Field updates: Argentina, September 2023

Written by Dr. Dee Boersma The ongoing pinniped (seals and walruses) die-off on Peninsula Valdés is catastrophic. Our contacts in Argentina–two local veterinarians (Marci Uhart and Ralph Vanstreels), and Claudia Campagna of WCS–tell us that hundreds and potentially thousands of sea lions and elephant seals have died. Avian flu (more widely known as bird flu) has devastated seabird populations throughout the world, but this is the first time it has reached Chile and Argentina. Over a million chickens were killed just in Peru to try and stop its spread. A few sea lions and one elephant seal tested positive for […]

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Field updates: Botswana, summer 2023

Written by Leigh West African wild dogs are very social animals, living in groups called packs. Wild dog packs have a dominant male and female, and it is this dominant pair that breeds each year to produce litters of pups. Packs of wild dogs are very cooperative, hunting and raising their young together. Two of the wild dogs that the Abrahms Lab collared this summer, Fossey and Cloud, belong to newly formed packs with a very interesting backstory. The dominant male of Marula pack, Sepupa, was killed last summer. This led the pack’s dominant female to leave her home range,

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Humpback whale in singing position. Photo credit NOAA / Dr. Louis M. Herman

Using the power of models to protect whales from possible ship-strikes

Written by Dr. Anna Nisi We have been building cutting-edge models of species distributions for four great whale species – blue, fin, sperm, and humpback whales. One key threat to the great whales is collisions with shipping vessels, and identifying places where ship-strike risk is high is essential for informing mitigation actions like vessel slow-downs. Our next step is to overlay whale distributions with maps of global shipping traffic, to prioritize these areas for conservation action and help protect these vulnerable species. The results of our work will inform expanding vessel slow-down programs to encompass larger areas and reduce whale

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Changing course: Relocating commercial tanker lanes significantly reduces threat of chronic oiling for a top marine predator

Metadata Authors: Eric L. Wagner, Esteban Frere, P. Dee BoersmaJournal: Marine Pollution BulletinDOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2023.11 Summary Summary written by Sofia Denkovski Argentinian oil and effects on seabirds Surveys from 1982-1990 suggested more than 40,000 penguins died per year in Chubut and Santa Cruz from chronic oiling. This was hypothesized to be due to the colonies’ proximity to oil centers and shipping lanes. Why is oil so bad for birds? Oiled birds lose their ability to thermoregulate and can ingest the toxic oil. Penguins are especially vulnerable due to remote breeding sites and inability to fly. Changes after establishment of 1997 marine

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Field updates: Readying the 2023 season

After Assistant Professor of Biology and Boersma Endowed Chair Dr. Briana Abrahms and her team deployed GPS-audio wildlife tracking collars on African wild dogs and lions during the summer of 2022, Dr. Abrahms and Dr. Kasim Rafiq, a postdoc in the Abrahms Lab, have been working with industry collaborators to build AI models that detect behaviors (such as hunting) and hunger levels from the collar data. In the coming months, Kasim will travel to the Okavango Delta to work with our collaborators at Botswana Predator Conservation to deploy additional African wild dog and lion collars and collect the behavioral data – by

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