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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 6:173-184 (2008)  -  DOI:

Challenges of assessing cetacean population recovery and conservation status

Milton M. R. Freeman*

Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E1, Canada

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the extent to which depleted whale populations have recovered (or not) and their perceived current conservation status and prognosis for continued survival, as represented in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red Lists. It is concluded that current hypothetical and untested predictions of extinction risk, while in many cases drawing attention to justifiable conservation needs, may seriously undervalue the resilience of species that have evolved to live in a dynamic and ever-changing reality including centuries of heavy exploitation by humankind. The paper questions the appropriateness of Red Listing criteria for long-lived highly mobile ocean-dwelling species that are scarcely affected by the principal threats upon terrestrial or aquatic species living in relatively restricted areas subject to habitat fragmentation and/or loss. This analysis draws attention to the problems associated with objectively assessing the conservation status of charismatic species and the value conflicts that may override evidence-based scientific conservation assessments.

KEY WORDS: Whales · Whaling · Conservation · Population recovery · Predicting extinction · Red Listing · Charismatic species

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Cite this article as: Freeman MMR (2008) Challenges of assessing cetacean population recovery and conservation status. Endang Species Res 6:173-184.

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