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Keywords:

  • regional collection plan;
  • taxon advisory group;
  • action plan;
  • space survey;
  • ex situ conservation

Abstract

Regional collection planning and implementation are essential if professional zoological parks and aquariums are to achieve their collective conservation and animal management goals. Several regional associations currently have taxon advisory groups (TAGs) in place whose primary role is to develop taxon-specific collection plans. During their planning process, TAGs review all known taxa of interest and evaluate them based on relevant criteria. TAGs also evaluate the total amount of captive space available to determine the number of priority taxa that can be maintained. In addition, some TAGs heighten their impact on conservation by producing an action plan of select conservation and research projects to be supported by participating institutions. Although current guidelines for regional collection plan (RCP) development are extremely useful for some TAGs, such as those for most mammalian taxa, they do not address the needs of other more speciose TAGs, such as those for fish, invertebrates, and amphibians. These TAGs, characterized by their numerous taxa and more flexible space requirements, still need to develop plans for the species they manage. We recommend that highly speciose TAGs make development of an action plan their highest priority and use it to direct the RCP process. This will limit the number of taxa they need to consider, while ensuring that their RCPs are directly relevant to conservation. Once their action plans have been developed, speciose TAGs can then determine which species are most important to zoological collections and at what level they should be managed. This strategy represents a departure from the current processes used to develop RCPs for many mammalian and avian species and, as such, has not yet been addressed. An action plan-driven approach will result in more practical and relevant planning for speciose TAGs. Zoo Biol 21:313–320, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.