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New in ZIMS for Studbooks: Managed Groups gives studbook managers insight to group dynamics

The Managed Groups feature is used to track which animals have been or are currently housed together. (Photo: Adobe Stock Images)

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

Among most important functions of collective population planning is the management of groups of animals within a species, whether they are breeding groups, social groups, groups within an aquarium tank, and more. To help with this, non-profit Species360 has released a ZIMS for Studbooks function called “Managed Groups.”

The new Managed Groups feature is used to track historic interactions of groups of animals, for example which animals have been or are currently housed together. This tool can inform species management by providing insight into how individuals at institutions have interacted over time – this is especially important when facilities hold more than one group.

For example, the studbook keeper can identify which animals are living together and are compatible, identify breeding groups or non-breeding groups, determine which animals within a group are candidates for transfer to a new facility together or which animals should breed.

Here is a detailed look at how Managed Groups functions and all it can do:

Why It Matters: Studbook Keepers can use Managed Groups to add animals to groups created within the studbook in order to better track and understand their interactions. There are a multitude of reasons that this is important, including the ability to track:

  • Social groupings: Track animals socially interacting on a regular basis.
  • Enclosures/tanks: Users can track which animals are physically held together within the same enclosure or tank.
  • Animals in “rooms”: Many amphibian, invertebrate, and aquatic species are maintained in multiple tanks or enclosures within a single room – and there may be multiple rooms at a single institution. In some cases, the animals within each room cannot interact. Managed Groups cam be used to track the individual rooms as groups. For example, assigning groups to animals within specific rooms is key to knowing which animals have access to each other if they cannot move rooms or if they should move rooms for genetic reasons.
  • Breeding pairs/groups: Users track animals that are together for breeding. This could be be a group of two or more animals. Using the tool in this way helps studbook keepers know which animals are currently in a breeding situation and which animals are not – and whether animals are in more than one breeding group.
  • Disease exposure: Users could use this tool to track animals that have been together or had exposure to one another over time in order to track infections or diseases within the population. This is helpful in knowing which animals cannot be in groups with other animals.
  • Program/education animals vs. exhibit animals: Within institutions it may be important to know which animals are grouped within the education department and which are exhibit animals. For example, when animals move in and out of programs to exhibit and vice versa, it is important to track when animals are moving between the groups.

How it Works: An Overview of Managed Group Features

For those using Managed Groups, below is a brief look at currently available features. For detailed training information, go here.

  • Managed Group Management Screen
    • Add groups to the studbook
    • View list of active and all managed groups in the studbook and a count of the animals that are currently or have historically been in the group (hyperlink to list of animals)
    • Add/remove label to managed group, labels allow users to identify the type of group. For example, you could add a “non-breeding” label and a “family” label to indicate that a group is a family group that is not breeding. If the type of animals in the group changes, the user can change the labels.
    • Export list of managed groups
  • Managed Groups on Animal Detail Screen
    • Add/delete animal from group, quickly add or remove animals from a group
    • Option to batch add animals to managed groups. This allows for quick creation of new groups.
  • Managed Groups in Animal Lists:
    • View current managed group for animals in column
  • Export Managed Groups
    • Export Living Animal list – select “Group by location” and the export will display all animals aggregated by managed group and institution. Available on living animal list.

Learn more about What’s New in ZIMS for Studbooks.

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