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Summary: The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center conducts one of the world's largest and best-known research programs for captive propagation of endangered wildlife. In order to be effective and to ensure the long-term survival of species, researchers at Patuxent attempt to manage captive populations according to the principles of population genetics. This includes the use of estimated inbreeding levels for mate selections in Masked Bobwhites and biochemical analyses to measure extant genetic material and determine relationships among Whooping Cranes. As added insurance against catastrophic losses, or even random losses of key individuals representing unique lineages, cryopreservation of semen has been studied and used for some species. Artificial insemination, using either stored or fresh semen, is used to improve fertility rates, thereby increasing the chances for survival of unique genetic lines. Finally, a periodic influx of unrelated stock occurs, when feasible, in order to enhance the genetic base of captive populations. The application of these techniques will ensure that future releases utilize genetically viable animals, thereby improving the potential for successful reintroductions into the wild.
Additional Publication Details
Genetic management of endangered species at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
International Foundation for the Conservation of Birds