Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA, Blumstein Lab
Investigation of mass migration in parading shrimp and its application in “Shrimp Watching” ecotourism management
Have you ever traveled to Thailand before? Have you heard about parading shrimp? If you would like to learn more about Thailand and the shrimp, please join me at the EcoEvoPub this week!
Every September, parading shrimp will perform a unique migratory behavior in which hundreds of thousands of them exhibit upstream migration by collectively walking on land. This so-called “parading behavior” has captured the public’s interest and has been promoted as an ecotourism site in Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand. An increase in tourism may disturb parading shrimp and could result in local extinction of the shrimp population and associated ecosystem disruption. An understanding of the behavior of this shrimp will allow us to identify potentially disruptive human activities. However, fundamental knowledge regarding this shrimp and their behavior has never been explored. In this work, I (1) described the natural history of the parading behavior and investigated proximate and ultimate causes of the parading behavior, (2) studied the anthropogenic disturbances from tourists that disturb the parading shrimp, and (3) evaluated how tourists, stakeholders, and locals valued the shrimp in term of economy, culture, and environment. Ultimately, I applied the results of these studies in ecotourism management and used them to raise awareness about the local extinction of the parading shrimp in that ecotourist destination.