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Zebra ‘poo science’ improves conservation efforts according to scientists

Zebra ‘poo science’ improves conservation efforts according to scientists Photo: Manchester University

Scientists from The University of Manchester and Chester Zoo have been in Africa investigating how can Zebra poo tell us what an animal’s response to climate change and habitat destruction will be.

Together the team have been using ‘poo science’ to understand how challenges or ‘stressors’, such as the destruction and breakup of habitats, impact on populations of South Africa’s Cape mountain zebra.

The research, which is published in the Functional Ecology journal, found that zebras are facing multiple challenges, including poor habitat and gender imbalances, which are likely to compromise their health, have repercussions for their reproduction and, ultimately, a population’s long term survival.

Dr Susanne Shultz, the senior author from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Manchester, said: "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."