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OttersEcology, behaviour and conservation$
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Hans Kruuk

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198565871

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565871.001.0001

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Evolutionary relationships, questions and methods of otter ecology

Evolutionary relationships, questions and methods of otter ecology

(p.29) Chapter 3 Evolutionary relationships, questions and methods of otter ecology

Hans Kruuk

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes otter phylogeny, including the latest analyses of mitochondrial DNA. They are Mustelids, originating some 11-14 million years ago in the Miocene in south-east Asia, main branches being Lutra and Lontra. A rapid species divergence was followed by long-persisting genera. Some intra-specific variation is described. Central questions posed in this book address the relationship between resources and otter numbers, energetics relating to resource exploitation (with thermo-regulation in cold water), and social aspects of distribution in their habitat, mortality, and reproduction. Research methodology to study these questions is described, including individual recognition in the field, trapping, radio-tracking, and pitfalls when using indirect methods such as faecal analysis and distribution of scent-marks. Some study areas are described.

Keywords:   otter phylogeny, mitochondrial DNA, methodology, energetics, radio-tracking, faecal analysis

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