7 Conservationethics

7 Conservationethics - What, exactly are our moral...

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What, exactly are our moral obligations to the sooty tern? Some ruminations on our ethical responsibility to maintain a world that does not totally suck.
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The Sooty Tern From the title of the talk, you may have guessed that the sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscata , is endangered. It isn’t. It is, however, a very cool bird. It is one of those animals that lives an interesting and complicated life, and in many ways, interacts with aspects of the environment we might, as humans modify, and in the future, lead to its extinction. I think it might be a good idea to think about how to save it NOW, before its extinction is even in question. It is probably too late to save pandas.
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The sooty tern is actually one of the most abundant seabirds on the planet. It is very widely distributed on tropical islands, especially coral atolls, it migrates large distances at sea, hardly ever coming to land, and eats fish. Since the last ice age, this species has actually rebounded from much smaller numbers. This bird is migratory and dispersive, wintering more widely through the tropical oceans. Sooty Terns breed in colonies on rocky or coral islands. It nests in a ground scrape or hole and lays one to three eggs. It feeds by picking fish from the surface in marine environments, often in large flocks, and rarely comes to land except to breed, and can stay out to sea (either soaring or floating on the water) for between 3 to 10 years. It belongs to the family Sternidae, which has 44 species, within the Charadriiformes order, class Aves, phylum Chordata. Our common ancestor with this species probably lived about 280 million years ago. It is part of an adaptive radiation of birds that began in the Cretaceous period, 120 million years ago, and continues today….and will most likely continue with renewed vigor after we are gone, as ecological opportunities opened by the extinctions we create allow for the adaptive radiation of new birds.
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Among the terns, there are some birds that are endemic to very small regions. For instance, the Inca tern, Larosterna inca , nests on a few islands of the coast of South America, is restricted in its foraging to the Humbolt current, is dependent upon the nests of Humboldt penguins, and eats anchovies and lobsters, both of which are species that humans exploit. Right now, the Inca tern, is near the point at which people might start calling it
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course BIOS 101 taught by Professor Molumby during the Spring '08 term at Ill. Chicago.

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7 Conservationethics - What, exactly are our moral...

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