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Wildlife trade is a big and burgeoning business, but its welfare impacts have not been studied comprehensively. We review the animal welfare impacts of the wildlife trade as they were reported in the literature between 2006 and 2011. Rarely was the term welfare mentioned, evidence of welfare impact documented, or welfare improvement recommended. Literature focused on mammals and on animals killed on site, for luxury goods or food, and for traditional medicine. Welfare impacts may be underreported, particularly in international, illegal, and wild-caught trade and trade in reptiles. Greater attention should perhaps be paid to the welfare of animals traded alive and in larger numbers (e.g., birds, reptiles, amphibians) and to those—including mammals—potentially subject to greater impacts through live use (e.g., as pets). More evidence-based research is needed. Animal welfare should be integrated with wider issues; collaboration between conservationists and welfarists and the development of health and welfare levers to influence trade offer benefits to both people and wildlife.
A highly debated question that engages paleontologists, zoogeographers, and zoologists is how terrestrial mammals colonize islands. The question's oversimplification and the subjective and partial responses to it have led to reductionist models. Insular faunas and fossil assemblages result from a complex interaction of geological, biological (in a broad sense), climatic, eustatic, taphonomic, and historical processes. Insular assemblages and their accompanying variables should be investigated on a case-by-case basis. In this article, we discuss not only common misconceptions and their potential origins but also the key issues that should be addressed when dealing with the colonization of islands by land mammals. We call for the implementation of multi- and interdisciplinary research programs and teamwork, involving paleontological, geological, and stratigraphic information; climatological factors; sea-level evolution; sampling and analytical biases; ecological, physiological, taphonomic, and environmental factors; behavioral characters and ecological preferences; genetics; phylogeography; densities of colonizing populations; and historical reports of human-mediated faunal introductions.
Invasive species remain a major environmental problem in the world's oceans. Managing the vectors of introduction is the most effective means of mitigating this problem, but current risk assessments and management strategies are largely focused on species, not on vectors and certainly not on multiple simultaneous vectors. To highlight the issue that multiple vectors contribute to invasions, we analyzed the historical and contemporary contributions of eight maritime vectors to the establishment of nonindigenous species in California, where most species were associated with two to six vectors. Vessel biofouling looms larger than ballast water as a major vector and a management opportunity, but aquaculture risk appears reduced from historic levels. Standardized data on species abundances in each vector are lacking for a robust cross-vector assessment, which could be obtained in a proof-of-concept “vector blitz.” Management must shift away from one or two target vectors to coordination across multiple vectors.
Marine conservation efforts are often focused on increasing stocks of species with low population abundances by reducing mortality or enhancing recruitment. However, global changes in climate and ocean chemistry are density-independent factors that can strongly affect corals whether they are scarce or abundant—sometimes, the abundant corals are most affected. Because reproductive corals are sessile, density-independent effects of global changes such as physiological stress and resultant mortality can decouple stock abundance from recruitment and may accelerate the downward spiral of their reproductive rates.
Bats represent a substantial contribution to mammalian species diversity and ecosystem processes in North America, including their role in performing important economic service functions. The development and expansion of wind energy facilities is a key threat to bat populations in North America. Dead bats are being found underneath wind turbines across North America, and bat fatalities have been documented at almost all of the wind facilities at which thorough bat surveys have been conducted. The results suggest that thousands of bats may be killed annually at some wind facilities, and recent estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of bats may be killed annually in the contiguous United States. Here, I use published bat fatality information to derive estimates of the number of bats killed at wind energy facilities in the contiguous United States in 2012 and conclude that over 600,000 bats may have died as a result of interactions with wind turbines.
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