Understanding How Populations Change
Population biology is an interdisciplinary field integrating concepts of demography, population genetics, ecology and evolution as it considers population dynamics for a species. Lincoln Park Zoo supports the application of population biology theories to the management of zoo populations because scientifically managed populations are more likely to be healthy and persist into the future.
Applied population biology approaches are also becoming more and more important for wild populations as they become smaller and more isolated. Because small populations are more at risk of decline and extinction due to demographic, genetic and environmental factors, understanding these factors is essential to diagnosing and mitigating a population’s risk of extinction.
The ultimate goal of the zoo’s research in applied population biology is to understand what puts animal populations at risk of extinction or decline as well as how management actions can impact that risk. This research occurs in field and captive populations, including:
- Conducting hypothesis-driven research to evaluate and adapt theoretical population biology for small populations
- Conducting risk assessments to identify and quantify threats to the survival of wild and captive animal populations
- Assessing and developing science-based approaches to reintroductions that can be used as a conservation strategy
- Developing software to promote the wide use of science-based concepts in the management of populations