Conservation Medicine

Apoio a projetos de medicina de conservação

Conservation Medicine is a multidisciplinary field that studies the pathogenic relationships between humans, animals and ecosystems by developing and implementing health management practices, policies and programmes. Its ultimate goal is to promote human and animal health by maintaining a suitable environmental balance.

Veterinarians, physicians, ecologists, biologists and conservation professionals work together to support and develop research and educational programmes focused on interspecies disease transmission and the influence of abiotic factors on species susceptibility to pathogens.

To find out more about this new field, please click on the following links
Tufts University
The University of Edinburgh

Recommended reading

Aguirre, A.A., Ostfeld, R.S., Tabor, G.M., House, C., Pearl, M.C. (2002). Conservation
Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN-10: 0195150937

Aguirre, A.A., Ostfeld, R.S., Daszak (2012). New Directions in Conservation Medicine: Applied Cases of Ecological Health. Oxford University Press. ISBN-10: 0199731470

Macdonald, M., Service, K. (2007). Key Topics in Conservation Biology. Blackwell Publications, Oxford. ISBN-10: 1405122498

Boasting an extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine, acquired over more than 17 years of caring for its animal collection and sharing ideas with other entities operating in this field, the Oceanário de Lisboa develops, coordinates and participates in several in situ, ex situ and sorta situ studies focused on conservation medicine.

Moreover, the Oceanário de Lisboa seeks to introduce conservation medicine issues into the conservation projects it sponsors, by providing training on pathogen screening techniques and medical procedures, as well as habitat use and species distribution studies.

Read more about the efforts undertaken by the Oceanário de Lisboa within the field of conservation medicine:

SADA Programme on the Príncipe Island

Projeto SADA - Ilha do Príncipe

A multidisciplinary team was formed within the scope of this project for the purpose of studying sea turtle populations in the area and investigating a disease occurring worldwide, fibropapillomatosis.

Despite the large number of parasites, symbionts and diseases affecting sea turtles, nothing causes as much concern as fibropapillomatosis, a disease that is posing an increasing threat to the survival of this species. Fibropapillomatosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease associated with a virus (Herpes virus) that causes the growth of tumours on the skin. These tumours are mostly found on soft tissue areas, particularly the fore flippers, eyes and neck.

The project team, which includes the Oceanário’s veterinary physician and scientists specialised in the fields of virology, anatomical pathology and bacteriology, has designed protocols for the description and documentation of lesions, as well as the collection and storage of samples to be subsequently analysed in Portugal. Part of the samples collected were used in a project developed by the University of Puerto Rico.

Scientific publications resulting from this project

First histological and virological report of Fibropapilloma associated with Herpesvirus in Chelonia mydas at Príncipe Island, West Africa 

Phylogeography and Evolution of the Chelonid Fibropapilloma-associated Herpesvirus 

Virulence traits of Pseudomonas spp. carried by free-living turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate) from the Príncipe Island, Gulf of Guinea (Poster)

Histological Characterization of Marine Turtle Fibropapillomatosis in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) of Príncipe Island in the Gulf of Guinea (Poster)

Preliminary Phylogenetic Analysis Fibropapilloma-associated Herpesvirus Sequences from Marine Turtles, Príncipe Island, Gulf of Guinea, West Africa (Poster)

Sunfish (Mola mola) behaviour, predator-prey interactions and interactions with fishing activities


Oceanário de Lisboa played a key role in this project by providing advice concerning the use of external telemetric devices to study this species.
Moreover, Oceanário de Lisboa stressed the importance of studying the bacterial flora of captured specimens, thus allowing for conservation medicine issues to be addressed. The first specimens have been captured and are currently undergoing analysis.

Environmental health project focused on Portuguese amphibian and reptile species

Anfíbios e Répteis

Oceanário de Lisboa participates in this project, which is coordinated by the Portuguese Herpetological Association, by designing sample collection, pathogen screening and contaminated waste treatment protocols.