by Matt Lee
The common thresher (Alopias vulpinus) is a widely dispersed species of shark that inhabits oceans all around the globe. However, because of the species’s high value as a marketable commodity, populations of the common thresher are currently being exploited to irreversible levels. The key obstacle to preventing exploitation is the dearth of quantitative knowledge of shark population numbers, which is the result of unreported target and bycatch fishing of the animal. As an apex predator, the common thresher plays a key regulatory role in countless marine ecosystems, and its removal could produce negative consequences worldwide. More research must be performed to establish the actual extent to which commercial fisheries effect population numbers. With such research completed, scientists and policy makers could better establish conservation goals and manage resources to better protect the species, which is already on the path to extinction.
Found in all tropical and warm-temperate seas worldwide, the whale shark is known as the largest fish in the world, yet it is also one of the least-known shark species. This biologically unique species is declining in numbers due to its vulnerability to exploitation because of its large size, slow growth, and late maturation. Moreover, disturbances to their ecosystems are impacting their migration, feeding, and mating patterns. Nevertheless, current information (reliable scientific data) on their migration routs is insufficient for conservation policies to be created and most research methods are limited. This is why I am proposing to use a satellite transmitter tagging method to study the migration patterns and correlated genetic variability within whale sharks. This will be done by tagging and extracting skin tissue from the same specimen in order to follow their migration tracks via satellite data and analyzing their DNA. After analyzing and interpreting my data I expect to show that whale sharks are able to travel long ranges through multiple political jurisdictions, thus confirming the need to manage the populations on an international level.
Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), a species endemic to the waters of New Zealand, is on the road to extinction due to gillnet bycatch. This has resulted in much conflict between fishery interests and wildlife advocacy groups, not to mention the loss of a species. Currently, the government has designated sanctuaries for the protection of the dolphins. However, the sanctuaries limit fishermen, not the dolphins from leaving, so bycatch still occurs. The four populations of dolphins are separated, which contributes to genetic invariability and inbreeding because of less migration. To combat these issues, bycatch reduction devices (BRD’s) should be researched in order to change the design of gillnets. Such modifications have been implemented with fyke nets and have shown considerable success. Implementing BRD’s would limit bycatch as well as decrease genetic invariability through an artificial “baiting” method. With the success of a critically endangered species, the BRD’s can be expanded to other bycatch issues in other waters, helping the fishing economy in the process as well.
Abstract: Since American colonization, Grizzly Bears populations in the lower 48 states have been reduced to less than 2% of their historic range. This decline can be attributed to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the abundance of human-induced deaths. Because Grizzly Bears are known to be so aggressive, they are often found in compromising situations in which they must be put down to ensure the safety of the humans involved. The most effective way to fix this is to prevent these altercations from happening in the first place. By utilizing the Grizzly’s tendency to adapt by avoidance through classical conditioning techniques and by educating hunters on good hunting practices, the number of human-induced Grizzly Bear deaths can be significantly reduced. Research into these two areas will prove extremely beneficial in sustaining current Grizzly Bear populations, and, if successful, these tools can be applied to other species as well.
Conservationists are concerned about the detrimental impact that global climate change could have on manatee populations. The manatee is an animal unique to the state of Florida; the creature’s endangerment and eventual extinction could have a detrimental effect on both Florida’s economy and biodiversity. Because Florida is a state filled with bodies of water and surrounded by the ocean, aquatic ecosystems and the creatures that reside in them are extremely important to conserve and protect, including the manatee and the seagrass beds that they require for food. I propose that more thorough tagging of manatees occurs in order to see migration routes and what seagrass beds manatees frequent. Then, I will create a model that explores the interaction and interconnectedness of manatees and seagrass environments when affected by global climate change. This model would provide potential strategies for the protection of both the manatee and the seagrass beds, including potential conservation initiatives and possible legislative controls. These research methods can be used in the future to protect other endangered species and their habitats.
The tiger (Panthera tigris) is now facing a severe crisis due human excessive consumption of products made out of the tiger parts. More than 90 percent of the tiger’s population has been eradicated for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The current approximated number of only 4,000 individuals observed today in the wild is evidence of the tiger’s geographic range collapse. This problem is growing, as the demand for tiger products is rising and the tiger trading black market is expanding. Western medicine has been put forth to provide a safer way of consuming medication together with to address the current crisis of the species. Therefore, this research proposal aims to answer whether the available alternatives to TCM, in particular Viagra, will decrease the demand for tiger parts and eventually increase the number of the fauna. In order to address this question, effective surveys must be undertaken. The results from this research will generate a better conservation plan for the species. Moreover, this will help reduce and prevent the trading of tiger parts in the black market existing across the world.
Gorillas are threatened with extinction unless steps are taken to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus within the species. While gorillas are also threatened by habitat loss and poaching, extensive research has already been conducted on these topics and steps are being taken to reduce these threats. To limit the spread of the Ebola virus, more information needs to be collected on the mechanisms that spread the Ebola virus. Field studies should be conducted to determine whether the virus is being spread through a carrier species such as the fruit bat, or whether it is being spread primarily through interactions between population groups. It is important to gain this knowledge since it could not only help save gorillas, but also save humans as well since the Ebola virus is also a deadly disease that decimates human populations.