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Difference between In situ and Ex situ conservation

What is In situ conservation ?

In situ conservation means protecting endangered animal species in its natural habitat. It is also called as on site conservation or conservation of genetics.

Examples of In situ conservations are Natural Park, Sanctuaries and Natural reserves. In situ ensures the sustainability of the environment and ecosystems.

Protection against predators and protection of habitat are the two major role of in situ conservation.

What is Ex situ conservation ?

Ex situ conservation means protecting an endangered species outside its natural habitat. It is also called as offsite conservation.

Examples of offsite conservations are Zoo, Botanical gardens and Seed banks . It results in the protection and maintenance of species and not its habitat . Captive breeding of endangered species is a last resort.

Conservation takes two forms – legislation and wildlife reserves which includes marine reservation zones also.

Under legislation laws are passed against hunting of animals, occupying natural habitats for other purposes and to stop illegal trade of endangered species.

Wild life reserves includes designated areas specially for conservation of habitats and species. Certain factors need to be considered while choosing wildlife reserves such as availability of wide range of area and the condition that suits the species.

Situ is derived from latin word meaning site. So in situ means same place and ex situ means outside the place.

In situ and ex situ  conservation are the two approaches to conserve biodiversity. The main difference in this two types of conservation is , In in-situ conservation population recovers in natural environment, whereas in ex situ offspring produced in captive breeding’s are released in natural habitat.

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Advantages of In situ conservation:

  • In situ conservation involves many advantages. This method involves promotion of natural system to take care of its own
  • It not only conserves the genetic diversity it also allows the evolution of genetic with climate.
  • It is a cheap and convenient way for conserving bio diversity as the species is allowed to grow in its natural environment.
  • Their performance characteristics can be properly recorded and evaluated.
  • To make the species survive we protect the entire natural habitat. i.e., to protect the carnivores there have to be adequate herbivores which serves as a food for predators and so the chain continues.

Advantages of Ex situ conservation:

  • The main advantages of ex situ conservation is the organisms are protected completely form predating and poaching
  • Health of the species can be monitored and medical assistance can be provided as required.
  • Genetic diversity can be measured .
  • Animals and plants can be bred to increase their numbers if endangers.
  • Modern reproductive technology can be used and researches can be done.

In addition to it there are several disadvantages observed in each type . They are as follows

Disadvantages of In situ:

  • It requires large landscape. Hence land used are dedicated for single purpose
  • It involves minimizing or excluding human activity and interference.
  • These species are at a risk of natural disasters
  • Since they are less productive it is more costly to maintain
  • It is difficult to control illegal exploitation and environment may need to be restored
  • Illegal harvesting of timber and plant products
  • Protected animals whose population is very high may start to impact on nearby farmers

Disadvantages of Ex situ:

  • Animals can be exposed to wide range of different diseases
  • They are made to live outside their natural habitat hence environmental condition may be difficult to survive.
  • They are very expensive to maintain and nutritional issues may occur


Conservation means management of man’s use of biosphere to attain maximum benefit by present generation and maintaining its potential to meet the requirement of future generation.

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