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The role of behavioral ecology in understanding and mitigating global change impacts on top predators

Briana Abrahms
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Postdoctoral Fellow
Seminar date:
Monday, February 3, 2020 - 12:00
HCK 132

From our oceans to savannas, animals must cope with dynamic environments that are undergoing unprecedented rates of change. How animals move and behave in response to environmental variation can profoundly shape their individual fitness, population dynamics, and ecological interactions. Examining these linkages is important for gaining mechanistic insight into how and why animal communities will be affected by global change, and for targeting effective conservation strategies. In this talk I’ll describe how the study of animal behavior and natural history provides a valuable lens for linking environmental process to ecological pattern. Using empirical data from top predators in terrestrial and marine systems, I show how the differential impacts of environmental change across individuals and species can be understood from a behavioral ecology perspective, which aids the understanding of these species as ecosystem sentinels. Specifically, I’ll highlight: how behavior mediates the spatial responses of a wide-ranging carnivore to anthropogenic development; how climate conditions alter the costs and benefits of behavioral strategies in a migratory marine predator; and how we can improve our ability to conserve mobile species whose space use and exposure to threats can change rapidly in space and time by explicitly considering the dynamic nature of animal behaviors and their environments.

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