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June 02, 2020 - Scientific American

Should Ecologists Treat Male and Female Animals like 'Different Species'?

Should Ecologists Treat Male and Female Animals like 'Different Species'?
AlbatrossFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Creatures from albatross to loggerhead turtles will use different habitats, depending on their sex—a factor that is often not accounted for in conservation plans

Albatross—majestic, wide-winged seabirds—skim the ocean’s surface or dive into the water to catch fish, squid and crustaceans. They also seize opportunity, sometimes swooping down to grab the hooked bait trailed behind longline fishing vessels. But this apparently easy meal comes with a costly risk: the beaks and bodies of the birds often get snagged, and the lines pull them under until they drown. Each year 100,000 albatross die this way. In some populations, most of the victims are female. And because albatross only start mating after a number of years, as late as age 10, and lay one egg per year, losing so many mature females threatens the survival of those populations.

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