from Many Places: Building Genetic Diversity
Thank you, Sara Zimorski
are carefully shipped in special boxes.
Photo Bev Paulan, Operation Migration
Do Eggs for the New Flocks Come From?
spring, some special Whooping Crane eggs laid by captive cranes are
packed for traveling. They're shipped to Maryland's Patuxent Wildlife
captive breeding facilities across the US and Canada. Why? At first
there were no adult cranes in the new eastern flock. That meant no eggs
and no baby chicks. The solution was to take eggs laid by captive Whoopers.
Those eggs could hatch into chicks
part of the new Eastern
Flock, and later also for the new Louisiana nonmigratory flock. The captive whoopers live at
breeding facilities that are part of the Whooping
Crane Eastern Partnership. Captive whoopers are
helping to bring g Whooping Cranes back to Eastern North America where they were wiped out decades ago.
Building Genetic Diversity
eggs from different places is
important. Doing so makes the gene pool of the Eastern Flock more
diverse; more diverse genetics create stronger, more resilient
example, the first eight birds for the Class of 2007 came from
The San Antonio Zoo (#702), The Calgary Zoo (#703 and #706),
Wildlife Research Center (#704, #707 and #710) and
a poorly placed nest in the Florida Non-migratory Population
(#708 and #709). Additional chicks came from The International
Crane Foundation (ICF), The Audubon Centre for Research of Endangered
Species, and an abandoned nest in Wisconsin. That's a good variety of egg
parents of the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) birds also add new genetics
to the Eastern flock. The DAR program allows pairs (particularly at
ICF) who lay eggs too late to
be included in
to contribute their
genetics to this new population through chicks that are released directly
into the wild. These direct autumn release (DAR) chicks learn the eastern
migration route by following older birds who were once part of the
from many places
is an example of the power of partnership — the Whooping Crane
Eastern Partnership — in action.
The Captive Flocks:
captive flocks consist of 148 (2010 figures) birds
at five breeding centers and six
display facilities. They
play an important role in recovery of this endangered species:
birds safeguard the genetic
of the wild birds.
produce offspring for the ultralight-led
release (DAR) reintroduction programs.
breeding facilities also provide homes for Whooping cranes with health
problems that make
them unsuitable for release into the wild.
This! Journal Questions
- Why is
a diverse gene pool important to the survival of a species?
- How do
you feel about keeping captive groups of an endangered species?
North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).