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The foundation of any managed breeding programme for animals living in captivity is a studbook. This is the chronological listing of animals in the historical captive population detailing birth and death dates, gender, parentage, locations, transfers and local identification numbers (Glatston, 1986). Analyses of these data provide critical information on past trends in population size, age-specific reproductive and survival rates, age structure, numbers of founders, degree of inbreeding, loss of genetic diversity and other measures useful for evaluating temporal changes in a captive population. This information then becomes the basis for making management recommendations to enhance the demographic and genetic security of the captive population (Ballou & Foose, 1996). Demographic security is needed to ensure that an adequate number of breeding-aged animals are available to reproduce at the rates needed to grow or maintain the population at its desired size. Genetic diversity is required for the population to remain healthy and to adapt to changing environments (i.e. experience natural selection).
The 2001 International Studbook for the Giant Panda contains detailed life history information on 542 giant pandas that have lived in zoos around the world (Xie & Gipps, 2001). The first entry, giant panda Studbook (SB) Number 1, is Su Lin, a wild-caught female who arrived at Brookfield Zoo on 2 February 1937 (see Chapter 1). A quick scan of the studbook leaves one with the impression that the captive population's dynamics are dominated by entry and subsequent death of wild-caught animals without sustainable reproduction.
Lynn A. Maguire, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706,
Ulysses S. Seal, VA Medical Center, 54th St and 48th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55417,
Peter F. Brussard, Department of Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717
The saving of critically endangered species is costly, and it is likely to conflict with other societal objectives. Methods are needed for clarifying and resolving such conflicts. In this chapter we will discuss an analytical tool called decision analysis (Raiffa, 1968). Decision analysis provides an explicit framework for identifying species in immediate danger of extinction, defining cases that may require intervention, evaluating the risks and benefits of alternate management strategies, and assessing whether or not the management efforts required to prevent a species' extinction can be justified in terms of their costs to society.
Why is an explicit framework needed? Conservation biology is essentially a crisis discipline (Soulé, 1985); neither time nor abundant economic resources are on its side. Difficult choices often must be made, usually in the absence of adequate data. When the outcomes of alternate actions are uncertain, it is hard to anticipate intuitively which one will be best. Furthermore, there are often several criteria for evaluating outcomes, such as minimizing costs versus maximizing protection; one action may seem to be best under the former criterion but a second far more desirable under the latter. Decision analysis provides a means of evaluating alternatives in a logical and repeatable manner; it is also a useful tool for communicating alternate management plans to others so that they can be persuaded to endorse one or more of them.
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