Genetic studies in zoological parks and their application to conservation: past, present and future



The development of new scientific techniques has led to significant advances in our understanding of biodiversity and the threats facing animal populations. Zoos have been at the forefront of the application of these techniques, ranging from cytogenetics to the analysis of small-population biology, with the aim of improving animal management and facilitating in situ conservation. Many of the key applications of genetic analysis are discussed; for example, assessing species diversity, utilizing studbook data, understanding genetic diseases and the related implications for captive-breeding and reintroduction, together with the latest technological developments. The increasing power of genetic analysis will offer fundamental insights into aspects of biology that are of direct concern to zoos.