Flock size and structure have been found to affect reproductive success in flamingos

Conservation Research: Conserving Flamingo Populations – Size Matters

Flamingo study results infographic. Photo credit: Dr. Andrew Mooney

Flocking flamingos in groups of 50 or more may be a key to encouraging successful breeding, according to a study published this month zoobiology. Researchers used global data shared by zoos and aquariums to study reproductive success and factors such as climate, flock numbers and an equal sex ratio in four species of flamingos in 540 ex situ populations worldwide. The zoos and aquariums curate data on groups of flamingos using the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) provided by the non-profit organization Species360.

The open-access paper reviews strategies for promoting reproductive success in ex situ populations of flamingos or flamingos living in zoological facilities such as wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and aquariums. Population managers in the national and regional zoo and aquarium associations and other organizations can use this information to provide guidelines for the protection and conservation of flamingo populations.

The Conservation Science Alliance (CSA) and data analysts and population management scientists from the University of Southern Denmark worked with lead researcher Dr. Andrew Mooney, Conservation and Research Officer at Dublin Zoo and former Ph.D. Student at CSA who graduated from Trinity College Dublin to complete his studies.

By applying modern analysis to ZIMS data, the team determined that ex situ flamingo flocks should number up to 50–100 individuals and consist of a balanced sex ratio to promote reproduction and sustain populations. Additionally, adding new individuals to a flock can sometimes seem to spice things up and increase reproductive success, while climatic variables play a limited role.

dr Johanna Stärk, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of Southern Denmark and the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance, said: “High-quality data collected by Species360 members worldwide is crucial to improve our understanding of what animals do in human life At the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance, we aim to transform ZIMS data into actionable recommendations by working closely with researchers and species experts. This study is an excellent example of such a successful collaboration that could lead to more sustainable population management and improved global conservation efforts for flamingos.”

Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Mooney says, “We used current and historical zoological records from Species360 member institutions to study how flock size and structure affect reproductive success in captive flamingos. We combined demographic data with high-resolution global climate data within the same statistical modeling framework to provide a more complete view of the determinants of reproductive success in captive flamingo populations, while revealing temporal trends in institutional flock sizes. This was observed first-hand at Dublin Zoo, where we found that adding new birds to our Chilean flamingo flock stimulated reproduction the following year, while rainfall had little effect.”

More information:
Andrew Mooney et al, Flock size and structure affect reproductive success in four species of flamingos in 540 captive populations worldwide, zoobiology (2023). DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21753

Citation: Flock Size and Structure Affecting Reproductive Success in Flamingos (2023 January 26) retrieved January 26, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-flock-size-reproductive-success-flamingos .html

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