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Conservation and Our Hobby

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by schmiggle, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

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    @wizentrop @SonsofArachne here, I made you a thread to order.

    Sadly, without a lot of care that can usually only come from top down control in a captive breeding program, I think the three most common issues in trying to preserve species as a hobby are reduced heterozygosity (read: genetic variation) due to inbreeding and founder effects, mixing of individuals from different areas which leads to loss of genetic differences between populations, and different natural selection pressure in captivity as compared with the wild. But that's just me. What are people's thoughts on this topic?
     
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  2. mantisfan101

    mantisfan101 Arachnobaron Active Member

    I personally believe that a few wild caught individuals every now and then would be nice to mix up the gene pool every now and then. Now when I say this I don’t mean to start exporting wild caught animals en masse but just a few. I am also talking about the LEGAL importation of wildlife(which is an entirely different topic by itself).
     
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  3. SonsofArachne

    SonsofArachne Arachnodemon Active Member

    I've stated this before (and had several arguments over it) but captive breeding for the pet trade can be beneficial by reducing or eliminating the demand for wild caught animals. In fact this may be the only thing being done in the hobby that is truly beneficial to conservation. It still mystifies me that some people can't seem to get their heads around this concept. I'm not claiming that captive breeding is the only thing that needs to be done but everything I read on subject indicates the approach of making import of animals in pet trade illegal only increases the demand -and increases the value to smugglers. While I believe most people on arachnoboards wouldn't be involved in buying endangered or illegal to own species, we are only a fraction of the pet trade market, and many people don't know or care about how their exotic pets entered their country. So captive breeding is the only real solution, by reducing demand for wild caught animals and reducing their value to smugglers.
     
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  4. Hisserdude

    Hisserdude Arachnoprince Active Member

    In roaches at least, once a species is established in captivity, inbreeding is almost NEVER an issue, and said species are rarely ever imported again, (since inbreeding doesn't seem to cause them any issues, almost no one wants to waste time, money or effort to bring in new strains of the same species), which is good for the wild populations. One species in the hobby, Simandoa conserfariam, is actually EXTINCT in the wild, and only exists now thanks to us hobbyists breeding them... So in Blatticulture at least, with most species that are kept in captivity, secondary imports are nonexistent, and thus we make little enviormental impact, and likely help with conservation of some species long term.
     
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  5. MasterOogway

    MasterOogway Arachnosquire Active Member

    I don't think you're hanging around the right parts of the forum then ;). Walking sticks, mantids, beetles and all manner of insects routinely pop up as 'check out my new thing, what do I do with it' threads and almost all are illegal to own. I don't see many endangered species, true; but for a lot of our T's I suspect most of what we know for their wild habitats is actually data deficient, and they'll probably end up being endangered. Even a couple of the more commonly available ones (P. rufilata anyone?) we know are endangered in the wild.
     
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  6. SonsofArachne

    SonsofArachne Arachnodemon Active Member


    I should have made it clearer, by illegal to own I was thinking brown boxing. And while I know a lot of inverts in the hobby got here through brown boxing, but once they're here and being bred I consider them fair game. This maybe a case of situational ethics, but it's not like they're going to be sent back once they're here. And the same goes for phasmids, mantids etc. technically illegal but nobody seems to care, so fair game.
     
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  7. MasterOogway

    MasterOogway Arachnosquire Active Member

    Aphis cares! I'm getting inspected soon at my facility. They have confiscated from private individuals before and I suspect they could and might again in the future. Also, if an animal is illegally exported from a source country and comes into our country, it's still illegal under the Lacey Act and I suspect a few other provisions. Take the newly smuggled in blue morph of Adelphobates galactonatus that was brought in through Europe. It was smuggled out of Brazil to get there, so while being 'legally' imported into the US is still very much illegal to own. The government absolutely can, has, and will come after you for Lacey Act violations. I think the philosophy of "oh, it's here now so may as well get some" is misguided and will send the message that we really don't care about smuggling.
     
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  8. SonsofArachne

    SonsofArachne Arachnodemon Active Member

    I personally don't own any illegals but I don't look down at people who are buying them CB in the US. If you look at FB, dealer sites, shows, ebay, etc. you see CB (and some WC, to be fair) technically illegal inverts being sold openly, They may be going after importers and brown boxers, but they don't seem to care once they're here. I mean Palp Friction was allowed to keep all the T. selodonia they already had after their last shipment was confiscated, what does that tell you? I personally don't see anything wrong with buying cb inverts that are in the US already. It's not like they're ever going to be sent back to their native countries.
     
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  9. Gogyeng

    Gogyeng Arachnopeon Active Member

    Inverts in general are quite resistent to inbreeding, in the case of many phasmids which tend to include parthenogenesis, loss of heterozygosity would be probably less of an issue.For arachnids thats not necessarily true as schmiggle mentions above. I also always wondered how captive breeding accounts for genetic variability in species like T. seladonia, M.balfouri and P.metallica. How inbred now is P.metallica now by the way? any ideas?
     
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  10. Salmonsaladsandwich

    Salmonsaladsandwich Arachnobaron Active Member

    I'm not sure how true that is. In the example of phasmids, in at least some species where sexual and parthenogenic reproduction both exist, the parthenogenic specimens are weaker and develop more slowly while the sexual populations can exhibit signs of inbreeding over time, which has been seen in Extatosoma tiaratum.

    Moths are extremely susceptible to inbreeding, often showing signs of weakness or even dying off after just one or two generations. Maintaining populations of saturniid moths in captivity is difficult, and hobbyists are dependent on the constant introduction of wild stock to keep captive populations healthy.

    People say that roaches don't show signs of inbreeding, but is that because they're any more immune, or just because they're extremely hardy animals to begin with and don't suffer noticeable consequences in captivity?
     
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  11. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Thanks for this. I would have been extremely surprised if arthropods didn't show inbreeding, but didn't have anything to back up my hunch with.

    Didn't know about saturniid moths. That's depressing. It seems like people should be able to organize interbreeding.
     
  12. Gogyeng

    Gogyeng Arachnopeon Active Member

    Right, I can only tell about carassius morossus the indian stick insect, for which I have seen many generations parthenogenetics-only myself and yet haven't seen any detrimental effects on the offsprings morphology, behaviour including ability to breed. But thats does not generalize to other spp yes. Inbreeding in Moths is brutal indeed. I bred for a while the Eri Silk moth, Samia Cynthia, and observed a larger proportion of speciments with "curled" wings syndrome coming out of their cocoons. I wonder if this could be truly due inbreeding, though, since most could still breed. I wonder however how much inbreeding actually is coped with in the regular silk moth, bombyx mori, from which some varieties seem heavily inbred, are almost incapable of flying, and yet survive.
     
  13. Dry Desert

    Dry Desert Arachnobaron Active Member

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    If you think continuous captive breeding is the only way forward take a look at the reptile world, snakes in particular, with continuous captive breeding of Ball pythons and Boas and the many problems there now exist due to C. B.
    @mantisfan101 has the right idea - but then isn't that what CITIES is all about ?
     
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  14. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Eh, if people were less ridiculous about snake breeds and would just buy wild type a lot of this issue would never have come up.

    The fact is that we, as humans, have captive strains with perfectly healthy genetic variation--cows, sheep, lab rats, C. elegans, etc. It's not necessary to import new animals to keep this the way it is, and there are many species for which I would say that if the only way to keep them long term were to continuously collect them, we should just skip them. There are many species that we import that are restricted to individual caves or mountains, and while these populations are fine with one collection, I'm not sure that almost any repeated collection would be sustainable. A lot of these, especially the ones from caves, are very slowly growing and may not experience much predation in the wild.

    I thought I had said it above, but I guess I didn't. What we really need with most of these species is some kind of stud book--people list what species they have, at what population and of what sexes, and then list the parentage. It's not perfect, because you often don't know the exact parentage, but you can almost always get it down to one colony. That way you can avoid inbreeding.

    Also, the fact that people try to breed for odd characteristics weakens the strain with those characteristics. These characteristics are often deleterious to begin with, and breeding them together makes this issue worse.
     
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  15. Gogyeng

    Gogyeng Arachnopeon Active Member

    Very well said, Schmiggle. Totally agree.
     
  16. MasterOogway

    MasterOogway Arachnosquire Active Member

    My colony of E. tiaratum which has been going for several years at this point, is showing decided effects of inbreeding. Small adults, malformed eggs, poor hatch rates all can be signs of inbreeding depression. I still get plenty of healthy adults, but am seeing more and more 'weird' individuals pop up too.
     
  17. wizentrop

    wizentrop to the rescue! Old Timer

    I somehow missed this thread. I should say that this discussion originated in this thread, so head over there if you want to know my take on things.
    Unfortunately, I did not find the time to collect my thoughts on the matter. There is a lot to say about this topic. Due to time constraints, my reply here is brief.

    The statement that made me a bit uneasy was that keeping animals in captivity may be the only way to keep them alive or ensure their survival. My opinion on this is controversial and most likely will not win me any friends here. That's ok. To reiterate what I wrote in the original thread -
    It is a harsh thing to say, and I apologize if this comes off as a slap in the face. My intention is never to hurt anyone. That being said, consider that quote and realize that it is true.
    Now, I completely agree that having a species established in captive breeding does help to reduce its collection from the wild (ONLY after the species is established well as captive bred. Until then it is still being wild collected), however this is where the help ends. Keeping it in captivity does not ensure its overall survival because these animals will stay forever in captivity. They turn into pet hobby populations.

    Moreover, the animals that are kept in captivity for many generations become very different from their wild counterparts over time because of inbreeding (members mentioned saturniid moths, and I can also tell you from my own experience working in an insectarium that orthopterans and some beetles are also very sensitive and become weaker over time), but also because they are not exposed to the same environmental conditions that trigger various behaviors or favor selected phenotypes needed for the species' survival. Such environmental conditions can be "hobby trivial" (the classic temperature/humidity/substrate type), but sometimes they can be more complex (photoperiod/air pressure/microclimate/food diversity/microbial fauna), or downright impossible to replicate (natural disturbances/predation selection/interspecies competition etc').

    But you don't have to take it from me. Here's a new study that shows exactly that in hand-reared monarch butterflies. Published today:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/science...ared-monarch-butterflies-dont-migrate/592423/

    * Edited for silly typos. Should be readable right now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019 at 4:00 PM
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  18. Arthroverts

    Arthroverts Arachnobaron Active Member

    So, what can we do to help protect the species in the wild, and yet satiate the demand from the market?

    Because lets face it, the demand is not going to go away, but we can't keep taking creatures from the wild if this hobby is only going to continue to grow and demand more and more animals, for genetic diversity or otherwise. The invertebrate hobby IN GENERAL seems to have gotten much better at sourcing CB specimens, as I can quickly find a CB tarantula, roach, or scorpion without too much trouble, but when it comes to, say, exotic isopods, I will have a choice between waiting on the off chance that some breeder will have the species I'm looking for at an exorbitant price, or buy a cheap(er) WC starter colony.

    We can discuss this all day long, but at the end of the day, will the hobby be any better for it if we don't actually figure out a plan of action?

    Thanks,

    Arthroverts
     
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  19. Gogyeng

    Gogyeng Arachnopeon Active Member

    Well, I think that instead of trying to legitimize the hobby of keeping with captive breeding in sight, we could do better tracking lineage.

    I found the following link concerning inbreeding effects on social spiders (Anelosimus)
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jeb.12022
    That being said some effort in determining the comparative minimum viable population for several species is being made, ranking for insect species a starting pool of around 4000 or so.

    https://www.researchgate.net/profil...ished-estimates.pdf?origin=publication_detail

    So perhaps with a coordinated effort of tracing ancestorship and bloodlines we could determine wether the community holds enough specimens kept in captivity to be considered a genetic reserve-pool. Perhaps particular species are more resilient to show effects of inbreeding in few generations, but lets face it with coordinated efforts of breeding perhaps it is possible. Just an optimistic thought.
     
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  20. Arthroverts

    Arthroverts Arachnobaron Active Member

    @Gogyeng, I agree that would be awesome in order to maintain gene pool diversity.
    However, not all of the hobbyists out there are on Arachnoboards (where most of these conversations take place I assume), and aside from a select few breeders and hobbyists, I don't think most of the invertebrate community is disturbed by this enough to even care. We can see even in this thread, the users discussing this issue in here are semi-regularly to regularly discussing these issues, even though we make up less then a percentage point of the total Arachnoboards users.
    On top of that, this would put the hobby on the level of dog breeding, where every dog is marked and tracked in some way in order to assure siblings don't breed (at least that is what I understand, whether or not that is true in practice I leave for someone more knowledgable then me to clarify). With dogs you have a smaller number of individuals per litter to keep track of, where with tarantulas and other invertebrates you can have literally hundreds to thousands of spiderlings/nymphs/babies of some sort to keep track of. In short, it would be near impossible to keep records of every animal that passes through your hands.
    See what I'm saying?

    Thanks,

    Arthroverts
     
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