Matching Items (27)

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Psychological, Ecological, and Ethical Dimensions of Bottlenose Dolphin Captivity

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Bottlenose dolphins, or Tursiops truncates, have captured the attention of humans for centuries leading people to keep them in captivity. However, people's love and an increase in knowledge for these creatures have sparked many ethical debates on whether dolphins should

Bottlenose dolphins, or Tursiops truncates, have captured the attention of humans for centuries leading people to keep them in captivity. However, people's love and an increase in knowledge for these creatures have sparked many ethical debates on whether dolphins should be kept in captivity. In this paper, I discuss the different dimensions of bottlenose dolphin captivity focusing on the physiological, psychological, ecological and ethical concerns raised when comparing captive to wild bottlenose dolphins. In an analysis of the scientific literature, I found that captive bottlenose dolphins experience negative physical and psychological effects, including a shorter life span and a decrease in brain size. They also engage in more risky and harmful behaviors. Preexisting brain structures in bottlenose dolphins indicate enhanced emotional processing possibly leading to a more difficult life in captivity. Furthermore, modeling of bottlenose dolphin social networks have found that removal of dolphins from existing populations have negative repercussions for ecological communities, particularly effecting present and future pods due to their complex social systems called fission fusion societies. Furthermore, removal can have a deleterious effect on the environment due to their role as top predators. Available data suggest that bottlenose dolphins should be classified as non-human persons due to their cognitive abilities such as self-awareness, intentionality, creativity, and symbolic communication. This moral classification demands significant human duties and responsibilities to protect these cetaceans. Due to their similarities to humans, these results suggest that keeping bottlenose dolphins in captivity is ethically questionable and perhaps unjustifiable as captivity violates their basic rights.

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2017-05

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Weak Polygyny in California Sea Lions and the Potential for Alternative Mating Tactics

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Female aggregation and male territoriality are considered to be hallmarks of polygynous mating systems. The development of genetic parentage assignment has called into question the accuracy of behavioral traits in predicting true mating systems. In this study we use 14

Female aggregation and male territoriality are considered to be hallmarks of polygynous mating systems. The development of genetic parentage assignment has called into question the accuracy of behavioral traits in predicting true mating systems. In this study we use 14 microsatellite markers to explore the mating system of one of the most behaviorally polygynous species, the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). We sampled a total of 158 female-pup pairs and 99 territorial males across two breeding rookeries (San Jorge and Los Islotes) in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Fathers could be identified for 30% of pups sampled at San Jorge across three breeding seasons and 15% of sampled pups at Los Islotes across two breeding seasons. Analysis of paternal relatedness between the pups for which no fathers were identified (sampled over four breeding seasons at San Jorge and two at Los Islotes) revealed that few pups were likely to share a father. Thirty-one percent of the sampled males on San Jorge and 15% of the sampled males on Los Islotes were assigned at least one paternity. With one exception, no male was identified as the father of more than two pups. Furthermore, at Los Islotes rookery there were significantly fewer pups assigned paternity than expected given the pool of sampled males (p<0.0001). Overall, we found considerably lower variation in male reproductive success than expected in a species that exhibits behavior associated with strongly polygynous mating. Low variation in male reproductive success may result from heightened mobility among receptive females in the Gulf of California, which reduces the ability of males to monopolize groups of females. Our results raise important questions regarding the adaptive role of territoriality and the potential for alternative mating tactics in this species.

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2012-03-14

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Human Disturbance Influences Reproductive Success and Growth Rate in California Sea Lions (Zalophus Californianus)

Description

The environment is currently undergoing changes at both global (e.g., climate change) and local (e.g., tourism, pollution, habitat modification) scales that have the capacity to affect the viability of animal and plant populations. Many of these changes, such as human

The environment is currently undergoing changes at both global (e.g., climate change) and local (e.g., tourism, pollution, habitat modification) scales that have the capacity to affect the viability of animal and plant populations. Many of these changes, such as human disturbance, have an anthropogenic origin and therefore may be mitigated by management action. To do so requires an understanding of the impact of human activities and changing environmental conditions on population dynamics. We investigated the influence of human activity on important life history parameters (reproductive rate, and body condition, and growth rate of neonate pups) for California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Increased human presence was associated with lower reproductive rates, which translated into reduced long-term population growth rates and suggested that human activities are a disturbance that could lead to population declines. We also observed higher body growth rates in pups with increased exposure to humans. Increased growth rates in pups may reflect a density dependent response to declining reproductive rates (e.g., decreased competition for resources). Our results highlight the potentially complex changes in life history parameters that may result from human disturbance, and their implication for population dynamics. We recommend careful monitoring of human activities in the Gulf of California and emphasize the importance of management strategies that explicitly consider the potential impact of human activities such as ecotourism on vertebrate populations.

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2011-03-16

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Quantifying the Spatial Ecology of Wide-Ranging Marine Species in the Gulf of California: Implications for Marine Conservation Planning

Description

There is growing interest in systematic establishment of marine protected area (MPA) networks and representative conservation sites. This movement toward networks of no-take zones requires that reserves are deliberately and adequately spaced for connectivity. Here, we test the network functionality

There is growing interest in systematic establishment of marine protected area (MPA) networks and representative conservation sites. This movement toward networks of no-take zones requires that reserves are deliberately and adequately spaced for connectivity. Here, we test the network functionality of an ecoregional assessment configuration of marine conservation areas by evaluating the habitat protection and connectivity offered to wide-ranging fauna in the Gulf of California (GOC, Mexico). We first use expert opinion to identify representative species of wide-ranging fauna of the GOC. These include leopard grouper, hammerhead sharks, California brown pelicans and green sea turtles. Analyzing habitat models with both structural and functional connectivity indexes, our results indicate that the configuration includes large proportions of biologically important habitat for the four species considered (25–40%), particularly, the best quality habitats (46–57%). Our results also show that connectivity levels offered by the conservation area design for these four species may be similar to connectivity levels offered by the entire Gulf of California, thus indicating that connectivity offered by the areas may resemble natural connectivity. The selected focal species comprise different life histories among marine or marine-related vertebrates and are associated with those habitats holding the most biodiversity values (i.e. coastal habitats); our results thus suggest that the proposed configuration may function as a network for connectivity and may adequately represent the marine megafauna in the GOC, including the potential connectivity among habitat patches. This work highlights the range of approaches that can be used to quantify habitat protection and connectivity for wide-ranging marine species in marine reserve networks.

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Date Created
2011-12-06

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The Potential Impact of Labor Choices on the Efficacy of Marine Conservation Strategies

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Conservation of marine resources is critical to the wellbeing of human communities. Coastal artisanal fishing communities are particularly reliant on marine resources for food and for their livelihoods. Management actions aimed at marine conservation may lead to unanticipated changes in

Conservation of marine resources is critical to the wellbeing of human communities. Coastal artisanal fishing communities are particularly reliant on marine resources for food and for their livelihoods. Management actions aimed at marine conservation may lead to unanticipated changes in human behavior that influence the ability of conservation programs to achieve their goals. We examine how marine conservation strategies may impact labor decisions that influence both the ecosystem and human livelihoods using simulation modeling. We consider two conservation strategies in the model: direct action through fisheries regulation enforcement, and indirect action through land conservation. Our results indicate that both strategies can increase the abundance of fish, and thus contribute to the maintenance of marine resources. However, our results also show that marine fisheries enforcement may negatively impact the livelihoods of human communities. Land conservation, on the other hand, potentially enhances the livelihood of the human populations. Thus, depending on management objectives, indirect or a combination of direct and indirect conservation strategies may be effective at achieving conservation and sustainability goals. These results highlight the importance of accounting for changes in human behavior resulting from management actions in conservation and management.

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Date Created
2011-08-24

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An evaluation of the ecological and human health factors in protein source decisions

Description

Protein is an essential macronutrient in the human diet, but the source of this protein has both human health and environmental impacts. Health complications can result from protein deficiency, but the practices by which protein sources are raised, grown, or

Protein is an essential macronutrient in the human diet, but the source of this protein has both human health and environmental impacts. Health complications can result from protein deficiency, but the practices by which protein sources are raised, grown, or harvested have environmental consequences, potentially reducing biodiversity, essential habitat, and crucial stocks of natural resources. Terrestrial cultivation encroaches on natural habitats and consumes resources inefficiently, while overfishing has greatly depleted wild fishery stocks. These environmental factors, along with concerns about nutrients, contaminants and the ethics of animal protein has led to confusion about weighing the risks and benefits associated with alternative sources of protein. Providing consumers \u2014 and policy makers \u2014 with a comprehensive account of major protein sources and their impacts in an understandable form is crucial to reducing environmental degradation and improving human health. Here I provide a general framework to compare the health and environmental impacts of livestock, seafood, and plant protein, and illustrate the application of this framework with case studies for each of these categories.

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2014-05

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Sharks and Society: Changing the Reputation of a Keystone Predator

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Globally, many species of shark are facing rapid population decline. This is due to increasing fishing pressures, primarily from the booming demand in China for shark fins for soup. In recent years there has also been an increase in international

Globally, many species of shark are facing rapid population decline. This is due to increasing fishing pressures, primarily from the booming demand in China for shark fins for soup. In recent years there has also been an increase in international shark conservation efforts, but there is still a long way to go in gathering support for those efforts. Public perception of sharks in America has been greatly influenced by negative media representations of them, Jaws being one of the most influential. Many of these representations are based on inaccurate information that has been disproven by science, but still lingers in popular culture. Symbolic Interactionism Theory proved to be a useful framework for unpacking the connections between public perception, mainstream culture and media, and conservation regarding sharks. A social psychological theory, Symbolic Interactionism describes the ways that people construct meaning about a topic through direct and indirect interactions, and how this meaning can change on individual, social, and cultural levels. By changing the way sharks are perceived and represented to the public, these important and incredible animals may gather the support they need to continue living in the world's oceans.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Flame retardant contamination in seafood and its significance for conservation

Description

Consumption of seafood poses a substantial threat to global biodiversity. Chemical contamination found in both wild-caught and farmed seafood also presents significant health risks to consumers. Flame retardants, used in upholstery, plastics, clothing, and other products to reduce fire danger,

Consumption of seafood poses a substantial threat to global biodiversity. Chemical contamination found in both wild-caught and farmed seafood also presents significant health risks to consumers. Flame retardants, used in upholstery, plastics, clothing, and other products to reduce fire danger, are of particular concern as they are commonly found in the marine environment and permeate the tissues of fish that are sold for consumption via multiple pathways. By summarizing various metrics of sustainability and the mercury content in consumed species of fish and shellfish, researchers have found that high levels of chemical contamination was linked with lesser fishery sustainability. I conducted a literature review of flame retardant content in seafood to further compare contamination and sustainability in addition to the initial analysis with mercury. My review suggests that the widespread issue of fishery collapse could be alleviated by demonstrating to stakeholders that many unsustainable fish stocks are mutually disadvantageous for both human consumers and the environment. Future research should address the need for the collection of data that better represent actual global contaminant concentrations in seafood.

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2014-05

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A HISTORY AND COMPARISON OF WOLF CONSERVATION IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES AND ITALY

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Abstract This thesis is derived from the conservation biology field of study and seeks to chronicle and characterize the history of wolf conservation in the US, with a focus on post-ESA listing and present day events. The compelling question this

Abstract This thesis is derived from the conservation biology field of study and seeks to chronicle and characterize the history of wolf conservation in the US, with a focus on post-ESA listing and present day events. The compelling question this thesis seeks to address is how to make long-term wolf conservation effective and feasible in the United States. An overview of wolf life history is provided, as well as a brief overview of early wolf-human interactions in Europe and the US, before reviewing the following regions in the US: Yellowstone, Idaho/Montana/Wyoming, Alaska, and Arizona. The trend identified in all regions is described as a hostile political atmosphere with particular resentment by some stakeholders towards the federal enforcement of wolf conservation via the ESA. A comparative section on Italy is provided in contrast to this US theme, as Italy tends to have a much more relaxed attitude towards wolf conservation. For success in the future of wolf conservation three suggestions are made. First, efforts to protect wolves through federal regulation are to be dismissed. Second, efforts should instead focus on education of key demographics regarding responsible environmental management and wolf management specifically. Thirdly, conservationists must actively strive to remarket the wolf as a symbol of the freedom of the west as opposed to the symbol of Washington's encroachment on state's rights.

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2014-12

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Assessing the impact of Endangered Species Act recovery planning guidelines on managing threats for listed species

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Since its inception in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been met with both praise and criticism. More than 40 years later, the Act is still polarizing, with proponents applauding its power to protect species and critics arguing against its

Since its inception in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has been met with both praise and criticism. More than 40 years later, the Act is still polarizing, with proponents applauding its power to protect species and critics arguing against its perceived ineffectiveness and potential mismanagement. Recovery plans, which were required by the 1988 amendments to the Act, play an important role in organizing efforts to protect and recover species under the Act. In 1999, in an effort to evaluate the process, the Society for Conservation Biology commissioned an independent review of endangered species recovery planning. From these findings, the SCB made key recommendations for how management agencies could improve the recovery planning process, after which the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service redrafted their recovery planning guidelines. One important recommendation called for recovery plans to make threats a primary focus, including organizing and prioritizing recovery tasks for threat abatement. Here, I seek to determine the extent to which SCB recommendations were incorporated into these new guidelines, and if, in turn, the recommendations regarding threats manifested in recovery plans written under the new guidelines. I found that the guidelines successfully incorporated most SCB recommendations, except those that addressed monitoring. As a result, recent recovery plans have improved in their treatment of threats, but still fail to adequately incorporate threat monitoring. This failure suggests that developing clear guidelines for monitoring should be an important priority in future ESA recovery planning.

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2014