NS  Vol.5 No.8 , August 2013
Conservation of endangered animals: From biotechnologies to digital preservation

In the recent years, the number of endangered animals, both referred to livestock and wild species, has grown enormously. The “livestock” term refers to animals domesticated for producing commodities for man such as food, fiber and draught. Livestock biodiversity is integral to our culture, history, environment, and economy. Thousands of livestock breeds have evolved over time to suit particular environments and farming systems. Conservation and analyses of these genetic resources rely on demographic characterization and correct breeding schemes. In addition, molecular genetic studies allow to identify and monitor the genetic diversity within and across breeds and to reconstruct their evolution history. The conservation of livestock variability is also a crucial element in order to preserve and valorise specific nutritional and nutraceutical properties of animal products. Efficient ex situ and in situ conservation strategies, as well as the creation of bio-banks and specific biotechnological and bioinformatics tools for genetic analyses and digital preservation, are obligatory requirements in order to implement an appropriate action for the conservation of animal biodiversity. The main issues concerning different species are summarised, with particular reference to the livestock biodiversity still existing. Some examples of ex situ conservation strategies, which mainly refer to cryoconservation of semen, ova, embryos or tissues, developed in Italy, are presented, and the different actions in defense of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) developed within the European Community are illustrated. Interestingly, the same strategies for biological and digital analyses and preservation of livestock biodiversity can be exported to wild endangered animals in order to plan a correct conservation and repopulation of the species. Furthermore, the European Union has set up the guidelines to safeguard the biodiversity and to combat the extinction of animal species, and has made the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems one of the main objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme.

Cite this paper
Pizzi, F. , Caroli, A. , Landini, M. , Galluccio, N. , Mezzelani, A. and Milanesi, L. (2013) Conservation of endangered animals: From biotechnologies to digital preservation. Natural Science, 5, 903-913. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.58109.
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