Scientists studying zebra poo for answers
IT’S a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.
Scientists at the University of Manchester and Chester Zoo are studying ZEBRA POO in a bid to work out how global warming is affecting animals.
By measuring hormones in the poo the experts are able to gauge the stress levels of the zebras and establish how things such as climate change and the loss of their natural habitat are affecting their well-being.
The unusual branch of research, which studied herds of South Africa’s Cape mountain zebra, has been dubbed ‘poo science’ and it’s hoped it could eventually be used to help protect endangered species from extinction.
But sadly the initial findings don’t make for happy reading.
The research found that the mountain zebras are facing multiple problems, including poor habitat and gender imbalances, which are likely to harm their health, have repercussions for their reproduction and, ultimately, their long-term survival.
But Dr Susanne Shultz, from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the university, said the approach could have major benefits for animal conservation.
She added: “Faecal hormone measurements are easy to collect without disturbing the animals and provide a window into the chronic stress animals are experiencing.
“Using these indicators we can establish the health of both individuals and populations.”
It’s hoped ‘poo science’ will also be able to tell conservationists how other species might respond to any future environmental changes.
Dr Sue Walker, head of applied science at Chester Zoo, said: “This project is a fantastic example of how we can use this knowledge and skills to also help the conservation of wild animals threatened with extinction.”