Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lincoln Park Zoo projects and #11353

A few months ago we mentioned that the Red Wolf Recovery Program and Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (RWSSP) partners from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (Tacoma, WA) and Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL) received three grants from for projects that will further the conservation of the endangered red wolf.   The awards grants annually to a variety of conservation and research programs worldwide, and is supported by generous contributions from PDZA, Point Defiance Zoo Society, and the Point Defiance American Association of Zoo Keepers chapter. 

One of these projects is to develop baseline red wolf population viability models of both wild and zoo-based populations.  Population viability analysis (PVA) will help us determine red wolf population dynamics and understand trends in both populations, greatly enhancing our collective ability to conserve the species and advance red wolf recovery goals.  As the program grows and faces new challenges, these models can be used to help predict extinction risks and effects of different adaptive management strategies.

PVA working group: David, Nicole, Joe, Lisa, Sarah, and Will. Photo: B.Bartel/USFWS

Last week, David and Becky from the Red Wolf Recovery Program along with Will, the RWSSP Coordinator from PDZA, landed in the Windy City to meet with collaborators at the Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology including Lisa, the Vice President of Conservation and Science, and fellow researchers, Joe and Nicole.  Sarah, the director of the Population Management Center at Lincoln Park Zoo, also serves as an advisor in population biology on the RWSSP Advisory Board.  We discussed the different data sets for the zoo and wild populations and considered various model structures and formats we could use for this work.  

We also got to tour the red wolf exhibit in the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.  There are currently three females at the zoo, 11353 born in 2004, and two of her daughters born in 2010. Red wolf 11353 is actually an important wolf in the captive breeding program.  She’s had three successful litters with 21 pups, which are now distributed across 6 different RWSSP sites. Additionally, 6 of her pups were fostered into the wild population in 2009 and 2010.  The Red Wolf Recovery Program is still actively monitoring 2 of these individuals.  Interestingly, one of 11353's pups fostered in 2009 (11737) has since fathered two sets of pups in wild (in 2012 and 2013).  This spring we actually fostered a pup into his 2013 litter—a fostering full circle!

Stay tuned for more updates on this research!

Foster pup with new packmates (11737's offspring). Photo: B. Bartel/USFWS.

A big thank you to Lisa, Sarah, Joe, and Nicole for hosting us last week!

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