In coastal areas around the world, human populations are substantially impacting the health of wildlife species and the coastal wetland ecosystems on which they depend. Researchers will study how cities along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay have changed the health and behavior of the North American river otter. As a keystone species consuming a wide variety of prey, the river otter is a key indicator of ecosystem health. The team will look at what the otters are eating, what parasites infect them and how they act in different rivers connecting the Chesapeake Bay, comparing areas that have different human population densities. Findings will help inform coastal conservation of river otters and other animals, as well as inform educational outreach programs in the surrounding communities. The researchers also will assemble a team of citizen scientists to assist with this work.
Grant amount awarded
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Katrina M Lohan, PhD