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Life expectancy of wild ruminants in zoological institutions


Müller, D W H. Life expectancy of wild ruminants in zoological institutions. 2011, University of Zurich, Vetsuisse Faculty.

Abstract

Increasing husbandry success is an important aim of zoological institutions, but evaluation procedures are rare. Here, data of the International Species Information System was used to calculate the relative life expectancy (rLE; life expectancy of a species expressed as proportion of the longevity record) of 78 ruminant species in captivity. This parameter reflects the husbandry success for individual species. A comparative analysis of rLE across species tested for biological characteristics that influence life expectancy in captivity. In adult females, rLE correlated positively with the percentage of grass in a species’ natural diet (χ2 = 8.28, p=0.004). This parameter describes the diet a species is adapted to. Thus, our results confirm the general experience of zoos that browsers have more nutrition-related problems than mixed feeders and grazers. Higher rLE was also achieved in adult males of monogamous species (χ2 = 9.92, p=0.007), suggesting intrinsic physiological stress in males adapted to defend harems even if not kept with competing males. Furthermore, life expectancy was significantly higher in both sexes of species that were managed by an international studbook (females: χ2 = 8.80, p=0.003, males: χ2 = 5.52, p=0.019), indicating a positive effect of ex situ conservation efforts. Considering these results in husbandry regimes of wild ruminants, husbandry success in zoos may be further improved.

Abstract

Increasing husbandry success is an important aim of zoological institutions, but evaluation procedures are rare. Here, data of the International Species Information System was used to calculate the relative life expectancy (rLE; life expectancy of a species expressed as proportion of the longevity record) of 78 ruminant species in captivity. This parameter reflects the husbandry success for individual species. A comparative analysis of rLE across species tested for biological characteristics that influence life expectancy in captivity. In adult females, rLE correlated positively with the percentage of grass in a species’ natural diet (χ2 = 8.28, p=0.004). This parameter describes the diet a species is adapted to. Thus, our results confirm the general experience of zoos that browsers have more nutrition-related problems than mixed feeders and grazers. Higher rLE was also achieved in adult males of monogamous species (χ2 = 9.92, p=0.007), suggesting intrinsic physiological stress in males adapted to defend harems even if not kept with competing males. Furthermore, life expectancy was significantly higher in both sexes of species that were managed by an international studbook (females: χ2 = 8.80, p=0.003, males: χ2 = 5.52, p=0.019), indicating a positive effect of ex situ conservation efforts. Considering these results in husbandry regimes of wild ruminants, husbandry success in zoos may be further improved.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Hatt J M, Hässig M
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:08 Jan 2012 14:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:19
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=EBI01&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=090&request=001983778
http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&CON_LNG=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=006423060

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