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Sea Turtle Protection

Research on Sea Turtle from Asia

This report is written in order to educate the reader about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle, a species of marine life that conducts its unique and famous nesting ritual on Vizag’s shores; and the efforts in place by the Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA) to protect it. All data is collected, maintained and interpreted by the VSPCA.

Over the last few years, rapid development along the Vizag coast and increasing pollution levels in our city have been causing severe deterioration of our environment, making it utterly difficult for sea turtles to nest here. There have been cases of mother turtles being unable to find a proper place to lay their eggs on account of horrifically dirty conditions in our polluted beach, and so they lay eggs in the water itself, with no hope for eggs to survive. It is tragic because this constrains our efforts to conserve this highly endangered marine creature that has been around in our planet from the time of the dinosaurs. The mighty dinosaurs had become extinct, their kind unable to survive the earth, whereas these humble creatures of the sea continued, until today.

According to the Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) of the IUCN, there has been a 50% reduction in population size since the 1960s. Although some nesting populations have increased in the past few years, the overall reduction is greater than the overall increase. Expansion of the shrimp trawling fishery in the eastern Indian Ocean in the mid-1970s has resulted in numerous olive ridley deaths. Over 10,000 olive ridley carcasses a year have been counted on the Orissa coast since 1999. These carcasses have largely been attributed to the shrimp trawl fishery, but trawling is not the only source of olive ridley mortality in the eastern Indian Ocean.

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Characterizing Individual Variation in Resource Selection of Elk in Missouri

Research on Elk from North America

Resource selection functions (RSF) are widely applied by ecologists in quantifying space use from animal telemetry data. Inference is typically desired at the population-level. A common approach is to pool data from all telemetered animals and fit a model where coefficients at the individual level are considered random effects drawn from a population-level distribution. This technique has been shown to be valuable for understanding broad scale selection, but when the focal population is comprised of various intrinsic categories (e.g. age class) or are spatially clustered (e.g. two sub-populations occupying different areas of the landscape), valuable information may be lost by pooling data. We are investigating individual variation in resource selection among a population of elk (Cervus elaphus) introduced into the Missouri Ozarks and monitored thereafter. We are modeling elk location data collected from Global Positioning System (GPS) collars using Bayesian discrete choice RSFs fit at the level of each individual animal, and exploring the results in two ways: 1) interpretation of variability among individual RSF coefficients, and 2) examination of model selection approaches, comparing the importance of variables in predicting selection across these individuals.

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Giraffe Skin Disease

Research on Giraffe from Africa

The general trend of giraffe populations across Africa is decreasing, with a > 40% reduction rate of giraffe populations over the past 20 years. Despite this documented decline in giraffe abundance, little research has been conducted on giraffes, and this lack of knowledge is hindering the assessment of the exact conservation status of this species. Giraffe populations are not only at risk due to anthropogenic sources, but also are vulnerable to carnivore predation throughout their range. Various skin diseases have recently begun to affect giraffe populations and pose an important threat to giraffe conservation.

Broadly, the skin diseases affecting several populations of giraffe have been collectively referred to as Giraffe
Skin Disease (GSD). Such skin diseases have been observed in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara National Parks in northern Tanzania, and Ruaha National Park in south-central Tanzania. Some have suggested that severe GSD can lead to lower leg lameness making adult giraffes particularly vulnerable to lion predation. We are documenting the spatial configuration of GSD in Ruaha, developing an abundance estimate for giraffe in Ruaha, and documenting the proportion of the population suffering from mild, moderate, and severe GSD.

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Moose and Climate Change

Research on Moose from North America

Warming temperatures associated with global climate change have been causally linked to changes in the behavior, reproduction, distribution, and abundance of a variety of species. Moose are temperate-zone obligates and become stressed when ambient temperatures rise above certain seasonal thresholds. Climate change can decrease moose survivability and is suggested to be a factor limiting the southern geographic range of the species. Despite the obvious risk that warming temperatures associated with climate change present to the continued survival of moose, the exact influence of warming temperatures on moose movement and population viability remains poorly    understood.

We are investigating whether the connection between ambient temperature and activity/movement can be readily explored in wild moose systems to quantitatively isolate the conditions at which moose become heat stressed. Once the threshold of heat stress is appropriately established, then the influence of warming ambient temperatures on moose population viability can be evaluated.

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RNASeq files for fish health in the Tully and Daintree rivers

DataSet on Fish from Oceania

These files illumina sequencing reads representing the hepatic transcriptome of wild caught barramundi from the Daintree River (fish numbers 2-7) or the Tully River (fish numbers 97-104).

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