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Research & Projects

Dr. Dalia A. Conde is the new Director of Science at Species360. She comes to us from the Department of Biology at the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging and the Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), where she will continue to serve as an Associate Professor. She has a Ph.D. in Ecology from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and an undergraduate degree from Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Dalia received the Wings Women Explorer Award for her research on jaguars and the American Association of University Women Award (AAUW) for her Ph.D. studies. She has extensive research experience with ZIMS data, and is well-acquainted with international zoo and aquarium leaders. You can learn more about her journey from field biology to zoo data science in this post.

Research Projects

Current projects she is working on with her Ph.D students and Post-Doctoral Fellow include:

Filling knowledge gaps for demographic data

DISKo:
(Demographic Index of Species Knowledge) is a collaborative venture to standardize data across 22 databases to create an index of basic demographic knowledge for each of the world’s vertebrates. The index will be key to supporting research and conservation planning in the future.

Filling data gaps with ZIMS:
There is an alarming lack of data availability of survival and fertility data for terrestrial animals – for example, for all tetrapods, high quality information on birth and death rates is only available for 1.3%. For the data that is available, it is largely unknown whether the data was collected from wild or captive populations. Data from zoos and aquariums can help fill this gap for more effective wildlife management and conservation. This demographic data is even more important for threatened species since the lack of data on them is aggravated by their lower population size in the wild, making it difficult for experts to collect new data.

(Supporting IUCN red list assessments) Generation length bias:
Conservation planning models make assumptions about the length of time it takes for a population to reproduce. Because of the knowledge gaps noted, these models may be significantly underestimating the reproduction and mortality rates for populations. ZIMS data can help reduce the biases by more accurate prediction of these rates by species.

(Informing the EU Zoos Directive) Decision analysis:
Nearly half of threatened EU species are in zoos. Currently EU zoos follow the EU Zoos Directive for ex-situ guidelines, but which species should be selected for ex-situ management? ZIMS data will be leveraged to develop a decision model to help address this question.

Exploring the potential of data to help save aquatic species

Preventing extinction at higher depths:
Oceans are facing extinction rates comparable to past great mass extinctions. Freshwater ecosystems might be facing the same issue due to water streams pollution or biological invasions. Some populations, especially in fresh water ecosystems are believed to be functionally extinct when the population is not reproducing anymore. Captive species knowledge about biology and habitat interactions is crucial to informing potential reintroduction projects such as assisted colonization of corals.

Exploring the potential of data to help mitigate illegal trade

Informing CITES export quotas for turtles and tortoises:
Preliminary analysis of the export history for each species since the 1980s shows a lack of correlation between their IUCN Red List (RL) extinction risk status and CITES. In many cases, the number of exports remained constant or increased even when the species RL status increased (i.e from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered). Moreover many of these species have extremely low capacities for population recovery, increasing extinction risk. ZIMS data on species life histories and husbandry can inform CITES export quotas for better management of species risk.

Faster detection of threatened species falsely laundered as “captive bred”:
The illegal and unsustainable trade of tortoises and freshwater turtles has driven the vast majority of the Southeast Asian species to be listed as threatened by the IUCN Red List.  Turtle species native to the US may also be at risk due to continued heavy exports. Given the magnitude of the turtle market, there is a pressing need for an accurate and practical method to identify animals whose origins are falsely labeled “captive bred.” Currently, suppliers can easily mislabel the origins of their animals, while the time and human resources required to identify misrepresented “captive-bred” animals are enormous, making enforcement extremely difficult. ZIMS data will be leveraged to calculate the maximum credible captive breeding rates to help improve detection of falsified claims.

Additional focus areas

Additional areas that Dalia is addressing as they relate to Species360 offerings and data include:

  • The needs of global and regional zoological associations and regulatory agencies including IUCN, CITES, DEFRA, USFW.
  • The needs of key conservation partners and programs, both in situ and ex situ.
  • Critical scientific and fact-based research needs.
  • Current trends and opportunities in science and how they may apply.
  • Requests for research data (also see source citation guidelines)

ZIMS is a critical scientific, fact-based research resource that can foster a greater understanding of animal, husbandry, health care, diet, contraception, breeding, and species population management issues. We are excited to have Dalia on the team as our zoo data champion to encourage, develop and share ongoing research that best meets the needs of our global membership and the broader conservation community.


Are you citing ZIMS and/or Species360 in a research paper? We’ve included citation formats that should help you find what’s appropriate.

Dr. Dalia Conde

Dr. Dalia Conde
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