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What is the evidence for the effectiveness of husbandry and management interventions for the conservation and welfare of captive animals? A systematic map protocol

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Lemasson, Anaelle J 
Petrovan, Silviu O 
Smith, Rebecca K 
Sutherland, William J 
Bowkett, Andrew E 


Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, much greater than natural background extinction. This crisis has highlighted the potential role of zoos, aquariums and other captive facilities to mitigate the loss of biodiversity, although their ability to do so is sometimes questioned. Amongst other factors, zoos and aquariums have experienced challenges in sustaining viable populations under managed care (i.e. in captivity), identifying appropriate circumstances and approaches for reintroduction, and addressing societal concerns pertaining to the welfare of captive animals. Robust science-based methodologies must be developed and the effects of zoo- and aquarium-based practices assessed, in order to improve captive animal health and welfare, better manage captive populations, and optimise the success of population management and conservation breeding programmes. There is therefore an increasing need for evidence-based husbandry and management of captive animals for conservation. We propose a systematic map of research on husbandry interventions and practices associated with improving the conservation and welfare of captive animals, better managing their breeding, and other related outcomes. This map, which will be freely available to all, will improve our knowledge of the available evidence for both the commonly used and lesser known interventions and practices aiming to improve the welfare and conservation of captive animals, by answering several questions: Which studies have measured the effects of any possible management and/or husbandry interventions/practices on the conservation and welfare of captive animals? Which husbandry interventions/practices and outcomes have been studied, and which ones are lacking published evidence? For the purpose of this map, we will focus on captive animals kept in zoos and aquariums but will consider evidence from other captive environments where appropriate. Here, we provide the protocol outlining the methods designed to identify and collate into a systematic map the available global evidence for the effectiveness of husbandry interventions and practices for the welfare and conservation of captive animals.



captive management, conservation, evidence synthesis, intervention, systematic map, welfare

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The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums funded this work.