Analyzing the Role of Sound in the Endangered Species Act: A Petition for Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Critical Habitat in the Gulf of Mexico

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2017-04-27

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Abstract

A key feature of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the designation of critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. It is challenging to design critical habitat for marine species, however, due to knowledge gaps and the lack of spatial separation between key life functions (i.e. breeding, feeding). The acoustic component of habitat is particularly important for cetaceans, which rely on sound for communication and other essential life functions. Incorporating an acoustic factor into the critical habitat designations of threatened and endangered cetaceans has only occurred once to date. Thus, this project aims to suggest a way to incorporate sound into the ESA framework by drafting a citizen petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate critical habitat for sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Gulf of Mexico, largely based on the importance of acoustic habitat to their basic behavior.

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Elliott, Brianna (2017). Analyzing the Role of Sound in the Endangered Species Act: A Petition for Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Critical Habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14144.


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