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Title: Identifying key threats and conservation requirements for the critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoise
Author: Mogensen, Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 7139
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Evidence-based conservation is the most effective way to preserve biodiversity. However, for many species robust long-term data sets are not available and so the process of selecting effective interventions is poorly-informed and at risk of being ineffective. The Critically Endangered Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis), a unique freshwater cetacean endemic to the Yangtze River, China, is subject to numerous anthropogenic threats that have led to significant population decline in recent decades. Conservation of this species has been severely limited by a poor understanding of the causes of population decline. By using four novel lines of analysis on already existing data sets, this study firstly assessed whether there is currently a sufficient evidence base to inform conservation of this species. This process established conservation-relevant conclusions and identified key remaining knowledge gaps without having to use valuable resources and time to gather further data. Subsequently, boat-based mapping studies have revealed conservation-relevant spatial and temporal patterns relating to potential threat presence and YFP habitat use on multiple spatial scales, whilst extensive interview-based surveys with fishers have been used to gather detailed information on patterns in illegal fishing gear use and YFP bycatch, as well as conservation-relevant socio-economic data. In addition, longitudinal interview data has provided an invaluable insight into changes in human-wildlife interactions and high-risk human behaviours over time. Lastly, an interview survey with key stakeholders involved in Yangtze finless porpoise conservation has demonstrated that evidence-based conservation is not being applied to this species, meaning that interventions are not targeted to key causes of decline and there is a risk of conservation complacency and extinction of a second Yangtze River cetacean. The multi-disciplinary research presented here has demonstrated how the conservation process for data-poor endangered species can be improved by increasing the knowledge base surrounding potential threats and causes of direct and indirect mortality, which has wider application for other at-risk species.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available