[MARMAM] New publication: Specimens of opportunity provide vital information for research and conservation regarding elusive whale species

Kerri J. Smith smithkerrij at gmail.com
Fri Jan 15 12:01:05 PST 2021

 Dear MARMAM community,

My colleagues and I are pleased to share our new publication, "Specimens of
opportunity provide vital information for research and conservation
regarding elusive whale species."

*Summary*: Elusive species are challenging to study and conserve because
basic elements of their biology may be unknown. Specimens of opportunity
provide a means of collecting information on these species and may be
critical for elusive species’ conservation. We used snowball sampling to
identify Sowerby’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens) specimens in museums
and research institutions. Snowball sampling proved highly effective: we
located 180 specimens from 24 institutions in North America and Europe, 62
of which were not listed in online collections databases, resulting in the
largest collated dataset for this species. Analysis of these data resulted
in several new findings for this species, including significant
morphological variation between specimens from different collection
regions, suggesting the presence of previously unidentified population
structuring in this species. These data provide critical information
regarding this species and demonstrate the effectiveness of specimens of
opportunity for elusive species research and conservation. We recommend
other researchers consider snowball sampling when designing research
projects utilizing specimens of opportunity. Our results demonstrate the
usefulness of snowball sampling and specimens of opportunity to elusive
species research and conservation, and the methods of our study can be
readily adapted for other species.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

*--Kerri J. Smith, Ph.D.*
Postdoctoral Researcher, Biology and Environmental Science, Baylor
Research Fellow - Smithsonian Institution
Website <https://kerrijsmith.wordpress.com/>
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