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Title: The resilience of whale-watching tourism to climate change impacts on cetacean distribution
Author: Lambert, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 1219
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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Whale-watching tourism depends upon the continued presence of cetacean species within a specific area. However, current evidence suggests that the distribution and/or abundance of cetaceans may alter in response to continued changes in sea surface temperature with global climate change (GCC). This thesis develops and applies a framework for evaluating the resilience of whale-watching tourism to these potential temperature-induced shifts in cetacean distribution. The framework identifies three key components that are likely to affect the vulnerability of an operator to climate change impacts on cetacean occurrence (and tourist numbers). These are the likelihood of observing a cetacean, the type of whale-watching trip, and the type of tourist. Together with an examination of an operator's adaptive capacity, these data provide the type of information required to make an assessment of resilience. Using Western Scotland as a case study, framework components were populated using species distribution modeling, a motivation-based segmentation of whale-watchers, an examination of tourist's attitudes to scenarios of a changing environment and a segmentation of trip activity. Finally, data on potential vulnerability were combined with investigation of an operator's adaptive capacity (using semi-structured interviews) to make an evaluation of resilience to climate change. Our results highlight four key findings: (1) operators have high inherent resilience to a variable environment in which uncertainty is accepted, (2) vulnerability to climate change is influenced by the type and number of trips offered by whale-watch operators, (3) adaptive capacity can be improved through enhanced perceptions of risk, and (4) vulnerability to climate change is not independent from vulnerability to other factors. Future research should focus on those areas where whale-watching is less diverse, more specialised and where, currently, the climate is less variable, as it is in these regions that vulnerability may be highest and, most likely, capacity to develop resilience at its lowest.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Whale watching ; Cetacea