The Wilder Institute has been leading Canada’s only conservation breeding program for this species. This vital work is sponsored by ConocoPhillips Canada. Working with our partners, we study whooping cranes in and near Wood Buffalo National Park. Researchers are using satellite imagery to detect nesting whooping cranes and remote cameras to study causes of reproductive failure.
Low egg hatch rate is another challenge to whooping cranes. To identify and understand the reasons for hatch failure in whooping crane populations, our researchers need to discriminate between male infertility and early embryo death. The knowledge gained of this underlying biology will help increase the efficacy of captive breeding programs and identify important research gaps.
In addition, together with our partners, the Wilder Institute is studying incubation at wild whooping crane nests in Louisiana. Researchers are using data-logger eggs to measure humidity, temperature, and egg turning, along with nest observation data to understand why some eggs hatch and others do not. This research will be used to improve artificial incubation practices.
Since 1992, the Wilder Institute has been part of conservation breeding for whooping cranes. Whooping cranes born at the Wildlife Conservation Center at the Calgary Zoo become part of the captive conservation breeding program or are released in the Eastern migratory or Louisiana non-migratory populations. The eggs at the breeding facility are raised by a combination of methods; artificial incubation and parent-rearing (by true or conspecific foster parents).
Our conservation impact
The Wilder Institute aims to strengthen our understanding of the challenges the whooping cranes are faced with. By improving translocation success through research of alternate methods and improving captive and wild reproductive success, we aim to establish self-sustaining populations of whooping cranes in the wild that are genetically stable and resilient to environmental events.