Monday, 17 September 2018

Australian fur seal pup population is shrinking

Long-term monitoring program effective in tracking seal populations over time
Date:  September 5, 2018
Source:  PLOS
A census of annual pup production by Australian fur seal populations revealed the first reduction since species-wide protection was implemented in 1975, according to a study published September 5 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Rebecca McIntosh of the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues. The study also shows that the long-term monitoring program for the Australian fur seal has effectively tracked population trends over time.
In the marine environment, monitoring the abundance and population trends of a top predator can provide measures of ecosystem health and management success. Fur seals, Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus, are important upper trophic level predators that, in Australia, are a protected marine species facing specific challenges related to fisheries and aquaculture management, ecotourism, potential impacts on seabirds, and response planning for oil spills and other emergencies. For these reasons, it is important to obtain accurate information about their abundance and population changes. An ad-hoc monitoring program coordinated across multiple stakeholders conducted a range-wide census of live pups in the Austral summers of 2002, 2007 and 2013. In the new study, McIntosh and colleagues set out to assess whether the monitoring program for the Australian fur seal is achieving its goals of determining pup abundance and estimating population trends.

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