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New study could improve protection efforts for manta rays
These findings suggest that existing protection methods may not be as effective as previously thought.

Researchers uncover evidence of diversity within single species

A new study conducted by an international team of scientists has revealed evidence of a potential new species of manta ray and suggested improvements which could bolster protection efforts for threatened ray species around the world.

The study – published in Molecular Ecology – was co-led by Bangor University, the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, the Roslin Institute, and the Manta Trust. It provides a framework to protect manta and devil ray species threatened by targeted and bycatch fishing.

The research team collected a large, diverse bank of genetic data on ray species, gathering tissue samples from 116 individuals for DNA analysis. By comparing species scientists could then establish an evolutionary family tree. Further analysis from this family tree highlighted the possibility of a new species in the Gulf of Mexico.

Finding subtle differences in genetic make-up between populations of the same species in different geographical areas has important implications for conservation efforts.

The findings suggest that assigning protection based solely on species classification may not be as effective in protecting individuals.

The research team propose that conservation management should now be carried out within species, to account for differences between populations in different parts of the world.

Dr Emily Humble from the Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies said: “Conservation management relies on classifying diversity into discrete categories such as species or population units. For visually similar and elusive animals such as manta and devil rays, this can be challenging.

“Our study illustrates the potential for genomic techniques to capture diversity both within and between species and aid in conservation. The priority now is a formal description of the putative new species in the Atlantic.”

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RCVS launches photo contest for Mental Health Awareness Week

News Story 1
 The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is holding a photo competition for Mental Health Awareness Week to highlight the link between the natural world and wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) aims to encourage people to talk about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can prevent people from seeking help. This year's theme is nature - notably the connection between the natural world and better mental health.

The RCVS is calling on aspiring photographers to submit a photo on this theme to Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters manager, at l.quigley@rcvs.org.uk with a short explanation about their submission and why nature improves their mental health and wellbeing.  

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News Shorts
WSAVA to host free webinar on illegal online puppy trade

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has announced a free webinar to update veterinary professionals across Europe about the illegal online puppy trade. Taking place on Tuesday, 25 May, the webinar will also discuss the importance of the new EU Animal Health Law to help prevent illegal pet sales and make sellers accountable for their actions.

WSAVA chair Dr Natasha Lee said: "Veterinary professionals regularly have to deal with the repercussions of illicit breeding and trading when presented with clinically ill and sometimes dying puppies and distraught owners. Our webinar will equip veterinarians in Europe with the knowledge to play their part in upholding the new legislation and to contribute to new solutions for regulating the online puppy trade."

For more details visit wsava.org