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Predicting Extinctions

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Neil chace, 17 Jan 2021.

  1. Neil chace

    Neil chace Well-Known Member

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    It's no great secret that a lot of species are on the verge of extinction, and we will likely lose many of them before the year 2030. What species do zoochatters predict will be extinct by the year 2030, and what do you think needs to happen to prevent this?

    I'll start with a few-
    1. Vaquita- this is a fairly obvious one, with only around a dozen left. At this point, it is functionally extinct and probably isn't worth the resources to save it, as there are plenty more species in need of protection.

    2. Indochinese Tiger- in the roughest shape out of the surviving tiger subspecies and is also not as well represented in captivity. What is left of the population is highly fragmented and is only a matter of time before inbreeding becomes an issue. If this species is to be protected, it likely needs a captive population in either AZA or EAZA- which I don't necessarily think is possible. If this species goes extinct, would it be possible to release Malayan tigers in its range, as they would serve exactly the same ecological niche and are very similar? I think this might be the best bet.

    3. Northern Right Whale- only around 200-300 individuals left, might not be completely extinct by 2030 based on their long lifespan- but will likely pass the point of no return if nothing new is done to protect them.
     
  2. OstrichMania

    OstrichMania Well-Known Member

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    Think a fairly obvious one as well for me would be the Javan Rhinoceros. With only two remnant populations, I feel it is too late to save them. I think the population is around 60 individuals according to the WWF.

    Javan Rhino
     
  3. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I tend to think that the Javan rhino with translocation to other protected areas and in the absence of some stochastic event of one kind or another will pull through but I am far more concerned about the Sumatran rhino.
     
  4. OstrichMania

    OstrichMania Well-Known Member

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    I see your point and I honestly think both the Javan and Sumatran could easily be extinct perhaps in the next 5 years, let alone 2030.
     
  5. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    This is a really interesting question/thread and thank you for starting a discussion of this kind as it is very pertinent to the topic of zoos.

    I think it depends on how we define extinction but I believe that by 2030 we will be seeing a lot of species that occur in such low population densities that they have become functionally extinct or extinct in the wild or both.

    I think it goes without saying that for a good many of these species there will be an enormous need for ex-situ management including within zoos (if zoos are still around as institutions and if zoos are able to care about the plight of these animals).

    In terms of the total extinction of species, it is more difficult to answer but I think there are some notable examples that I believe will very likely no longer be with us such as the saola by that time.

    The species that I believe will be at the greatest risk of total extinction by 2030 will be the more cryptic lesser known species that do not figure highly in conservation prioritization and are not held ex-situ and amongst these many will be EDGE species.

    I can't give you any specific examples of species but in terms of groups, yes, I think that amongst the lost will include many freshwater fish and turtle species, a number of amphibians and reptiles and inumerable invertebrates.

    A number of the more cryptic " little brown job" type birds occurring on continents and islands that already have restricted ranges and particularly those occurring at higher elevations will very likely have gone extinct either totally or within the wild.

    In terms of mammals I believe that it will be the smaller species (at least at first) that will suffer the greatest amount of total extinctions for the reasons I've stated above and particularly amongst rodents and bats but I have no doubt that there will be a handful of primates that will be gone from this earth too.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2021
  6. dinosauria

    dinosauria Well-Known Member

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    The Devils Hole Pupfish probably won't be doing so well, because it lives in a single pool of water and is unfortunately being preyed on by introduced diving beetles. The good news is that we've started breeding them though, so maybe that will change in the future (one way or the other that pool is going to dry out eventually but that's a matter for the next few thousand years).

    Also the Wikipedia page for them has this priceless line:
    "Other threats faced by the species include flash floods, earthquakes, and vandalism."
     
  7. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Very much hoping none of these come true, but:

    -Vaquita
    -Yangtze Softshell
    -Cassia Crossbill
    -Sumatran Rhino
    -Stresemann's Bristlefront
     
  8. CheeseChameleon1945

    CheeseChameleon1945 Well-Known Member

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    Like O.C, I think smaller species will be under greater threat than anything else, mainly because they are usually the types of animals that not many of the general public cares about, and are more "possibly extinct" than anything.
    Sterr's cave Mysids are almost bound to go extinct in the next few years, Lion's hill velvet worms will sadly probably die out, (a personal loss), Opisthoteuthis chathamensis and other endangered species around new Zealand are now a particular interest to me, and O. Chathamensis has not been seen since 1999, which is another concern. But to me these are not total losses, I suspect many of these Possibly extinct species simply have just become unnoticed over the past years and can turn up again, hence the "rediscovered species" threads. I am especially pertaining to the Cirrate octopus Mentioned above, we hadn't discovered deep sea animals such as "Big red" until 2003, and though some species may go extinct there's nothing stopping us from trying to perceive and actually care and think about some of these little-known species. My goal is to study hard to become a zoologist, and actually try to conserve these little-known "brown frogs" or "seed shrimps" to be shed into a bigger light and be conserved just as equally as other ABC animals. Let's not frown and say "that's a lost cause" at everything, because I believe with a little hope we could save at least some, (not all) species that are too precious to evade our gaze and disappear into the extinction textbook.
     
  9. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I agree CC2007. Zoos should be conserving little known species. Years ago, I had a phone call from WWF. The caller said that tigers could soon become extinct. I said that there was little risk of that, due to the high captive population. Meanwhile, there are few people from zoos and other conservation-based organisations trying to save little known species.
     
  10. Neil chace

    Neil chace Well-Known Member

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    There have been tons of fungal problems for amphibians in Central America. Panamanian golden frogs have a good captive population, but a lot of the others might very well go extinct. Amphibians as a whole are underrepresented in the AZA- just look at how few SSPs there are for amphibians, despite being the most endangered class of vertebrates. And yet just about every zoo has Poison dart frogs, which have minimal conservation needs.
     
  11. GaryA

    GaryA Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to throw a curve ball in here. Do we save a species as a whole, rather than seperate subspecies? Plenty of tigers in the world, but only a few of some sub species. Same with leopards and many others. Should we take a more holistic approach to keep a species ongoing and healthy?
     
  12. Carlos M

    Carlos M Well-Known Member

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    I fear that a lot of amphibians in this regions are going to be extinct by the end of this new decade. Aside from fungal problems, there are also habitat destruction and pollution of water sources here in Guatemala, and probably a lot of the endemic salamanders and frogs won't make it long without conservation efforts. Our local zoo in fact doesn't keep any frog species, and sadly two endemic species were already lost last year, suffering the same fate of the Atitlán Grebe: Pseudoeurycea exspectata, a salamander, and Craugastor myllomyllon, a frog.
     
  13. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Some of the other threads deal with this in more detail, but there are a few flaws with your argument. What defines a species? Difficult to say - there are various definitions, many of which reference divergence dates. But stripped down to its bare bones, a species is a group of animals that add something different to the environment and are adapted differently to other groups of animals to cope well in the habitats they must contend with.

    I'm sure you are aware of the massive differences between, e.g., Amur and Sumatran tigers. A Sumatran tiger would doubtlessly not last long in the Russian winter and vice versa. The situation is the same, though mostly less poignant, with lots of other subspecies. You also say there are plenty of tigers. This is simply not the case. The only subspecies that is not in grave danger is the Bengal tiger. IUCN evaluation is not only based on the number of a certain species that exist, but also their population density. For example, the Saiga antelope numbers in the hundreds of thousands, yet is critically endangered since its range is massive, stretching over a large portion of Northern Asia, while there are a large number of fish species endemic to a single lake who have been ruled as least concern. Therefore, given the tiger's range and therefore extraordinarily low population density, the species is still highly endangered in its own right.

    You may well argue that it is more important to save species, and I would (to an extent) agree with you. I would be cautious in saying that, though - letting a couple of megafauna subspecies go extinct is not a great look...
     
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  14. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I think it will likely be taken into captivity for ex-situ conservation long before it would go extinct but again depending on the definition we use of extinction this would be a functional extinction.

    Absolutely agree with you @Dassie rat , unless there has been massive societal breakdown by the time we reach 2030 then there will still be zoos and these will presumably still be holding Sumatran tigers and other African and Asian megafauna.

    In Central America, yes, if there haven't been ex-situ populations established in zoos or private captive breeding facilities then yes these species will vanish due to chytridiomycosis and the compounding issues of habitat destruction, pollution and climate change.

    On a more positive note though there have been many Central American amphibian species that have been at least provisionally saved from that fate like the Panamanian golden frog, lemur leaf frog and several others that have been taken into biosecure facilities either within the range country or to zoos and botanical gardens in the USA, Canada and Europe.

    There is also the conservation programe of Jonathan Kolby whose name I can't remember working in the cloud forests of Honduras which works to mitigate endemic amphibian extinction.

    That is a great shame that the zoo you mention isn't involved in the captive breeding of endemic amphibian species.

    In many cases this is as easy as having a few shipping containers which can relatively easily be made bio-secure and converted into captive breeding facilities for these species. I suppose this is the tragedy in some ways, as these kind of conservation interventions are nowhere near as costly as those for megafauna yet species continue to die out.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2021
  15. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    Surely the tiger is a classic example of an animal that should be conserved in situ. There are thousands of tigers in captivity, but a limited attempt at reintroduction. Each year, more of the tiger's habitat is being destroyed. Unless the forests are preserved, is it really worthwhile continually breeding tigers in zoos, where each cub will spend a life in captivity, while allowing smaller, less popular species to become extinct?
     
  16. CheeseChameleon1945

    CheeseChameleon1945 Well-Known Member

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    And at least in My experiences, small colorful Central american frogs like the ones mentioned above seem to be quite popular to the visitors, so its a great drawing point for more places to be keeping and breeding these species. :)
     
  17. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Very true, but there are some highly successful programes in US Zoos that are part of AZA and WAZA like the "Amphibian Ark" programe that has done a lot for amphibian ex-situ and in-situ conservation and has been instrumental in preventing several species from going fully extinct.

    Amphibian Ark

    Agree about the poison dart frogs, though there are some species which have been declared extinct this year and several others whose future looks very bleak like the golden poison frog in Colombia.

    There is a really interesting paper called "Mammal and bird species held in zoos are less endemic and less threatened than their close relatives not held in zoos" (will post link below, just access using Scihub.com) that I highly recommend. Of course it is on the topic of mammals and birds within zoos but the same phenomenon might well be said to occur in many zoos with reptiles, amphibians, fish and inverts.

    https://zslpublications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acv.12069

    Yes, I agree, I do think they are engaging animals that attract visitors attention, obviously not as much as Sumatran tigers or elephants or orangutang or meetkats but still for an amphibian and smaller taxa they do seem to have at least some appeal.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2021
  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, again, I totally agree with you on this and indeed feel the same could be said for rhinoceros, pandas and elephants and great apes too.

    Sadly though a lot of people and much of the zoo world just don't agree on that point as they believe that the keeping of these animals makes them commercially viable and of course there is always a tension and mismatch between the commercial and conservation aspects of zoos.

    Of course I understand their perspective and can see the commercial value in keeping some megafauna / charismatics to attract visitors but even if I can see it holistically I'm always going to be more supportive of conservation work being done.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2021
  19. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

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    Don't want to get into this debate again, but I am thoroughly perplexed by this comment. I understand your anxiety for lesser known species - I happen to feel the same way about them. However, the tiger would probably be one of the last examples I would ever use for reintroduction of captive animals.

    Tigers are one of the largest draws at a zoo. The largest of the big cats - and according to many the most impressive and beautiful - is essential for hundreds of zoos worldwide. A large proportion of those zoos hold hybrid animals, specimens that could most likely never be reintroduced unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Secondly, what would these tigers be reintroduced into? As you say, their habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Another one of the most pertinent problems facing tigers is human-tiger conflict. The problem in this case is that, particularly in India, the areas where tigers are most abundant are also the areas where the population is increasing the fastest. This means that there is a high rate of tiger persecution in the area. The effect of introducing more tigers in this area would result in both more competition between the tigers (resulting in deaths by starvation) and more human-tiger conflict (again, more deaths). So essentially, reintroducing tigers does no favours for the tigers already there.

    Reintroducing all the tigers in captivity would almost triple the wild population in an ever-reducing space, while significantly reducing the revenue of many zoos. I hope you see that this is ridiculous.
     
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  20. CheeseChameleon1945

    CheeseChameleon1945 Well-Known Member

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    I too don't want to get into a debate, but I think he means introducing tigers into conservation facilities and sanctuaries in their native range surveyed by scientists to increase the population, not just thrown out in the middle of a decimated landscape. :)