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Why current breeding practices are a failure.

This is a discussion on Why current breeding practices are a failure. within the Laws/Legality and Ethics forums, part of the Herpetological Science & Politics category; Sorry but i don't really follow this forum (since most of the most experienced keepers have left it) and i ...

Laws/Legality and Ethics Discussion of the laws affecting herpetology around the world. Species legalities in different jurisdictions, import/export of animals, the legalities of species collection and the ethical considerations of all of the above.

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Old 9th August 2013   #21 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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Sorry but i don't really follow this forum (since most of the most experienced keepers have left it) and i don't check out most threads. In fact i came by this one accidentally.
Your statements have to do with the topic, simply because when you talk about degeneration of captive animals, an answer is a thing called by breeders "adding new/fresh blood". And the best way to add fresh blood is adding wild animals to a captive group.
Sure, adding "fresh" genes from wild populations into a captive one can be very valuable in maintaining genetic fitness. Itīs not strictly necessary, though, particularly in captive gene pools that are diverse, well managed, or very numerous.
Your previous statement about how iīm against WC animals, while broadly correct in a simplistic way, is misleading. First of all iīm obviously not against the animals themselves and iīm also not against all forms of collection. I am however very much against massive exploitation of wild populations, particularly if itīs for commercial purposes, and also generally against collection by individuals to satisfy their whims.
There are forms of collection i find acceptable, and in some rare cases necessary. The general description of what i would be fine with is a collection of a limited amount of individuals, preferably eggs or larvae/juveniles, from a population or populations that have previously been studied to assess their status and what impact the collection might have. Those animals then should be treated with extreme care because of their value, both as individual beings and as breeding stock. Once imported they could be made available to the public, although i would much favour them going to breeding efforts that are recognized in some official way, be it zoos or breeding centers, or authorized individuals, etc, who are far more likely to first of all be experienced and not motivated by greed or a whim, but also subject to some degree of control. I know such importations exist, although they are extremely rare and not usually associated with the hobby.

Does that answer your question?

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Well, in conclusion i can only say that there are always going to be "stronger", more hardy races even when weak mutants looking not much like their wild ancestors will be at the top of their popularity (as same is with dogs, cattle etc.), there are always breeders who keep "classic" ones, i see this with newts, guppies etc. I'm the one who prefers wildtype animals and don't try to keep my newts under sterile conditions that weaken them with time and there are others like me.
Iīm not denying that, but what good is that to those animals that are in the "weak" camp? Iīm not saying that every single individual of a captive population that is subjected to artificial selection as is generally practiced is going to necessarily suffer as a consequence (although that is technically possible), what iīm saying is that there are individuals that do suffer or whose quality of life is diminished as a direct consequence of these practices. Thatīs the problem, and thatīs why i denounce these practices as a failure.

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Ah, and slightly aside of the topic, some people should understand that promoting keeping axolotls in absolute sterility, adding salts, overfiltering the water and saying that putting in their thanks anything that wasn't previously baked, boiled and washed with 10 types of desinfection means will do nothing but boost the process of degeneration, IMHO.
Iīm not disagreeing with this, but i do acknowledge that there is a conflict of interests when we are dealing with "pets" or any captive animal that is the responsibility of an individual. There has to be a line between keeping animals in unnaturally sterile environments and exposing captive animals to danger.
I think itīs a good idea to try and mimic natural conditions in captivity to some extent, but i see the counterpart of not exposing our animals to predators, known pathogens, or unsuitable conditions, all of which would be beneficial in the long run for a population, but can be terrible for the individual. The trade between one extreme and the other is a difficult one.
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Old 9th August 2013   #22 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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Originally Posted by Redear View Post
I am pretty new to Caudata.org. I love the conversation and I love the debate about genetics. But it seems like alot is being assumed about how people are caring for and breeding their amphibians.
I encourage you to check various forums and specially breederīs websites of a variety of common species. I guarantee you will see plenty of, if not almost exclusively the kind of "assumptions" you see here.
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Old 9th August 2013   #23 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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Iīm not denying that, but what good is that to those animals that are in the "weak" camp? Iīm not saying that every single individual of a captive population that is subjected to artificial selection is going to necessarily suffer as a consequence (although that is technically possible), what iīm saying is that there are individuals that do suffer or whose quality of life is diminished as a direct consequence of these practices. Thatīs the problem, and thatīs why i denounce these practices as a failure.
What can i say? Complaining about those single genetically-weak animals is like vegans complaining about cattle suffering from meat production. Little piggies look cute but i still love grilled chuck steak, if you know what i mean. And i remember you're not vegan.
Anyway, we can discuss about genetic influence of "bad breeding practices" on the caudates as a group of organisms, when we magnify to single animals we can also complain about bad maintenance in uneducated people as well as too hot weather in summer which might be deadly for some of the caudates we keep.

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There has to be a line between keeping animals in unnaturally sterile environments and exposing captive animals to danger.[...] The trade between one extreme and the other is a difficult one.
No it is not, at least for me. There is a pretty big space of various conditions between sterile tanks that resemble a hospital more than a pond and tanks where newts live together with large crayfish, catfish and perches, with some Natrix swimming among them.
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Old 9th August 2013   #24 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Azhael,
I am not knowledgable about genetics/biology and the breeding practices you are referring to in your second and third points regarding breeding animals for specific phenotypes. But from what I do know and what I have read from you and other users so far, I largely agree with them.

The question I have is regarding your first point. First let me ask whether what I have gathered about your opinion is correct. You are not necessarily against captive populations being allowed to accumulate already present alleles and new mutations that would otherwise be eliminated if exposed to natural selection present in the wild. You are only concerned when those genes cause the animal suffering and lower its quality of life. So you would not have a problem with a weak but happy animal (not a problem with the animal itself, you know what I mean). For example if an animal is rather slow and clumsy genetically, and as a result not especially good at hunting prey and escaping predation; in the wild this animal would likely die quickly. But in captivity, if taken cared of properly, it would not have a lowered quality of life.

If I'm correct that this is in fact your opinion, then I completely agree and would like to ask for examples of possible phenotypes or genes that would cause the animal suffering. Again my knowledge is limited and I want to get a clearing idea of the subject.
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Old 9th August 2013   #25 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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]What can i say? Complaining about those single genetically-weak animals is like vegans complaining about cattle suffering from meat production. Little piggies look cute but i still love grilled chuck steak, if you know what i mean. And i remember you're not vegan.
Anyway, we can discuss about genetic influence of "bad breeding practices" on the caudates as a group of organisms, when we magnify to single animals we can also complain about bad maintenance in uneducated people as well as too hot weather in summer which might be deadly for some of the caudates we keep.
So what you are saying is that if there is suffering that could be prevented, we shouldnīt care? To use your analogy, what you are implying is like saying that since we kill animals for meat, we shouldnīt care about the methodology used to sacrifice them.
Random deleterious mutations and "weak" phenotypes are always going to happen, but purposefully spreading them is what is unnecessary and preventable and is what iīm objecting to. These practices ensure that they arenīt single, individual cases, but increasing numbers of them.
Iīm obviously all in favour of complaining when people mistreat their animals through bad conditions, neglect or whatever. Clearly that matters. What iīm saying is that breeding practices matter too.


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No it is not, at least for me. There is a pretty big space of various conditions between sterile tanks that resemble a hospital more than a pond and tanks where newts live together with large crayfish, catfish and perches, with some Natrix swimming among them.
And where do you put the line, Janusz?

In your quote, you eliminated the middle part to which the sentence "The trade between one extreme and the other is a difficult one. " was actually addressed.
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Last edited by Azhael; 9th August 2013 at 23:55. Reason: Corrected a missunderstanding.
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Old 9th August 2013   #26 (permalink)
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You are not necessarily against captive populations being allowed to accumulate already present alleles and new mutations that would otherwise be eliminated if exposed to natural selection present in the wild. You are only concerned when those genes cause the animal suffering and lower its quality of life. So you would not have a problem with a weak but happy animal (not a problem with the animal itself, you know what I mean). For example if an animal is rather slow and clumsy genetically, and as a result not especially good at hunting prey and escaping predation; in the wild this animal would likely die quickly. But in captivity, if taken cared of properly, it would not have a lowered quality of life.
You are almost correct. Iīm not against the propagation of neutral genes although i would prefer that in doing so, the gene pool wasnīt being compromised. Wether they would be selected against in the wild is not an absolute factor because a gene could be selected against without it having an impact on the animalīs quality of life (iīm thinking about some melanistic mutations, for example, which can be selected against in certain contexts but do not impact the animalīs welfare directly and can in fact be advantageous in other contexts. I have nothing against breeding those). As you say immediately after my main concern are the genes that directly cause problems, although iīm also concerned about other aspects of captive populations management.
I wouldnīt have a problem with an individual animal that is capable of living a comfortable life in captivity despite a disadvantage of some kind, of course not. I would be in opposition to breeding with that animal if the problem has a genetic basis, though. I have to say i think culling and euthanasia are acceptable when appropriate (and when appropriately performed) , but if the animal is not suffering i wouldnīt advocate it at all.

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would like to ask for examples of possible phenotypes or genes that would cause the animal suffering.
No problem. The spider morph in ball pythons (frequently associated with whatīs called "the wobbles"), the jaguar carpet python mutation (with identical effects), the enigma mutation in leopard geckos, brachycephaly and spina bifida associated to curly tails in dogs (just two of many, many examples), caramel albino ball pythons and the associated spinal kinks, gibber canaries, pot bellied goldfish, bug-eyed leucistic ratsnakes, tailless and hairless rats...to name a few, but itīs a much, muuuuuuch longer list.
Granted, some of those are much milder than others, but all cause trouble, i just wanted to provide a diverse set of examples.
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Old 9th August 2013   #27 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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And where do you put the line, Yanusz?
Where i see a stable environment for my newts without other organisms capable of doing them any hurt inhabiting their tank, Hodrigo.

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Random deleterious mutations and "weak" phenotypes are always going to happen, but purposefully spreading them is what is unnecessary and preventable and is what iīm objecting to.
It's not really purposefully spreading, it's spreading ones that are valuable and they live up to give the breeder his money. One can even say that it's a kinda similar to natural selection - ones better suited for breeder's expectations are the ones first to breed and to get best conditions.

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So what you are saying is that if there is suffering that could be prevented, we shouldnīt care? To use your analogy, what you are implying is like saying that since we kill animals for meat, we shouldnīt care about the methodology used to sacrifice them.
Same way, "using your analogy", we should prevent people with risk of having a down syndrome, or any genetic diseased baby, from procreation.
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Old 10th August 2013   #28 (permalink)
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Where i see a stable environment for my newts without other organisms capable of doing them any hurt inhabiting their tank, Hodrigo.
Sorry, it was an unintentional mistake, iīll correct it inmediately.

As for your response, it is very vague. What criteria are you using that define that line to you?


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It's not really purposefully spreading, it's spreading ones that are valuable and they live up to give the breeder his money. One can even say that it's a kinda similar to natural selection - ones better suited for breeder's expectations are the ones first to breed and to get best conditions.
Yes, it is purposeful. When breeders mate specific pairings to produce a desired outcome on the offspring and they select those, frequently to the extent of culling the ones that donīt carry the desired traits, i would say it is very purposeful indeed.
And yes, one can even say that, and itīs similar because both natural and artificial selection are selective, but since these animals are the responsibility of individuals, when the traits they select for cause harm to the animals, they are accountable for it.
You mentioned earlier how we complain when people neglect their animals by providing unsuitable conditions. If people are accountable for providing good care for their animals, why should breeding responsibly be excluded from those responsibilities when both affect welfare?

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Same way, "using your analogy", we should prevent people with risk of having a down syndrome, or any genetic diseased baby, from procreation.
No, because here you are dealing with free individuals who have the right and the ability to make their own choices. What we can do is to provide genetic and medical counseling for those individuals who might want to take steps to prevent these disorders.
To flip "your analogy" would you consider it ethical to actively seek such disorders in humans, specially ones that can be prevented? Would you be ok with someone consciously selecting for an embryo that is homozygotic for Huntingtonīs disease?
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Old 10th August 2013   #29 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

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I would be in opposition to breeding with that animal if the problem has a genetic basis, though. I have to say i think culling and euthanasia are acceptable when appropriate (and when appropriately performed) , but if the animal is not suffering i wouldnīt advocate it at all.
That sounds very reasonable. But at the same time, would it have negative effect on an animal if it is not allowed to breed? Would that actually cause it suffering? I do not know the answer and am not aware if there is any information on it. I have only seen my C. cyanurus male desperately trying to mate with inanimate objects and being in a state of unrest every year around breeding season until I provided him with a female just recently. This may really be nothing, I do not know. But if it does in fact cause the animal some level of suffering, however slight, then I feel it becomes a bit more complicated. Do we put this one animal's well being first, or the gene pool? I am talking about genes that do not themselves cause the animal suffering to be clear.
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Default AW: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

I can follow Rodrigo in several points, especially regarding the problems of limited genpool and the fact that captivity can create animals with genetic traits which wouldnt be successful in nature/ breed in large numbers.

I handle this point more or less easy, I dont start extra tanks for too small individuums and I never would start any kind of medicial treatment if only a small percentage of a juvenile group has problems with microorganisms / fungus. The healthier ones survive and thats it. Most newt/salamander species reproduce in so large numbers so for me it isnt necessary to achieve the maximum possible number of juveniles. Of course its something else if sb breeds species which are rare / have unknown population sizes in the wild (eg Neurergeus)
I know people which try to raise every single juvenile but those people are a minority.

The selective breeding of animals with mutations, or to say it more concrete color mutations isnt really problematic when it comes to newts and salamanders. With some snakes/geckos its a problem in my eyes because money seems to be way more important than healthy animals. I know many persons which regard their newest animal as an "investment" but for those persons there is just not enough money in our hobby.
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Old 11th August 2013   #31 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Stanley, if you put a male in breeding condition with 100 females, it will still be frustrated and desperately chase every single one of them.
I wouldnīt call this suffering, as i said, at best iīd classify it as frustration and i have no reason to accept that it produces significant distress or that it negatively affects the individual.
Itīs an interesting idea, though, and it ties in with something that was mentioned earlier about how the trade between whatīs good for the individual and whatīs good for the gene pool can often be at odds.


Cristatus1, itīs not so much that captivity allows for genes that wouldnīt survive in the wild, that may or may not be problematic, itīs the perpetuation of genes that directly affect welfare that is my primary concern.

Quote:
The selective breeding of animals with mutations, or to say it more concrete color mutations isnt really problematic when it comes to newts and salamanders. With some snakes/geckos its a problem in my eyes because money seems to be way more important than healthy animals. I know many persons which regard their newest animal as an "investment" but for those persons there is just not enough money in our hobby.
It is very minoritary in caudates, yes, but the trend will continue and eventually we can expect similar results as with other animal groups. Iīm interested in preventing that from happening.
I have seen what you describe about perceiving new animals as investments in our section of the hobby, too. You can read posts about people acquiring leucistic P.waltl, or managing to get their hands on copper axolotls with the explicit intention of breeding them for profit. Of course it doesnīt happen with the same frequency that it does with snakes, geckos or bearded dragons, but then again caudates are FAR less significant in the hobby and making money with them is less likely....but itīs there.
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Old 11th August 2013   #32 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Other than the obvious inbreeding depression (which we know is less apparent in caudates) that occurs when selecting a narrow line of colour mutants, is there any firm scientific evidence that backs up the theory that a leucistic P.waltl or T.carnifex is weaker than a normal coloured individual?

In rare cases leucism in nature is actually selected for.
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Old 11th August 2013   #33 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

For P.waltl, none that i have ever heard of, but it needs to be mentioned that there also isnīt any to support the contrary. I donīt think there is anybody, anywhere, specifically researching it, therefore i donīt expect any scientifically collected data about the subject.
In the case of T.carnifex, apparently yes. I will try to look for sources but what i remember hearing about is that the homozigous individuals have a higher mortality rate and become sterile at a comparatively early age or something along those lines. If i remember correctly this was due to an inability/impairment to produce vitamin Aŋ?
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Non Timetis Messor.
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Old 12th August 2013   #34 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

I had no luck finding any papers, only this old article which is the one i remember from a long time ago:
Kweekverslag Triturus Carnifex

If anyone knows of any other sources, please share them here.
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Old 29th November 2013   #35 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

I love genetics, so this thread is rather interesting for me to read. I must say as someone who works in a scientific field, I wish there was studies and data to support the theories presented here. The article link provided in the last post dose not qualify. I am sorry but you need data. Which brings up the question, where do people in the hobby go for proper scientific articles? Please let me know.

Now in terms of what is being said, I agree with a lot of the THEORIES brought up, but without scientific proof, I don't get why people are talking like their ideas are fact.

Another thing I want to bring up is the statement that devolution is nonsense. Now I guess it depends on how you look at it, but there is a such thing as devolution. Two examples are tails in primates, and eyes in blind cave fish (or other animals which live in caves). Now I know the argument will be that these species have moved toward complexity, but its worth bringing up for those who dismissed the idea of devolution.
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Old 30th November 2013   #36 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Yeah, iīm fully aware that the article linked above does not qualify, i think i made it quite clear. In case i didnīt, itīs obviously not a scientific paper and should NOT be taken as one.

What on earth are you talking about O_o? What theories?
Iīm going to have to say that i suspect your scientific background is not in biology...also, noone in science would ever use the word "theory" so incorrectly. Thatīs the coloquial sense which equates to a guess, basically, an idea, not even a hypothesis. The scientific meaning of the word is oh so much more....itīs the pinacle of scientific understanding, an explanatory framework that makes sense of the available data, that makes testable predictions, etc. Theories explain facts.

Genetic drift and genetic linkage are not unsupported guesses that i just made up...if you think those are not thoroughly stablished phenomena and you think they need to be "proved", i donīt know what to tell you...
Thereīs no "proof" in biology....proof is for mathematics... If you donīt think the phenomena mentioned above are extremely well stablished facts then i can only conclude that if you work in a scientific field, itīs certainly not in biology.

Devolution IS nonsense and thatīs why the concept doesnīt exist in biology. First off i think you meant to say tails in apes, not primates, because most primates have fully functional, very well developed tails. In the case of apes, which have secondarily reduced their tails into oblivion, itīs most definitely not devolution. The tail has not reverted to a previous evolutionary state, because there is no previous evolutionary state in chordates for this lineage that is tailess. Furthermore, the tail is still there, itīs just hugely reduced.
Blind cave fish are also not reverting to a previous evolutionary state where there were no eyes. They are simply abandoning an organ which has no function in their new environment and is very costly. They are adapting and suffering genetic changes in their populations that end up producing no eyes or the facultative expression of eyes (which is very common). This is evolution. You could perhaps have mentioned atavisms as an example of "devolution" (neither tails in apes nor eyeslessness in cave fish are atavisms, though), but even so the term would still be useless because even if they were to become fixed in a population that would be indistinguisable from evolution. Itīs pointless to consider directionality. Pretending that just because a species looses a single feature we have observed "devolution" is extremely absurd.
I realise itīs going to sound very rude but the ideas you have expressed about scientific theories, facts, proof, evolution, etc, are very naive and not at all scientific. Every stereotype you have produced, theories as in unsupported guesses, directionality of evolution and even the idea of moving towards complexity speak of someone who is not at all familiar with biology.
Please understand iīm not simply trying to be mean, even though for you to come in demanding "proofs" and accusing me of making up "guesses" as if they were facts while demonstrating that you donīt even know the meaning of the words you are using, is very rude indeed.
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Non Timetis Messor.

Last edited by Azhael; 30th November 2013 at 13:39. Reason: made a couple of corrections.
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Old 30th November 2013   #37 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Rodrigo, It seems to me that Redear was referring to the theories about husbandry, breeding practices, claims of health issues with caudate color morphs etc that have been raised in this thread (all without papers/data to back them up). I do not think he was referring to any of the widely accepted scientific theories and terms that are being used to frame this debate.

Being condescending to other users on this board because you did not carefully read their comments does you no favors and does nothing improve the quality of this online community.
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Old 30th November 2013   #38 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Ok, but i suposse baselessly accusing people of making claims without evidence to support them is the very personification of online community improvement.

If by "theories" he meant the comments about health issues associated to certain mutations, or the fact that people select for mutations, those arenīt "theories", those are observations. The data most definitely exists (are you kidding me?) and is independently confirmable by anyone who wants to do so. There was a single claim of what appears to be such an ocurrence in caudates, the one about flavistic carnifex and the observations of this are described in the article i linked to earlier. Not a scientific paper, of course, not that you would be likely to find any for such a thing. Note that i only pointed out that apparently, data appears to exist. I searched for further confirmation and found nothing, so i didnīt push it further.
As i said earlier, to expect detailed, specific scientific literature on this observations is not at all realistic. These things are happening in our hobby and most people in it donīt care, let alone people outside the hobby. The chances that anyone would be wasting grant money on studying the underlaying reasons for the observations of issues on flavistic carnifex are vanishingly small. That doesnīt make the observation of something going on with these animals, false. Itīs like pointing at a bulldog and saying "scientific article or it didnīt happen".

Itīs not my fault if Redear grossly missuses the word "theory" and by making his accusation plural, clearly implies that i have made a number of unsupported claims. I take offense to that because i believe i have done no such thing and i resent the accusation. But i guess, words are only rude when i say them.

Also, i may have been condescendent but the mistakes on his post are genuine and have nothing to do with me not reading carefully. I was condescendent because iīm not on my best behaviour after being accused of things, not because iīm a lousy reader.
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Non Timetis Messor.

Last edited by Azhael; 30th November 2013 at 17:27.
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Old 30th November 2013   #39 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

Perry is right. I was referring to breeding practices not genetic theories. Also, I am sorry I was not more technical in my response (certain primates not all primates, etc). I was not trying to out do anyone, or offend anyone. Rodrigo I don't think you are lousy. I respect your passion and concern for caudates. But I like scientific studies. Especially if we are drawing conclusions.

I am not demanding anything from you. I just want see some studies about this issue. I know plenty of research has been done with caudates. I am just searching for it. As far as your attacks on me... I would never draw conclusions about anyone's background or knowledge based on a post on caudata.org.
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Old 30th November 2013   #40 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why current breeding practices are a failure.

This thread is very interesting, unfortunately I don't understand it all XD. But from what I have read I agree with Azhael in some thing and others in other things, but like I said, I don't really understand all of it.
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