Prof. D.D. Williams & Staff of the Toronto Zoo

[Winter Term, 2009]


   In the interests of having this be a low carbon footprint course, there will be minimal use of paper.
Consequently, the course outline, list of lectures, information on tutorials, and other supplementary materials are provided below.
Please check this site regularly for further information posting.

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Course Description

This course is unique in Canada, representing a cooperative venture between UTSC and the Toronto Zoo, a leader in the conservation of our planet's wildlife.

It will be primarily a lecture course that examines the changing role of zoos through time, but emphasizing contemporary topics such as: captive breeding and re-introduction of species vs. new technologies to assist reproduction in wild populations; the importance of nutrition and behavioural enrichment in captive animals; zoos and public involvement/education; endangered species in Canada; and habitat restoration.
One two-hour lecture per week, plus periodic tutorials. Details can be found below.

Contacts: Prof. D.D. Williams (Course Coordinator) and Staff of the Toronto Zoo [T.A. – Tiffany Schriever]

Lectures:        Wednesdays    11:00  -  1:00  [in MW 110]

Tutorials:        Thursdays    4:00  -  6:00 [in AC 334 for Section 1]
(25/section)      Fridays        10:00 - Noon [in AC 334 for section 2] - PLEASE STICK TO YOUR ASSIGNED SECTIONS

Office hours:   Mondays    2:00  -  4:00 [in S-549]

Exclusions:         None
Prerequisites:      [BGYB50H – Ecology & BGYB51H – Evolutionary Biology]
Enrollment limit: 50

Evaluation:      Midterm test (on lecture and tutorial materials up to test date)    25%
                        1 major essay*                                                                        30%
                        Tutorial participation                                                               10%
                        Final exam (on all lecture/tutorial materials, but with
                        emphasis on post-midterm material)                                          35%

[* This is due on February 11th. The penalty for handing in late is 10% of the maximum mark available for the assignment per day]

Course textbooks:

(1) Kleiman, DG, et al. 1996. Wild Mammals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.  (suggested text only)
(2) Toronto Zoo Conservation, Education and Research Activities Report 2006-2007 (Zoo will provide copies for all students enrolled)

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Lecture Topics with dates

(1) Wednesday January 7th

Part I: The impact of a visit to a zoo or aquarium: AZA multi-institutional research project.

Part II: Green practices at zoos and aquariums

Lecturer: Dave Ireland, Curator of Conservation Programmes, Toronto Zoo

 (2) Wednesday January 14th

Overview: history of zoos, changing role of zoos through time, things learned from zoos that we wouldn’t have known any other way, brief overview of Toronto Zoo Conservation, Education and Research programmes.

Lecturer: Dr. William A. Rapley, Executive Director, Conservation, Education and Research, Toronto Zoo, & UTSC

 (3) Wednesday January 21st

The role of zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens in conservation education.

Co-Lecturers: Dr. David Galbraith, Head of Science, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Caroline Greenland, Manager of Education, Toronto Zoo

(4) Wednesday January 28th

Breeding, recovery and re-introduction: theory. 

Lecturer: Prof. Lisa Manne, Biological Sciences, UTSC

 (5) Wednesday February 4th

Captive breeding and recovery of two critically endangered mammals at the Toronto Zoo.

Lecturer: Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo

 (6) Wednesday February 11th

Defining the zoo and aquarium role in wildlife population management: landscapes, watersheds, and wild life populations.

Lecturer: Bob Johnson, Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles, Toronto Zoo

READING WEEK (February 16 – 20th)

 (7) Wednesday February 25th

 Midterm Test
[in the lecture room and based on all material to this date]

(8) Wednesday March 4th 

Aquatic conservation in practice.

Lecturer: Cindy Lee, Curator of Fish and Marine Invertebrates, Toronto Zoo

(9) Wednesday March 11th 

Examples of practical conservation; local, national and international.

Lecturer: Tom Mason, Curator of Invertebrates and Birds, Toronto Zoo

(10) Wednesday March 18th  

Part I: Assisted reproductive technologies: alternative strategies for managing captive populations.

Lecturer: Dr. Gabriela Mastromonaco, Reproductive Biologist, Toronto Zoo

Part II: Research on reproduction in female veiled chameleons.

Lecturer: Dr. Maya Kummrow, DVSc Candidate – University of Guelph/Toronto Zoo

(11) Wednesday March 25th

Part I: The role of zoos and aquariums in addressing the impact of emerging infectious wildlife diseases.

Lecturer: Dr. Graham Crawshaw, Senior Veterinarian, Toronto Zoo

Part II: Vitamin A deficiency in the endangered Puerto Rican crested toad.

Lecturer: Dr. Charlene Berken, DVSc Candidate – University of Guelph – Toronto Zoo

 (12) Wednesday April 1st

Part I: The preservation and feeding of browse to zoo animals.

Lecturer: Jaap Wensvoort, Nutritionist, Toronto Zoo

Part II: Overview, review and discussion (30 minutes)

Lecturer: Dr. William A. Rapley, Executive Director, Conservation, Education and Research, Toronto Zoo, & UTSC

Final Exam [in examination period and based on material in the entire course].

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Tutorial Topics with dates

(1) Polar bears and climate change

Section 1: Thursday, January 22nd from 4:00-6:00 pm in AC 334
Section 2: Friday, January 23rd from 10:00 - Noon in AC 334

(2) The global plight of amphibians – what has gone wrong?

Section 1: Thursday, February 12th from 4:00-6:00 pm in AC 334
Section 2: Friday, February 13th from 10:00 - Noon in AC 334

(3) Conservation advocacy and marketing philosophies in modern zoos – opposites or partnership?
Section 1: Thursday, March 12th from 4:00-6:00 pm in AC 334
Section 2: Friday, March 13th from 10:00 - Noon in AC 334

(4) Behind the scenes tour of the Toronto Zoo

Section 1: Thursday, April 2nd. Meet at the Zoo at 4:00 pm
Section 2: Friday, April 3rd. Meet at the Zoo at 10:00 am.

What is expected of you in the tutorials

The tutorial will each run for up to 2 hours, and will have a relatively informal format in which ideas, opinions, data, and interpretation of the topic can be aired. They will be led by the T.A., but each student is expected to contribute, and therefore will be expected to have (minimally) read the suggested reference articles (one copy of each will be placed on short-term loan in the UTSC Library), but also to have sought out additional references on their own. Marks will be assigned for participation.

Reading sources:

(TOPIC 1) Polar bears and climate change

• Carmichael, Lindsey et al. 2005. Genotyping of pseudohermaphrodite polar bears in Nunavut and advances in DNA sexing techniques. Journal of Mammalogy 86(1):160-169.
• Crompton, Ashleigh E. et al. 2008. Population genetic structure in polar bears from Hudson Bay, Canada: implications for future climate change. Biological Conservation 141: 2528-2539.
• Cronin, M. A. et al. 2006. Microsatellite DNA and mitochrondrial DNA variation in polar bears from the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 84: 655-660.
• Maier, Caroline Alexandra.  2001. Building phylogenetic trees from DNA sequence data: investigating polar bear and giant panda ancestry. The American Biology Teacher. Volume 63 (9): 642-646.
• Paetkau, D. et al. 1995. Microsatellite analysis of population structure in Canadian polar bears. Molecular Ecology 4: 347-354.
• Paetkau, D. et al. 1999. Genetic structure of the world’s polar bear populations. Molecular Ecology 8: 1571-1584.
• Schliebe, Scott L. et al. 1999. Using genetics to verify sex of harvested polar bears: management implications. Wildlife Society Bulletin 27(3): 592-597.
• Thiemann, Gregory W. et al. 2008. Polar bear conservation in Canada: an ecological basis for identifying designatable units. Oryx 42(4): 504-515.

(TOPIC 2) The global plight of amphibians – what has gone wrong?


• Young, B., S. Stuart, J. Chanson, N. A. Cox, and T. M. Boucher. 2004. Disappearing Jewels: The Status of NewWorld Amphibians. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. © NatureServe 2004 ISBN 0-9711053-1-6


• Adams, M.J., Schindler, D.E., and Bury, R.B., 2001, Association of amphibians with attenuation of ultraviolet-b radiation in montane ponds: Oecologia, v. 128, no. 4, p. 519-525.
• Burrowes, P.A., Joglar, R.J., and Green, D.E., 2004, Potential causes for amphibian declines in Puerto Rico: Herpetologica, v. 60, no. 2, p. 141–154.
• Bury, R.B., 1999, A historical perspective and critique of the declining amphibian crisis: Wildlife Society Bulletin, v. 27, no. 4, p. 1064–1068.
• Carey, C., W. R. Heyer, J. Wilkinson, R. A. Alford, J. W. Arntzen, T. Halliday, L. Hungerford, K. R. Lips, E. M. Middleton, S. A. Orchard, and A. S. Rand. 2001. Amphibian declines and environmental change: an overview. Conservation Biology 15(4): 903-913.
• Collins, J. and A. Storfer.  2003. Global amphibian declines: sorting the hypotheses.  Diversity and Distributions. 9:89-98
• Corn, P.S., 2003, Amphibian breeding and climate change – The importance of snow in the mountains: Conservation Biology, v. 17, no. 2, p. 622–625.
• Corser, J.D., 2001, Decline of disjunct green salamander populations (Aneides aeneus) in the southern Appalachians: Biological Conservation, v. 97, no. 1, p. 119-126.
• Daszak, P., Berger, L., Cunningham, A.A., Hyatt, A.D., Green, D.E., and Speare, R., 1999, Emerging infectious diseases and amphibian population declines: Emerging Infectious Diseases, v. 5, no. 6, p. 735-748.
• Drost, C.A., and Fellers, G.M., 1996, Collapse of a regional frog fauna in the Yosemite area of the California Sierra Nevada., USA: Conservation Biology, v. 10, no. 2, p. 414-425.
• Lips, K. R., J. R. Mendelson III, A. Muñoz Alonso, L. Canseco-Marquez, and D. G. Mulcahy. 2004. Direct evidence of declines in amphibian populations in montane southern Mexico. Biological Conservation 119: 555-564.
• Lips, K. R., J. Reeve, and L. Witters. 2003. Ecological factors predicting amphibian population declines in Central America. Conservation Biology 17(4): 1078-1088.
• Lips, K. R. 1999. Mass mortality of the anuran fauna at an upland site in Panama. Conservation Biology 13(1): 117-125.
• Lips, K. R. 1998. Decline of a Tropical Amphibian Fauna. Conservation Biology 12(1): 106-117.
• Norris, S. 2007. Ghosts in our midst: coming to terms with amphibian extinctions. BioScience 57(4): 311-316
• Smith, K.G., 2005, Effects of nonindigenous tadpoles on native tadpoles in Florida – Evidence of competition: Biological Conservation, v. 123, no. 4, p. 433-441.
• Sparling, D.W., Fellers, G.M., and McConnell, L.L., 2001, Pesticides and amphibian declines in California, USA: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 20, no. 7, p. 1591-1595.
• Stallard, R.F., 2001, Possible environmental factors underlying amphibian decline in eastern Puerto Rico – Analysis of government data archives: Conservation Biology, v. 15, no. 4, p. 943-953.
•  Wake, D.B., and V.T. Vrenenburg. 2008. Are we in the midst of the 6th mass extinction? A view from the world of amphibians. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 105 (Suppl.1): 11466-11473.
• Young, B., K. Lips, J. Reaser, R. Ibáñez, A. Salas, R. Cedeño, L. Coloma, S. Ron, E. LaMarca, J. Meyer, A. Muñoz, F. Bolaños, G. Chavez, D. Romo. 2001. Population declines and priorities for amphibian conservation in Latin America. Conservation Biology 15(5): 1213-1223.


• Amphibiaweb:
• Global Amphibian Assessment: 

(TOPIC 3) Conservation advocacy and marketing philosophies in modern zoos – opposites or partnership?


• Kleiman, DG, et al. 1996. Wild Mammals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill.


• Galbraith, David A. and William A. Rapley.  2005.  Research at Canadian zoos and botanical gardens.  Museum and Curatorship 20: 313-331


• World Association of Zoos and Aquariums:

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The Essay

The essay is “open-topic” within the general area of the Role of Zoos in Conservation. This means that you may select your own topic, but you must have your topic approved by Prof. Williams before you begin.

Your essay must be well written and organized, and proof-read for typographical errors. Only a typed paper copy will be accepted, and the submission deadline is 4:30 pm, on February 11th, 2009 (in Room S-544). Maximum length is 15 pages, double spaced, including tables and figures. Do not be tempted to use an essay-writing service, as UTSC is very good at identifying these.

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Reading Material Associated with Lectures

Lecture 5

• Biggins, D.E., Vargas, A. Godbey, J. and S.H. Anderson. 1999. Influence of prerelease experience on reintroduced black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes). Biological Conservation 89:121-129.
Paper discusses the importance of prerelease training. Authors monitored postrelease behaviours of black-footed ferrets that were moved to outdoor pens with prairie dog burrows prior to release and those that remained in cages. Those reared in outdoor pens traveled less, likely decreasing exposure to predators and low resource environments.

• Bryant, A.A., Schwantje, H.M. and N.I. de With. 2002. Disease and unsuccessful reintroduction of Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis). P 101-107 in K.B. Armitage and V.U. Runianstev (ed): Holarctic Marmots as a Factor of Biodiversity. ABF Publishing House, Moscow.
Authors conducted an experimental translocation of 6 animals from 3 different colonies from logged habitats to sub-alpine meadow. Two dispersed from site, one later found predated, one never found. The other 4 died during hibernation, likely due to bacterial infection. Authors recommend not reintroducing animals in such small numbers and stress the importance of examining introduced habitats for pathogens. Some animals did bond to release site and entered hibernation, so authors felt that there is potential to have a successful reintroduction in the future.

• Gedir, J.V., Everest, T. and A. Moehrenschlager. 2004. Evaluating the potential for species reintroductions in Canada. In T.D. Hooper (ed.) Proceedings of the Species at Risk 2004 Pathways to Recovery Conference. March 2-6, 2004, Victoria B.C. Species at Rick 2004 Pathways to Recovery Conference Organizing Committee, Victoria, B.C.
Paper is an overview of ecological and socio-political variables that impact potential for future reintroductions in Canada. Authors discuss ideal candidates for reintroductions in Canada when these factors, as well as biological factors are taken into consideration. They feel that the Queen Charlotte Island ermine, American badger, pallid bat, barn owl, white-headed woodpecker and the stinkpot demonstrate greatest potential.

• Kleiman, D.G. 1989. Reintroduction of captive mammals for conservation. BioScience 39.3:152-161.
Paper discusses what is necessary to have a successful reintroduction programme, as well as when reintroduction is not appropriate.

• Matthews, F., Moro, D., Strachn,R., Gelling, M., and N. Buller. 2006. Health surveillance in wildlife reintroductions. Biological conservation 131:228-347.
Paper discusses the paucity of data on health-screening of reintroduced and translocated animals, even baseline data. The authors report two case studies of heath surveillance, the water voles in the UK, and marsupial dibblers in Australian. The authors stress the importance of such surveys to predict survival and avoid disease transfer, and provide recommendation for monitoring schemes.

• Watters, J.V., and C.L. Meehan. 2007. Different strokes: Can managing behavioral types increase post-release success? Applied Animal Behaviour Science 102:364-379.
Authors discuss the need to maintain behavioural differences at the population level, so that groups can be more able to respond to an unpredictable environment. They recommend investigating the processes that lead to the expression of different behavioural types within species before releasing so as not to create a uniform behaviour within the reintroduced populations.

• Wisely, S.M., Santymire, R.M., Livieri, T.M., Marinari, P.E., Kreeger, J.S., Wildt, D.E., and J. Howard. 2005. Environment influences morphology and development for in situ and ex situ populations of the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes). Animal Conservation 8:321-328.
Authors investigated causes of morphological changes that occur in captive populations of black-footed ferrets. Found that successive generations born in the wild revert to pre-captive size, indicating that the morphological changes are not a result of genetics but of the captive environment. Authors stress the complexity of captive breeding, especially when attempting to maintain the natural makeup of the species. Authors recommend increasing enclosure size of ferrets in captivity to attempt to ameliorate these changes in future captive generations.

Lecture 9

• Bowles, M.L. and C.J. Whelan. 1994. Restoration of endangered species: conceptual issues, planning and implementation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 394 pp.

• Caughley, G. and A. Gunn. 1996. Conservation biology in theory and practice. Blackwell Science, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 459 pp.

• Gibbon, E.F. Jr, B.S. Durrant and J. Demarest. 1995. Conservation of endangered species in captivity: an interdisciplinary approarch. State University of New York Press, Albany, New York. 809 pp.

• Olney, P. J. S., G. M. Mace and A. T. C. Feistner. 1994. Creative conservation: interactive management of wild and captive animals.  Chapman & Hall, London, UK, 517 pp.

• Primack, R.B. 1998. Essentials of conservation biology. 2nd edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts. 660 pp.

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