A studbook is the pedigree and demographic history of a specific group of animals. The studbook may cover a single species with no subspecies, a single species and its various subspecies but without animals of hybrid or unknown origin, a single species and its various subspecies and hybrids, or a genus and as many full species as appropriate.
A studbook is a true record of a species history in captivity. It should include information on all animals that have ever lived in captivity, no matter how long they remain there. It must also include the ancestors of all animals in the studbook. Each animal is assigned a unique numerical identifier or studbook number that allows construction of a pedigree for genetic analyses and of age specific births and deaths for demographic analyses.
From the point when an animal enters captivity, the studbook tracks that animal for its entire life, recording all locations where it lives and the time spent at each location. The studbook ultimately records each animal's date of death or transfer from the managed population. In this way, studbooks assist animal managers to improve management of subsequent generations through well-conceived breedings, Population Management Plans (PMPs) and Species Survival Plans (SSPs).
The information provided by the studbook keeper may then be used to manage the captive population. The most intensive management levels are the ex situ conservation efforts such as the SSP© or PMP. Where an SSP© exists for a species, the studbook keeper is responsible for updating the species coordinator on changes in the database (e.g., births, deaths, transfers, etc.) so that management decisions can be made based on the most current information.
Regional studbooks maintained at the Minnesota Zoo