C2S2/SPA offers genomics assessments at the metapopulation, herd/facility, and/or individual animal level to help inform animal management. Through conducting genomics assessments on herds within the metapopulation, we compare genomics with other participants to determine genetically under- or over-represented individuals across the population.
Genomics testing can identify liabilities to your population that may be costing money, or alternative that can pinpoint quality animals. Examples include:
- Genetically valuable/ invaluable relative to the general population
- Related to others in the herd or a herd you are transferring animals with
- Hybridized, reducing the genetic value of the herd and species
- Optimal breeding matches across zoos, private collections, and the wild
This approach can also offer – for the first time – a personalized way to improve conservation breeding by: 1) identifying historic lineages and estimating relatedness; 2) providing details on ideal matings (to avoid inbreeding and promote species robustness); and 3) offering ways to identify genes that improve fitness, for example, by ensuring high fertility or resistance to disease. The latter approach could also be used to identify those animals most likely to adapt and survive the rigors of reintroduction to the wild.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and African Lion Safari are collaborating within C2S2 to develop DNA Services for wildlife managers representing breeding centers, private sector, and zoos. Besides helping to ensure genetically viable populations ex situ, using this revolutionary technology will allow addressing priority scholarly questions while examining the status of counterparts living in the wild.