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The rise of double-crested cormorants: Too much of a good thing?


Cara J

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The double-crested cormorant is a prehistoric looking,matte-black bird with yellow-orange facial skin and a blue eye ring. Commonly found in fresh and salt water across North America, this relative of pelicans is an expert at diving to catch small fish.©D. Tommy King/Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center For centuries, people have viewed cormorants negatively. In classical literature, the word cormorant represented greed and gluttony. However, natural resource professionals have long recognized the ecological value of all wildlife, and cormorants are no exception. For example, as an upper trophic-level predator in aquatic systems, cormorants are useful indicators of environmental pollution and may contribute to limiting invasive prey populations. But over the last 40 years a major surge in the population of the double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) — a large, long-lived, fish-eating water bird and one of six species of North American cormorants — has led to negative interactions with other wildlife and society. In recent years, a host of real and perceived cormorant conflicts have been raised by various natural resource stakeholder groups and the public, with impacts to fisheries, aquaculture, co-nesting species and habitat heading the concerns (Dorr et al. 2014). Why the bad rap? So why do cormorants invoke [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/the-rise-of-double-crested-cormorants-too-much-of-a-good-thing/

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