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Selection in Captive Populations

abstract1 (full description below): In Ralls and Ballou (eds.), Genetic Management of captive populations. Zoo Biology 5: 127-138. 1986
Selection in Captive Populations. PDF/Acrobat file  

We have briefly reviewed types of genetic variation and selection in the wild as contrasted with selection in captive populations, along with the objectives of captive breeding programs, before recommending selection procedures for the genetic management of captive populations. Although some inadvertent selection for tameness and adaptation to captive environments is inevitable in captive populations, any selection that is actively applied to captive populations should have clearly defined objectives. In the long term there is little doubt that functions essential to survival in the wild (eg, flight from predators, ability to capture live prey) will be lost in captive populations unless they are subject to selection. This is clearly indicated by analogy with the loss of flight in birds on islands without predators and the loss of sight in cave organisms. Such losses of functions will normally occur over evolutionary time scales so they will only be of concern in very long-term captive population management.