Aquatic herbivores are more important to marine environments than most people think. The Dugong is a rare marine mammal that feeds on sea grasses off coastal waters. It is also a species that is on the verge of becoming an endangered species because of its habitat loss. The feeding grounds of sea grasses are the most affected portions of Dugong habitat. This research proposal looks to examine the feeding grounds and migratory patterns of the Dugong to find the best areas of habitat to protect. Since the Dugong moves around constantly, it follows where its food grows. By studying the relationship between where it travels and where much of its food grows, a good habitat conservation plan can be created to protect those areas.
Archive for the '04-25-0830' Category
Species-centric conservation plans can have disastrous effects on the ecosystem surrounding their target species. With all of the endangered species listed today the countless other candidate species for listing, conservation conflicts are inevitable. Therefore, we must develop ecosystem-centric conservation plans.
This effect is especially apparent in island ecosystems due to their unique, delicate nature. For example, when the San Clemente loggerhead shrike was listed as endangered in the California Channel Islands, its conservation plan called for the removal of the bird’s predators. As predators, island foxes were removed by euthanasia and experienced a 40-60% drop in their total population and are currently critically endangered.
The Channel Islands’ ecosystems have been subject to further degradation by the introduction of non-native golden eagles and feral pigs. The eagles prey on island foxes, further decreasing their already strained populations. Feral pigs supplement the eagles as a prey animal and have made it possible for them to colonize the islands.
If the Channel Islands lose their top natural predator, their ecosystems will never be able to return to their natural states. Therefore, an ecosystem-centric recovery plan must be applied to the Islands to provide for the removal of non-native species and the recovery of the island fox.
Hunting and poaching are serious threats that have caused the extinction and endangerment of many species. The snow leopard is one such species that has been seriously threatened and even pushed to the brink of extinction. The snow leopard inhabits rugged, mountainous terrain in central Asia (World Wildlife Fund 2010). It is both hunted by professional hunters from all around the world for its fur and bones and also threatened by local people near snow leopard habitats who strongly dislike the large cat due to the competition they pose for food resources (Theile 2003). Currently, the snow leopard is not well protected and one of the main reasons is the lack of an accurate population number and locations of abundance. I propose to fill this hole in the current research with a combination of infrared cameras and the Snow Leopard Information Management System (SLIMS). I propose to first eliminate the errors that SLIMS is prone to and use it to determine snow leopard abundance in various areas. Infrared cameras will then be set up in areas varying in abundance to monitor the species. Data extrapolation will then be conducted to magnify the data and produce an accurate population number. The data gathered from this study can allow more effective protection of snow leopards from hunting by both locals and outside hunters as well as allow locals to more effectively avoid areas of snow leopard abundance. With further improvement, this research strategy can later be modified and help determine population numbers and locations of various other species with similar researching difficulties as the snow leopard.
Genetic testing, the most modern and accurate method of identification has great but underutilized potential in the conservation of biodiversity. Just last month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) declared the Eastern cougar extinct based on a five-year study. While this study and judgment of claimed sightings seems like satisfactory evidence, Dr. Melanie Culver’s DNA test offered an entirely new perspective. After discovering the strikingly similar genetics of cougars throughout North America, she made the radical conclusion that Eastern cougars never existed as a distinct subspecies, but are instead part of a larger North American cougar species. As a result, we can use our knowledge of the causes of Eastern cougar extinction to guide us in the conservation of other cougars. DNA analysis exposes the fallacies of the previously employed phylogenic methods and the need to reclassify species via genetic relationship. This information can aid in extinction prevention so that we can limit the number species to which we must say ‘good-bye.’
Madagascar’s endangered species have long suffered from habitat destruction. One such endangered species is the aye aye, a unique lemur with countless evolutionary adaptations. The issues facing the aye aye are not limited to just habitat destruction, however. Native superstition of the animal has led to its intentional persecution. I propose research intended to determine the impact of these killings on overall aye aye populations.
Research would be characterized by extensive field work followed by population models. If the research indicates that murder has a significant effect on aye aye populations, then we should educate the Madagascar natives about biodiversity. Conservation education illuminating the qualities of the aye aye would eradicate superstition and protect its populations.
Since the 1950’s the Hawaiian monk seal population has been facing dangerously low population numbers. Only about 1,100–1,200 individuals remain in this monk seal population native only to Hawaii (Antonelis and others 2006). In an attempt to preserve them, research-ers have conducted studies on topics like habitat conditions and predation (Antonelis and others 2006), dietary habits (Longenecker 2010), and genetics (Schultz and others 2009). However, these factors don’t reveal a strong correlation or propose a solution to increase population numbers. I suggest researching the ecological niche of the Hawaiian monk seal pre-1950, when larger numbers inhabited Hawaii. In doing so, a comparative analysis of the past monk seal life-style with current research could help create a restructured solution to the population decline. A more comprehensive recovery plan would lead to an increase in the Hawaiian monk seal population – one of two remaining monk seal populations on the planet.
By Taylor Phillips
Sound facilitates the creation of community at sporting events by encouraging participation and creating a sense of unity between fans. This sense of unity is a result of the fans participation functioning as a sign of social identity. In this paper, I will seek to draw a connection between sound and the perceived community among fans at a sporting event. Using field material from the Duke Women’s Basketball game on Sunday, February 27, 2011 in Cameron Indoor Stadium as a source of data, I will examine the idea of participatory discrepencies in music and apply them to cheers, chants, and other sports related sounds. I will then use Turino’s idea of dicent-indices to help explain why a sense of unity is created among fans at sporting events, and examine the sign value of this said unity through the lens of outside observers.
By Alissa Wall.
The Japanese dolphin slaughter is decimating coastal populations of dolphins, yet it is unregulated by the International Whaling Conference (IWC). Emotionally charged pleas have yet to stop the unethical killings. Because wildlife conservation acts at the species level and because dolphins are comprised of many non-endangered species, a new method to conserve populations is needed. If individual populations of dolphins are demonstrated to exhibit unique cultures, then the destruction of individual populations parallels human genocide. A strong case could thus be made to extend the conservation of biodiversity to include the preservation of culture.
Several studies have been designed to determine whether dolphins exhibit cultures analogous to those of apes. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected in individual neurophysiology, intrapopulation interactions, and interpopulation interactions. The data will be analyzed and presented to the IWC with the goal of effecting policy change that protects dolphins from unnecessary destruction due to their advanced cognitive abilities and distinctive cultures.
The West Indian Manatee, found in Jamaican and Floridian waters is considered an “endangered species.” They require special attention, as humans are the sole reason why their existence is threatened in the first place. The UNEP currently estimates the population of manatees in Jamaica to be approximately 50, while population numbers of the same exact species sharing the Caribbean Sea in Florida is about 3000.
If the USFWS can maintain a steady increase in Florida’s population numbers then there is no reason that Jamaica’s population cannot attain the same. The discrepancies between these statistics must be eliminated. The only solution is to create and implement an effective recovery plan to merge the methods of each plan and personalize it to fit the habitat of Jamaica. Taking into consideration the social, cultural and economic factors unique to Jamaica, it is possible to mirror the success of the conservation efforts of the USA through education and awareness, more effective law enforcement and more cohesive management plans.
By Caroline Seng
Buff-headed capuchins are the rarest species of New-world primate. Their elusive nature and disturbingly low numbers results in less-than-adequate research opportunities. The scant research accumulated indicates that buff-headed capuchins are exclusively located in mature, old-growth forests and avoid habitat influenced by humans. Very little is known of their ecology. Studies on other capuchin species indicate that a majority of daylight hours are spent foraging. Research must therefore be conducted to define the relationship between movement and foraging.
In my proposed study, individuals from different social groups will be tagged with radio-GPS collars and their movements tracked over a period of time to determine daily and seasonal movement patterns. Many non-invasive analysis techniques, including radar tracking and surveying, will be employed to gather data on the relationship between movement and foraging. This new information can be used to inform conservation decisions. Conserving this species of capuchin will preserve a crucial link to the human evolutionary past.