The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plans (SSPs) are
cooperative programs which pool animals across AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums
to manage them as populations. Common goals of SSP programs are to maintain
sustainable populations in zoos to serve as insurance for wild populations and
to meet the conservation and education goals of AZA member institutions. SSP
programs are coordinated by a Program Leader and advised by the AZA Population
Management Center (PMC), a group of scientific advisors based at Lincoln Park
Zoo. The PMC regularly (often annually) analyzes a population’s demographics and
genetics and works with the SSP Program Leader to develop a breeding and
transfer plan that includes detailed recommendations for each individual within
the population. After a 30-day comment period, the PMC distributes the finalized
breeding and transfer recommendations to each institution cooperating in the SSP
and the institutions act upon the recommendations in the following months.
Since 2000, the PMC has issued thousands of recommendations to hundreds of
institutions; however there is no systematic evaluation of the recommendation
outcomes. Was an animal actually transferred? Was the pair put together to
breed? If a recommendation wasn’t carried out, was it because of logistical
issues, communication problems, or reproductive problems with the animals
themselves? To address these issues, scientists at the Lincoln Park Zoo and the
PMC developed PMCTrack with a three-year year Institute of Museum and Library
Services (IMLS) grant. PMCTrack is a web-based database and monitoring system
designed to collect feedback and evaluate the outcomes of breeding and transfer
recommendations. PMCTrack will provide the data necessary to make informed
changes and improvements in AZA’s population management strategies.
PMCTrack compiles data on all previously published final plans. This historic
data provides an understanding of the baseline rates of recommendation
fulfillment. As more plans are completed in the future, PMCTrack will be used by
Program Leaders and the PMC to pinpoint management challenges that need to be
addressed with more research, to track whether rates of recommendation
fulfillment improve over time, and to understand more about each managed
program, as well as how the AZA management system works across programs.
PMCTrack provides restricted access to specific users involved in SSP management
and coordination; the types of information each user can view is based on their
role and program affiliations, which ensures the privacy and appropriate use of
the information gathered within the monitoring system. PMC staff, Program
Leaders (SSP Coordinators), Institutional Representatives, Institutional
Liaisons, and Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG) Chairs use PMCTrack to monitor and
better understand the status of cooperatively managed programs. PMCTrack
provides users with these exciting features:
Role-based dashboards: Everyone involved with a particular SSP program has a
personalized dashboard. Dashboards provide a quick snapshot of current program
status and summarized statistics.
Reports: Detailed reports are tailored to each person’s role within a managed
program – e.g. Institutional Liaisons will be able to view information on their
institution’s participation in SSPs and Program Leaders will be able to view
information on their program’s management. Reports give summary information
about the SSP programs and their planning history, and recommendation outcomes
for SSPs. Reports include filtering capabilities as well as Excel export for
further analysis or printing.
“Wants/Needs Survey”: An updated and standardized “Wants/Needs Survey” can be
used to collect important information from Institutional Representatives and
collates the data for Program Leaders to use while planning with the PMC.
“Outcomes Survey”: The new “Outcomes Survey” collects feedback from
Institutional Representatives about the outcomes of the previous breeding and
transfer recommendations. The reasons for the unfulfilled outcomes are collated
for Program Leaders and the PMC to consider and make informed management
PMCTrack provides the necessary tools and data to understand, monitor, and
improve AZA’s cooperative population management system and, ultimately, the
long-term population viability for species across AZA institutions. We look
forward to your involvement with PMCTrack!
If you have any further questions,
please contact us at pmctrack(at)lpzoo.org.