According to APRN, new research conducted in Prince William Sound by Markus Horning of Oregon State University indicates that predation may play a larger role in sea lion populations than scientific models have been taking into account.
Horning's tagging study found that the number of sea lion pups killed by predators was greater than expected. Based on his finding, he reexamined data that contributed to the National Marine Fisheries Service's biological opinion about why the endangered western Aleutians population of Steller sea lions has not recovered.
When Horning reanalyzed the Steller sea lion data using his conclusions, he found that what had been construed as a decline in birth rate could also be accounted for by predation.
Horning is careful to note that his theory about the western Aleutians population is untested, and that scientific models in general are speculative. But he thinks that if federal officials allowed it, he could conduct a tagging study to learn more.
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