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Issue Report on Captive Breeding and Reintroduction

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Introduction

Target Audience: AS level Biology students. Purpose: for gaining a better understanding of the concepts of captive breeding and reintroduction. First biological issue (Major): Captive Breeding (including genetics and inbreeding) Pg1-3 Second biological issue (Minor): Reintroduction (inc. Hibernation as a biological process) Pg3-5 Word count: 1955 excluding figures and bibliography. Wildwood Wildwood Trust is a project situated on the edge of the Forest of Blean, in Kent. Wildwood's aim is to use the facilities in the woodland and animal collection to 'support practical conservation projects in the wild.' There are over three hundred animals, many of which are endangered, taking part in conservation projects, and living in semi natural enclosures. The woodland is managed by coppice rotation, a process that takes place every 20 years where trees such as silver birch and sweet chestnut are cut to ground level and then shoots allowed to regrow. This is an essential habitat for the hazel dormouse. The wood is a centre for captive breeding and reintroduction for native endangered species such as hazel dormice and this example will be used in this report to explain these issues. The Hazel Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) The Hazel Dormouse is native to the countryside of Britain, predominantly southern England (see figure 2), living in woodland areas and environments rich in coppice. ...read more.

Middle

A studbook for dormice was created in 2006 to keep track of mice kept by members of the CDCBG. The studbook limits inbreeding and keeps breeding to first generation or wild caught animals. Breeders can use the studbook to selectively breed, mixing mice from different collections and different families. This will stop related mice from dominating the gene pool creating healthier mice and preserving genetic diversity. Future developments could include implantation of embryos and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) of the dormice. Selective breeding could be improved and gradually undesirable characteristics or weaknesses bred out. Cloning could be developed. Captive breeding raises many ethical, environmental, social and economic issues. Ethical issues. * There are various ethical issues that need consideration with regard to captive breeding. Animals have to be removed from their natural environment and put into captivity virtually locking them up and many people feel that there should not be any interference with nature in this way even to avoid extinction. It could be the case that genetic diversity has already declined to the point where it is irreversible. * There could be a case for protection to encourage breeding in the wild, by in situ methods of conservation, within the environment. However, captive breeding is used to retain species and improve numbers and is easier to manage. ...read more.

Conclusion

Microchips are put into the necks of the released dormice which are approximately a tenth of their body length. Anaesthetic is risky for small animals and interferes with their natural state. The chips are considered important for monitoring the dormice to help with the programme. They could be eaten by a predator in the food chain and the microchip would be affecting natural processes. If the reintroduction is not successful and the mice die this could be due to human error and animals may have suffered as a result of this. Economical The scheme is expensive as the release is labour intensive, with staff needed to survey the area before and after release. This diverts resources from much more cost-effective ecosystem and habitat conservation measures. The health screening is expensive and microchips costs �8 per mouse on top of anaesthetic and vetinary bills. Environmental The nest boxes and cages used can intrude on the natural woodland, with the possibility of dormice causing a shortage of food for the other animals in the ecosystem. Social Some behaviour in genetically inherited but some is learnt from adults and experience. Captive bred animals do not gain this knowledge and are at a disadvantage when reintroduced. The mice might lose their ability to create their own nests. The reintroduced dormice could cause a problem to the local residents. ...read more.

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