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The 'capacity to reason' in conservation biology and policy: the southern elephant seal branding controversy


Jabour, JA and Bradshaw, CJA, The 'capacity to reason' in conservation biology and policy: the southern elephant seal branding controversy, Journal for Nature Conservation, 12, (1) pp. 25-39. ISSN 1617-1381 (2004) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jnc.2004.04.001


Modern environmental research is typically governed by a number of protocols designed to embrace the epistemological and ethical values of society. These protocols evolve in response to changing values, and few disciplines in environmental science have received as much attention as biological conservation. This paper describes the events leading to a controversy regarding a particular research technique used to investigate the cause of a long-term population decline of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) at Macquarie Island, south of Australia - hot-iron branding of individuals. We discuss procedures and protocols that were in place at the time the controversy erupted, the subsequent reflection of the researchers and authorities involved, and the steps taken to avoid future occurrences. Our treatment of the issue is framed within a discussion of modern ethical philosophy, and our aim is to identify the true source of the controversy. We offer several suggestions as to how such events can be avoided in the future, and provide a model framework for incorporating changing ethical values into important biological conservation objectives. © 2004 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Environmental policy, legislation and standards
Objective Field:Environmental education and awareness
UTAS Author:Jabour, JA (Dr Julia Jabour)
UTAS Author:Bradshaw, CJA (Dr Corey Bradshaw)
ID Code:31669
Year Published:2004
Deposited By:IASOS
Deposited On:2004-08-01
Last Modified:2005-06-06

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