The millenium ark: How long a voyage, how many staterooms, how many passengers?
Version of Record online: 13 MAY 2005
Copyright © 1986 Wiley-Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company
Special Issue: Proceedings of the Workshop on Genetic Management of Captive Populations
Volume 5, Issue 2, pages 101–113, 1986
How to Cite
Soulé, M., Gilpin, M., Conway, W. and Foose, T. (1986), The millenium ark: How long a voyage, how many staterooms, how many passengers?. Zoo Biol., 5: 101–113. doi: 10.1002/zoo.1430050205
- Issue online: 13 MAY 2005
- Version of Record online: 13 MAY 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 OCT 1985
- Manuscript Received: 17 SEP 1985
- captive breeding;
- genetic variation;
- endangered species;
- population growth
Barring holocausts, demographic forecasts suggest a “demographic winter” lasting 500–1,000 years and eliminating most habitat for wildlife in the tropics. About 2,000 species of large, terrestrial animals may have to be captively bred if they are to be saved from extinction by the mushrooming human population. Improvements in biotechnology may facilitate the task of protecting these species, but it probably will be decades at least before cryotechnology per se is a viable alternative to captive breeding for most species of endangered wildlife. We suggest that a principle goal of captive breeding be the maintenance of 90% of the genetic variation in the source (wild) population over a period of 200 years. Tables are provided that permit the estimation of the ultimate minimum size of the captive group, given knowledge of the exponential growth rate of the group, and the number of founders. In most cases, founder groups will have to be above 20 (effective) individuals.