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  운영자 2005-10-19 21:21:09 | Hit : 26195 | Vote : 8712
Subject   [자료] Conservation biology: Is this any way to save a species?
Nature 436, 14-16 (7 July 2005) | doi: 10.1038/436014a

Conservation biology:  Is this any way to save a species?
Rex Dalton1

Rex Dalton is Nature's US West Coast correspondent.

Top of pageAbstractThanks to the influence of a powerful US senator, more than $120 million has been pumped into research on Alaska's endangered Steller sea lions in just four years. Rex Dalton asks what we've learned.

A hardy creature of Alaska's forbidding Aleutian Islands, the mighty Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) survives where few other mammals can. In freezing temperatures and battered by Arctic storms, bulls of the species can reach 1,000 kilograms.

But a scientific initiative to determine why the Aleutian population of Stellers has plunged over the past three decades is making them a wilderness legend for another reason. For some biologists, the Steller has become a symbol of how not to conduct complex ecosystems research. "The dollars were directed toward dealing with a political conflict," claims Larry Crowder, a population ecologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Over the past four years, the US government has poured more than $120 million into Steller research — a sum described by one biologist working on the species as "obscene". It dwarfs the funding for research on other endangered marine animals, several of which are much closer to extinction. Yet this highly politicized programme has so far failed to resolve a key question — whether fishing is responsible for the Steller's decline.

Steller sea lions, named after the German naturalist Georg Steller, who described them in 1741, were abundant in the northern Pacific until the 1960s. But by 1990, numbers off western Alaska had dropped so dramatically that the Steller was declared a 'threatened' species under the US Endangered Species Act. In western Alaskan waters, this listing did nothing to halt the decline. So in 1997, federal officials upgraded the status of the population west of 144° W to 'endangered'. Today, the western population of Stellers stands at around 35,000 adults.

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