|Town/Region||Alejandro Selkirk Island, Juan Fernandez Archipelago|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||1 Oct 2003|
The Juan Fernandez Archipelago, located some 670 km off the coast of Chile, is a unique oceanic ecosystem that contains a high degree of biodiversity and several endemic species of flora and fauna. In the marine environment, one large marine predator of exceptional importance is the Juan Fernández fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii), which from 1687 onwards was severely depleted by sealers being considered extinct by 1900. Recent estimations of the total population size of A. philippii on this area, reach ca. 27,000 individuals, 9,000 of which are pups. In spite of the encouraging results about the growth of this population, there is growing concern on regard to the conservation threats they face. During our surveys on the Juan Fernández Archipelago throughout January and March, 2004, we observed several individuals entangled on fishing nets and ropes, and witnessed the effect of introduced species on a fur seal breeding colony: two dogs killed ca. 100 pups on one of the most important colonies of A. philippii in just one day.
The history of exploitation and further recovery of A. philippii makes it essential to study the ecology of this species and asses the effect of the current conservation threats faced by the population. With the purpose of evaluating which ecological factors are influencing the population dynamics of A. philippii, this project will mainly focus on the maternal strategies and the reproductive success of lactating females during the rearing period and will determine the rates of mortality and survival of pups. Additionally we will asses the effect of pelagic fisheries and domestic animals on the population, together with implementing an educational program, thrusting initiatives against littering and raising consciousness on the effect of domestic animals on native flora and fauna of the Juan Fernández Archipelago Ecosystem.
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