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Latitudinal variation in diet and patterns of human interaction in the marine otter

By J. C. Mangel, T. Whitty, G. Medina-Vogel, J. Alfaro-Shigueto, C. Caceres, B. J. Godley

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The marine otter (Lontra felina) inhabits patches of rocky coastline from central Peru to southern Chile and is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. Given the limited information available about the species, we set out to assess marine otter diet with a view to detecting latitudinal differences, and to assess marine otter activity budgets and interspecific interactions (including anthropogenic) at Peruvian fishing villages and to compare results with similar Chilean studies. Nine study sites from central Chile to southern Peru were sampled for otter spraints to assess relative frequency of prey types and two fishing ports in southern Peru were monitored through focal and scan observations to assess activity patterns, interspecific interactions, habitat use patterns, and dive durations. Results indicate that toward the northern part of its range, crustaceans become less important and fish more important in the diet. Interactions were observed between marine otters and other species, including stray dogs and cats. The strong dependence of marine otters on the availability of safe rocky shelters, and the species' apparent tolerance to living alongside humans raise conservation concerns about vulnerability to anthropogenic threats. These factors, if not correctly managed, could turn some of these rocky seashore patches into population sinks.

Date 2011
Publication Title Marine Mammal Science
Volume 27
Issue 2
Pages E14-E25
ISBN/ISSN 0824-0469
DOI 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.00414.x
Language English
Author Address Pro Delphinus, Octavio Bernal, 572-5, Lima 11, Peru.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agencies and organizations
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal ecology
  4. APEC countries
  5. Aquacultural and fisheries
  6. Aquatic organisms
  7. Arthropods
  8. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  9. Biological resources
  10. Carnivores
  11. Cats
  12. Chile
  13. Crustaceans
  14. Developed countries
  15. Diets
  16. Dogs
  17. Endangered species
  18. Fish
  19. Geographical variation
  20. Geography
  21. Habitats
  22. Humans
  23. Interactions
  24. Invertebrates
  25. Latin America
  26. Mammals
  27. Marine animals
  28. Marine mammals
  29. Otters.
  30. peer-reviewed
  31. Peru
  32. Pets and companion animals
  33. physical activity
  34. South America
  35. space
  36. stray animals
  37. threatened species
  38. Threshold Countries
  39. United States of America
  40. weasels
  41. Wild animals
  42. wildlife conservation
  43. wildlife management
  44. Zoos
  1. peer-reviewed