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Opportunities and Challenges for Conserving Small Populations: An Emerging Role for Zoos in Genetic Rescue

Opportunities and Challenges for Conserving Small Populations: An Emerging Role for Zoos in Genetic Rescue

Chapter:
(p.255) Chapter Twenty Opportunities and Challenges for Conserving Small Populations: An Emerging Role for Zoos in Genetic Rescue
Source:
The Ark and Beyond
Author(s):
Oliver A. Ryder
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226538631.003.0021

The growing commitment of zoos to address accelerated rates of extinction and losses of biodiversity utilizing the populations they manage has led to the exploration of options to rescue species from extinction, including advanced genetic and reproductive technologies. The availability of banked viable cell cultures, such as those held in collections like San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo® and other facilities, may ultimately provide resources to reduce extinction risk of species for which appropriate samples have been collected. This resource may provide options for genetic rescue, restoration of lost genetic variation to contribute to population sustainability, and for some species, may be the only means of preventing their extinction. In an era of declining biodiversity and expanding scientific capabilities, a new relationship with nature stands to emerge. Genetic techniques such as whole genome sequencing and genetic engineering, and alliances of these technologies with advances in cell and developmental biology, especially stem cell biology, now portend a new form of husbandry that may enrich and sustain some species. It is timely to evaluate and apply advances in animal biosciences to endangered species conservation in the fight against extinction.

Keywords:   genetic rescue, genomics, stem cells, species conservation, Frozen Zoo, San Diego Zoo

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