sperm for assisted
reproductive techniques is important.
However, many factors affect semen quality, such as seasonality, and
each species has a different set of parameters for cryopreserving sperm. For frogs and toads, sperm has never been
frozen in any Iberian species despite having many threatened species only found
in Spain. In this study, we will
evaluate the effect of seasonality on frozen sperm. Moreover, we will also assess the status of
the DNA fragmentation, or how much the DNA strands have broken apart, as it
relates to successful embryo development.
This will be the first time that this factor has been evaluated in an
amphibian and related to embryo survival. Therefore, the results from this
study could be an important step toward the ex
situ conservation of endangered amphibians.
the seasonality of breeding in male and female bears
Genetic isolation and loss of
diversity is of concern for both ex situ and in situ populations
of giant panda and polar bear. Testosterone metabolites found in giant panda
and polar bear urine will be examined to improve captive breeding success and
provide greater understanding of bear reproductive biology. Urinary testosterone
will be examined through enzyme immunoassay and further identification of testosterone
metabolites verified through liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. In male
giant panda, urinary testosterone will be compared during breeding and non-breeding
seasons for typical (February-May) and atypical (June-January) female estrus.
Urinary testosterone in male and female polar bears will be compared between
breeding and non-breeding seasons, and longitudinal profiles compared to the testosterone
metabolite patterns found in the feces. These data will allow zoo managers to
non-invasively monitor optimal testicular function in males and identify sexual
receptivity in females. Knowledge regarding the occurrence and duration of
sexual behavior and receptivity of male and female bears will help guide
husbandry decisions, and allow managers to plan breeding pair introductions. In
addition, this study will allow for a better understanding of the poor
reproductive rates of bears in captivity and provide information regarding the concurrence
of behavioral and physiological cues for successful breeding.
a conservation landscape plan for the Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo Horticulture Department is dedicated to the conservation
of the Memphis Zoological Society’s arboreal heritage, and is committed to
environmentally sustainable initiatives. The Memphis Zoo was built in Overton
Park in 1906, yet many of the trees from that era are aging and creating a
hazard for the Memphis Zoo’s animals, guests, and staff. Furthermore, some of
the new non-native species planted in more recent years by horticultural staff
require greater water resources than the native species. A need to create an
Arboreal Sustainable Landscape Management Plan was established when it was
discovered that the Memphis Zoo does not have a Tree Inventory or Tree
Replacement Plan. Thus, we propose to complete an Arboreal Sustainable
Landscape Management Plan, by which Phase 1 consists of a Geographical
Information System (GIS) survey of the current tree distribution across the
Memphis Zoo. The main goal of this initial survey is to further assist in Phase
2 of the Arboreal Sustainable Landscape Management Plan that will focus on
replacing aging trees with appropriate native species. By planting trees that provide shade, design
elements, and sustainability for the next generation, we anticipate reducing
the environmental footprint of the Memphis Zoo. The ultimate goal of Memphis
Zoo’s Arboreal Sustainable Landscape Management Plan is to create a Zoo
Arboretum certified by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.
Comparing fresh and frozen sperm in boreal toads from the southern Rocky
In response to global
declining amphibian populations, captive assurance colonies are being
established in order to safeguard genetic diversity and propagate threatened
populations through breeding and reintroductions. One of the main challenges to
the long-term success of such captive breeding programs (CBPs) is effective
genetic management of the breeding population to ensure that the genetic
variability in captive cohorts is representative of the population as a whole.
The southern Rocky Mountain population of boreal toad has experienced
substantial declines over the last three decades, resulting from increasing
environmental pressures and disease. The proposed study will investigate the
potential for fertilization of eggs from captive females using fresh and frozen
sperm collected from wild individuals. Success in this project will provide a
means to increase the fitness of captive colonies by introducing genetics from
the wild and reintroducing genes using frozen-thawed sperm, aiding in the
long-term genetic management of this species.
Wild World of Wine and Beer
Saturday, April 11
21 and up
Presented by AutoZone
Join us in the Courtyard for the 17th Annual Wild World of Wine and Beer. We'll enjoy food, wine, beer and a silent auction for artwork from some of the Zoo's very own artists. This event is the Zoo's largest fundraiser and supports conservation here and around the globe.