14 August 2019

Odontocete adaptations to human impact and vice-versa

We just published a book chapter on "Odontocete adaptations to human impact and vice-versa".

Bearzi G., Piwetz S., Reeves R.R. 2019. Odontocete adaptations to human impact and vice-versa. In Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Odontocetes. Springer, Heidelberg.

ABSTRACT: Some mammalian species that have not succumbed to pervasive human impacts and encroachments have managed to adapt to certain types of human activities. Several odontocetes have modified their behavior to persist, and in some cases even prosper, in human-altered riverine, coastal, and oceanic habitat. Examples include cooperation with fishers to catch fish, depredation on fishing gear, scavenging, and other kinds of opportunistic foraging (e.g., behind trawlers, around fish farms, or near built structures such as dams and offshore platforms). Some populations have adapted to life in human-made channels and waterways. We review information on the variety of odontocete adaptations to human encroachment, highlight some of the risks and benefits, and try to single out factors that may trigger or contribute to adaptation. Adaptation often brings wildlife into close contact with humans, which leads to conflict. We discuss the challenges of coexistence and contend that we humans, too, need to adjust our behavior and change how we perceive and value wildlife for coexistence to be possible. In addition to good management and conservation action, tolerance on our part will be key for allowing wildlife—odontocetes included—to persist. We advocate cultural and even spiritual shifts that can foster tolerance, nurture the social change that leads to appreciation for wildlife, and create more opportunities to preserve nature.


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