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The social and environmental history of the River Wye, Wales, as viewed through the changing status of its Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) population

Slater, Fred M. 2021. The social and environmental history of the River Wye, Wales, as viewed through the changing status of its Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) population. Iucn Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 38 (2) , pp. 65-72.
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Abstract

The River Wye has long had a social meaning to the people of Wales and further afield beginning with the search for the “picturesque” in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, through to the recognition of its environmental value with its designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), a key element in that designation of the Wye and at five other such sites in Wales, is the top predator on the river and as such reflects the cumulative changes over time within the riverine food chain and environment. Historically it lived in a river of such salmonid abundance that many poor families relied on salmon as their main protein resource with plenty left for a thriving otter population. Land use change leading to siltation of spawning grounds and agrochemical effects on otter reproduction resulted on the Wye, as elsewhere, in the species decline. Measures to stimulate recovery of the otter population have been well documented including regular surveys complemented by post-mortem analyses. The recovery has been accompanied by a greater awareness of the wider needs of the species as reflected in the provision of artificial holts and in underpasses etc. in new road developments. However, the positive elements of its changing status are not universally welcomed.

Item Type: Article
Status: In Press
Schools: Biosciences
ISSN: 1023-9030
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 28 August 2020
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2021 16:30
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/137138

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