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What methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin? Free essay! Download now

Home > A Level > Biology > What methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin?

What methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin?

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What methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin? essay previewWhat methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin? essay previewWhat methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin? essay preview

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What methods do scientists use to conserve and protect the golden lion tamarin?

The problem
The golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) live in a small area of the Atlantic coastal region of Brazil. According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park there are 1,500 golden lion tamarins living in the wild now [1] but they were thought to be ‘extinct until 1970s when discovered in the costal forest of Brazil’ [2].


The map shows how limited their native habitat is, precisely only 2% [5] due to habitat destruction from deforestation for; agricultural; cattle pasture; logging and fragmentation [3]. Causing the IUCN to classify the species as endangered [3] as it was at the brink of extinction with less than 100 tamarins in 1984 [4]. The loss of habitat leaves the tamarin hungry and liable to predators as the tamarin use tree holes as shelter and their diet consists of flowers, fruits and insects [4]. In the past, they were frequently captured, for sale as pets in nearby Rio de Janeiro and poached for their ‘strawberry red mane’ [5].

Another problem faced by the tamarin is, inbreeding depression because of its small population. In small populations, the possibility of mating with close relatives increases and results in individuals inheriting homozygous alleles from parents and causes loss of alleles. Inbreeding depression and genetic drift is the technical terms. Therefore, the offspring are ‘genetically unfit’ [6] and the rate of extinction increases.

Biological methods
Fortunately, conservationist from zoo’s and other organisations intervened, a key method used is captive breeding and in our situation was, collaborated by the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, the golden lion tamarin association and the Brazilian government, which has made disciplinary advances to the preservation and protection of the species and its habitat [7].

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Captive breeding is used for ‘increasing the number of individuals of the selected species if numbers are low’ [6] and ‘maintaining genetic diversity within the captive population’. Species are selectively bred and offspring are reintroduced to the wild, if thought to be able to survive. Captive breeding offers a process for conserving species that may be endangered or struggling to survive in the wild. In-situ conservation, is ‘on-site’ conservation and ex-situ is the conservation ‘off-site’ such as captive breeding at zoos [6].

There are requirements needed for appropriate and successful captive breeding programme such as a studbook and co-ordinator. A studbook is a ‘computerized database of all animals in the captive population’ giving details on age, gender, kinship and location. Zoologists, studying this data recognise information on trends and loss of genetic diversity. The kinship value a measure labelling an individual animal of genetically diversity it contains, by multiplying this number to other mating partners there is an overall ...

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