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Reproductive Tools: ZIMS dashboard provides insight used to manage populations

Populations of leopard sharks – classified as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species – are managed using studbooks in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. Photo Credit: Oceanographic Magazine, read the full article by David Robinson and see more photographs by Robinson, Simone Caprodossi and Warren Baverstock.

Katelyn Mucha is Product Owner, ZIMS for Studbooks, Species360. She also serves as an Adjunct Population Biologist for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Population Management Center.

As species face increasing threats in the wild, population managers and studbook keepers are working to sustain representative groups and individuals that reside within the world’s zoos, aquariums, conservation centers, and refuges. The animals they manage provide a critical link to the future by making education, insight to medical treatments and reintroduction programs possible.

To help species succeed, population managers require a wholistic view of the individuals and groups in human care. Access to accurate, up-to-date information about individuals and groups can help species experts to make critical decisions impacting the diversity and welfare of a population.

Given the importance of demographic and other information about populations, it is not surprising that a new, more detailed dashboard was the highest requested feature in a 2021 survey of ZIMS for Studbooks users. Advocates wanted easier, faster access to demographic and reproductive information that would help them to make critical breeding and population management decisions on behalf of their species.

To meet this need, Species360 has introduced a new Reproductive Dashboard that gives ZIMS for Studbooks users easier access to key information for each individual in a population. Here is some of what it brings to the fore.

  • An age summary graph displays the youngest/oldest and mean/median ages at first and last reproduction for males and females as well as breeder life expectancy. Filters can be applied to graph to view a subset of data.
  • List of all reproductive events with detailed information such as: parents, sire/dam age at birth, number of offspring in litter/clutch, and interbirth interval. List sorts based on filters applied. Export list of reproductive events.
  • List of all breeders and living breeders: A list of all animals in the population that have produced at least one offspring. The list shows additional information about each individual’s reproductive history (list of mates, number of litters, age at first reproduction, etc.) to assist studbook keepers in managing breeding recommendations.

VIDEOS: See the reproductive dashboard in action and learn more about using the list of breeders for a species.

The best way to understand the power of this new feature is to better understand the types of questions that it answers. Included are:

  • How many offspring has an animal had?
  • What is the largest litter size a female has produced?
  • How many males have produced offspring during a specific timeframe?
  • How old was the youngest male/female to breed?
  • How old was the oldest/youngest female to breed?
  • What is the average age at first reproduction for a male or female in a population?
  • What is the average life expectancy for an animal that has produced offspring?
  • What is the longest interbirth interval for a female within the population?
  • Which animal has the highest number of reproductive events?
  • Which mates has an animal bred with?
  • Which animal in the population has bred with the highest number of mates?
  • When was the last time an animal bred?

As always, thank you to the studbook keepers, population management teams, and association partners that make these new tools better by participating in the Species360 community and sharing your feedback. We appreciate all that you do.

For more information on ZIMS for Studbooks, Husbandry and Aquatics, Care and Welfare, and Medical, see more new features and updates.

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