Past Awards

FY 2007 | 3 – Inform | 7/10/13

Fellowship: Recovery of the River Otter in PWS

Kaithryn Ott, University of Wyoming
Contract Term: 07/01/07-06/30/08
Award: $25,000

Scope of Work:

This fellowship will support Kaithryn Ott?s masters project studying river otters. River otters (Lontra canadensis) were one of the first resources to recover from the impact of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) in Prince William Sound (PWS). Nonetheless, genetic evidence suggests that the numerical recovery of otters in oiled sites resulted from recolonization from adjacent areas rather than from local reproduction. Because increased trapping pressure on otters in recent years occurs mainly in non-oiled areas of PWS, previously-oiled sites may become important source locations for these animals. Whether otter reproduction has been attained in previously-oiled areas, however, is unknown. In this project we propose to determine whether reproduction was recovered in otter populations inhabiting previously-oiled areas of PWS, using genetic tools and non-invasive fecal sampling. We will estimate abundance, genetic structure, and relatedness. We predict that if otter reproduction recovered, genetic similarity in previously-oiled areas as well as the degree of relatedness of individuals will be comparable to those in non-oiled areas. In addition, we will estimate dispersal of individual animals originating in previously-oiled areas to non-oiled areas from fecal DNA analyses and GIS mapping to evaluate whether previously-oiled areas can serve as sources for sustainable otter harvest.

Download Report: 07-10-132.pdf