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Birds living in natural habits can help inform captive care - University of Exeter

Guam kingfisher - Credit Paul Rose
Guam kingfisher - Credit Paul Rose

Bird species that live in their natural habitats can help zoos learn how to manage those in captivity, according to a new review.

Birds are the most diverse group housed by zoos around the world, but zoo-based research tends not to focus on birds.

A new article published in the journal Birds, by Dr Paul Rose of the University of Exeter, suggests zoos can improve management of birds by looking at how species live in their natural habitats.

Likewise, birds living under the care of humans can also help guide and develop conservation action for those living in the wild.

“Research into wild birds is extremely useful for furthering how birds are managed in zoos,” said Dr Rose.

“For species of conservation concern, zoo professionals can be linked with field biologists to share information on how to best care for these species in captivity and how to develop and formulate conservation actions. We can use proxy species – those common in zoos – to develop practices for conservation that can be used for less familiar species that might be of concern and need help from information gathered through things such as captive breeding. Or we can promote the threats that these not-in-the-zoo species face by using the commoner species as an ambassador. We do this through my work at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, promoting the rarer species of flamingo that are in the wild using the commoner ones we keep in the living collection.”

The review article published in the Journal Birds, is entitled: “Evidence for aviculture: Identifying research needs to advance the role of ex situ bird populations in conservation initiatives and collection planning.”

Posted on: 08 February 2021

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