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River Otters as Ambassadors for Aquatic Conservation: A Logical Link with Grand Teton National Park?
River Otters as Ambassadors for Aquatic Conservation: A Logical Link with Grand Teton National Park?

Tue, Jul 14


Replay Available

River Otters as Ambassadors for Aquatic Conservation: A Logical Link with Grand Teton National Park?

Tom Serfass Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Frostberg State University, Maryland Photo credit: remote capture image by Tom Serfass

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Time & Location

Jul 14, 2020, 6:00 PM MDT

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About the event

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River otters are an appealing, charismatic wildlife species dependent on healthy aquatic environments for survival.  Otters thus have enormous potential to serve as ambassadors to promote aquatic conservation.  This presentation will review outcomes of a recent, ongoing study of ecological and sociological aspects pertaining to the population of otters along the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.  The study is intended to establish a foundation for developing the otter as a focal species to promote aquatic education, tourism, and related conservation activities.  A large portion of the presentation will focus on images of otters and other carnivores obtained by “camera trapping” at otter latrines (areas where otters communicate with each other through scent marking) along the Snake River.  The camera trapping study provides unique insight on times of the day best for viewing otters, the value of latrines as centers for aquatic education activities, and the potential for latrines to serve as sites for monitoring other carnivores – wolves, grizzly bears, cougars, and many smaller carnivores regularly were detected at otter latrines!

Tom Serfass is a Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Biology and Natural Resources at Frostburg State University, MD.  Much of Tom’s research and conservation activities have focused largely on the design, implementation, and evaluation of factors contributing to successful, publicly supported wildlife restoration programs, and projects related to developing medium-sized carnivores (especially otters) as flagship species.  Tom conceived and coordinated the successful Pennsylvania River Otter and Fisher Reintroduction Projects.  During the past 20 years Tom has mentored the completion of >40 MS and PhD students, conducting research ranging from evaluating the fates of river otters reintroduced in western New York to assessing the natural history and conservation value (potential as flagship species) of spotted-necked otters (Lutra maculicollis) and other wildlife at Rubondo Island National Park, Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Currently, Tom is working in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem to assess the potential of river otters to serve as a flagship species to promote aquatic conservation and education. Tom is the North American and African Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Otter Specialist Group.

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