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Behavior and Demography in Vertebrate Conservation
Individual differences in behavior and social status can in theory determine the rate of population change and thus the threat that imperiled species face in the real world. While there has been an increase in the number of studies addressing the interface between behavior and conservation theory, a paradigm for applying behavioral knowledge to real-world conservation problems has not yet been developed. The goal of the research supported by an NSF Career Award is to integrate theories from behavioral ecology with quantitative techniques in demography in order to examine the effects of a variety of reproductive behaviors on extinction risk. Findings from this basic research will provide practitioners with guidelines for understanding when behavior should be an important component of a particular management strategy (e.g., can we identify behavioral cues of population dysfunction that provide cost-effective monitoring alternatives?). The specific goals of this work include: 1) establishing a long-term field research program on behavior and demography of Californiasea lions (Zalophus californianus) in theGulf of California, 2) developing a theoretical framework to integrate behavioral data into extinction risk models, and 3) incorporating these results into management decisions.