What reproduction techniques uses science to preserve the species threatened ? He always does? Or, with some exceptions, are the ideal conditions simply created to promote population growth?
There are many factors that must be taken into account to answer. Basically, it depends on each case. Among other variables, it has to do with budgets , policies , interest in the species, seriousness of the situation and / or viability of the different possibilities offered by science.
Sometimes it is not acted upon, directly. In this post, therefore, we focus on the endangered species that arouse interest, since there are many that do not, and we will give a quick review of the main scientific techniques.
Without a doubt, the best way to increase the population is by avoiding its loss. No natural causes, no doubt, but preventing oe nmendando problems such as habitat loss, deterioration or, say, hunting.
- Natural reserves
- Inbreeding reproduction
- Artificial insemination
Science, in these cases, has nothing to do with the laboratory or zoos . You can provide solutions as ingenious as helping to create underpasses or bridges so that animals can reproduce more easily.
These passageways or corridors, for example, have been implemented to allow amphibians to cross safely, under roads. Its design requires a deep knowledge of one or other species.
Also, for example, you can carry out a migration so that the animals are in a more conducive environment or study what are the problems of certain species when it comes to having a suitable habitat.
Proposing solutions and carrying them out through active policies can also bring the species back. Indirectly, avoiding their stress, providing them with a favorable habitat and looking after their well-being, higher survival and reproduction rates are achieved.
However, the conservation of species very often depends on the applied breeding techniques . Since environmental conditions very often are difficult , if not impossible to improve the viability of the species you may become dependent on them.
Consanguineous reproduction is an example of reproduction that may represent the only option (they are usually cases of serious danger of extinction, as is the case with Sumatran rhinos) or avoided, although reproduction between non-consanguineous animals is generally sought . That is, they do not have similar genetic information by descent.
On the other hand, if it is not carried out respecting the species and subspecies, artificial varieties end up being created in captivity. This problem is important, for example, among tigers in zoos.
If we want to preserve a species it is of little use to make these crosses, little less than experiments, nor is it interesting to resort to inbred reproduction, with the consequent risk of abnormalities and defects being perpetuated.
If, on the one hand, inbred reproduction may be due to an attempt by a certain zoo to have attractive animals, on the other hand it does a disservice when it comes to conserving the species. And, likewise, in this type of practices a consanguineous reproduction can also occur.
Indeed, the reproduction of different subspecies cannot be considered valuable to save the species either. Although the genetic and morphological difference may be minimal, the foundations for the conservation of the species or subspecies in question are not being laid.
That does not justify, of course, behaviors like that of the Copenhagen Zoo , where they usually kill healthy animals that are not interesting for the reproduction of the species. The case of Marius, a completely healthy 18-month-old giraffe, who ended up being grazed by lions to avoid consanguinity, was notorious, refusing to accept offers from other centers to take him in. Shortly after, these also ended up running the same fate in favor of a new lineage that was on the way.
Artificial insemination is often used as a successful reproductive technique to increase the population within captive breeding campaigns and subsequent reintroduction into the wild.
The case of the giant panda is well known . Since they are animals with reproductive problems, artificial insemination is invaluable in achieving more births. Otherwise, the critical situation of the species and weak fertility would quickly lead to certain extinction.
Dolly the sheep was not the first cloned animal, but an amphibian in the 70s, but there is no doubt that it is considered the symbol of cloning. Regardless, this DNA- based breeding technique was a controversial step forward in science, even today.
Today, many laboratories work on the conservation of threatened species through genetic engineering. Especially since the 90s, the idea of conserving genetic material from threatened species has proliferated and since then constant scientific advances have been made.
They do not get to clone dinosaurs, as they did in Jurassik Park, but interesting steps are taken, such as creating a mammoth taking advantage of the important genetic similarities with the elephant.
Finally, with the aim of conserving the genetic diversity of the species, the Buenos Aires Zoo created the first bank of genetic material from threatened species. In it, samples of different types of genetic material are kept. Among other biomaterials, eggs and sperm, organ tissues or cells from a myriad of endangered species are stored.
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