The potential role of zoos in climate change research and mitigation
- Views Icon Views
- PDF LinkChapter PDF
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Rebecca Spindler, Joanna Wiszniewski, David Slip, 2012. "The potential role of zoos in climate change research and mitigation", Wildlife and Climate Change: Towards robust conservation strategies for Australian fauna, Daniel Lunney, Hutchings Pat
Download citation file:
Predicting how animal species might respond to climate change is an important step in developing effective tools for managing biodiversity in a changing climate. This task is made difficult due to a lack of reliable data on the animals and how they will respond to changes in their habitat. The collections of animals in zoos are an important resource that can be used to address some of the gaps in our knowledge, particularly when integrated with field research and conservation planning. Zoos can increase our understanding of the impact of wildlife disease by conducting integrated disease surveillance programs and developing treatment or management options. Reproductive technologies, validated in zoos, can provide value added census data to inform on population viability and function as well as numbers. Determining species preferences and tolerance limits will also inform the triggers that are likely to instigate migration, adaptation or extinction. Zoos offer a controlled environment that allows the examination of the impacts of interdependent factors such as dietary requirements, water tolerance, response to stressors and treatment of disease. Further, zoos maintain species in captivity as insurance against catastrophe in the wild. With additional data, emphasis could be placed on keystone species which will improve climate change resilience for the ecosystem and catchment area. Finally, zoos provide a resource to communicate the implications of climate change to the public and bring about behaviour change. In total, the skills developed in intensively managing small populations and opportunities presented by well managed, captive populations are underutilised and will become more relevant in implementing mitigation strategies for the management of biodiversity under a changing climate.