Given the volume of news reported on this site, I've long wondered why ZooChatters don't tend to debate or even recognize advances in zoo research. This "Journal Club" is my attempt to remedy that: a thread dedicated to discussing papers members find important, relevant, or just plain interesting. As a general guideline, I think we should stick to papers recently published by peer-reviewed journals, eg. Zoo Biology, Conservation Biology and the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Given the interdisciplinary nature of zoo research, I won't dictate a field of discussion, but we could possibly split different topics into different threads down the line. Below are brief overviews of some recent research that might generate discussion. Links are provided to the first two papers, which are freely available, but the rest require login/payment. There's not much I can do about that unfortunately, but all the abstracts are online (check Google Scholar). If anyone wants more info on a paper they can't access, feel free to drop me a PM. Finally, if any ZooChatters want to support zoo-based science, this is a list of projects looking for crowdfunding: Experiment. Zoo Biology (vol. 35, no. 5): 1) "Husbandry and enclosure influences on penguin behavior and conservation breeding", Marshall et al. [https://www.researchgate.net/profil...n_breeding/links/57a4484908ae3f4529291702.pdf] More evidence that size matters from this multi-zoo comparison, which identified correlates of good welfare and breeding success in Humboldt penguins. Breeding success was influenced by social factors (group size and age), but pool-use (a proxy for health and natural behaviour) was significantly predicted by land area and enclosure size. A relationship between pool-use and pool area per penguin was described as near-significant (p=0.085*). These trends did not level off, suggesting that none of the five zoos provided large enough enclosures and minimum standards should be raised. A couple of similar papers were recently published in the Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research [The effect of the zoo setting on the behavioural diversity of captive gentoo penguins and the implications for their educational potential | Collins | Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, King Penguins in Zoos: Relating Breeding Success to Husbandry Practices | Schweizer | Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research]. 2) "Hair plucking, stress, and urinary cortisol among captive bonobos (Pan paniscus)", Brand et al. [https://www.researchgate.net/profil...n_paniscus/links/57bcb8e808aedf5f75eaa54b.pdf] The first study to investigate the relationship between hair-plucking (suggested to be stress-induced) and cortisol (a hormone involved in the stress response) in a great ape. This is important, because most research uses either behavioural or physiological stress indicators, rather than testing whether both give congruent results. In this case, a significant positive correlation was observed between cortisol levels and hair-plucking in female, but not male, bonobos at the Columbus Zoo (n=13**). 3) "Plumage variation and social partner choice in the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)", Freeman et al. Interesting correlations identified between colouration and social relationships in greater flamingos at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Males with a preferred social partner were redder than males without, and there was evidence for assortative pairing based on plumage colour. Some important research being carried out on flamingos at the moment. Watch this space. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (vol. 19, no. 4): 4) "Environmental enrichment effect on fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and captive maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) behavior", Martín et al. Examined the effect of different types of enrichment (intraspecific, interspecific, and foraging) on maned wolves at the Belo Horizonte Zoo, Brazil. This study also used both physiological and behavioural stress indicators, but only three wolves were included and no consistent patterns were identified. 5) "Environmental enrichments for a group of captive macaws: low interaction does not mean low behavioral changes", Reimer et al. Study assessing how different enrichments influenced the behaviour of 16 macaws (14 Ara ararauna, two A. macao) at the Bosque dos Jequitibás Zoo in Brazil. Enrichments the macaws interacted with least resulted in as many behavioural changes as those they reacted with most, suggesting low interaction doesn't mean an enrichment has failed. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (vol. 184): 6) "A comparison of nocturnal primate behavior in exhibits illuminated with red and blue light", Fuller et al. A must-read for anyone with an opinion on nocturnal houses and the welfare implications of indoor-only exhibits. Nocturnal strepsirrhines kept under blue light during the dark phase (often used to create a "moonlit" effect) spent less time active than those under red light. Levels of melatonin (a hormone that controls sleep-wake cycles) were also significantly lower for an aye-aye in the blue condition. The authors therefore concluded red (and possibly also white) light is better for animal welfare. Visitor Studies (vol. 19, no. 2): 7) "Visitors' perceptions of the conservation education role of zoos and aquariums: implications for the provision of learning experiences", Ballantyne & Packer. Some fascinating insights into the average zoo visitor from this questionnaire-based study, carried out at 13 zoos/aquariums in four countries. Spending time with friends and family was the primary impetus for most visits, but education was the second highest priority. Visitor satisfaction was shaped most strongly by animal welfare concerns, in particular seeing animals that were well cared for and exhibited naturalistically. In terms of the role of zoos, 76% of respondents believed conservation education should be at least as important as providing a fun day out, whilst 81% thought it was at least as important as exhibiting rare, endangered, or exotic animals. Interestingly, 79% of visitors attended zoos at least once a year. These are just a few highlights; I'd recommend any ZooChatter who can to read the paper in its entirety. *P-values are a measure of statistical significance, with smaller values indicating more significant results. They describe the probability of obtaining a result equal to, or more extreme than, your observed result if the effect you’re testing for is not present. In other words, they're the likelihood of getting a false positive, so a p-value of 0.085 means a false positive would be expected in 8.5% of cases. By convention, p-values <0.05 (false positives expected in <5% of cases) are considered statistically significant, hence the authors described p=0.085 as "near-significant".*** **N is the sample size. In this case, n=13 means 13 chimps were included in the study. In general, larger sample sizes are better, but what constitutes an adequate sample size (and, indeed, a sample) is context-dependent. This is particularly relevant to zoo research, where there are often practical constraints on sample size and, from an ethics perspective, one of the “3Rs” is Reduction.*** ***No patronization intended!