In this series of interviews, we talked to authors and editors of books about how publishing open access (OA) has extended their impact and reach, something that is especially important to topics supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sex in Cetaceans is a compendium of what is known about mating and reproduction of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), including new data, vital for species survival and informed conservation management.
Our open access book is a compendium of what is known about sex in cetaceans - the approximately 90 living species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, with some chapters exploring extinct species. Our book begins with broad topics about sex in cetaceans such as anatomy, techniques, variation between populations, and the functions of sex, then reviews what is known about sex in various species and includes new data. The book contents extend beyond sexual tactics and strategies to include calf rearing and other aspects of reproductive survival. The chapters are integrative and illustrate that there is more known about the subject than previously thought, with many directions identified for future research.
Our book is related to the SDGs: life below water, climate action, gender equality, quality education, and partnerships for the goals.
Cetaceans are often elusive and hard to research because they spend most of their lives beneath the surface of the water and away from shore. As a result, little is known about their mating and reproduction, although both are quintessential to species survival. Our book compiles what is known about sex in cetaceans, includes new data, and provides important insights needed for informed conservation management- both of the animals and the often human-beleaguered ecosystems in which they live.
Several chapters specifically address how human disturbances including climate change have dramatic impacts on cetacean reproduction. Our book also provides much insight into sex from the female perspective; historically, studies of sex have been biased to focus on male mating strategies and tactics. We redress this gender bias in our book and also intentionally solicited submissions from female authors - particularly students and young professionals to help establish their careers in the discipline.
The idea to have the book open access was suggested by one of the contributing authors, and we are grateful for the suggestion that has enabled us to increase the reach and impact of the important findings reported therein. While we hope our book will be of great value to academics with access to publications through their university libraries, we also want our book to be accessible to a general audience interested in cetaceans, mating, and reproduction. Our hope is to enlighten and inspire our readers, and this can be facilitated by providing access without cost prohibitive barriers to education.
We are grateful to our two institutions - Texas A&M at Galveston and Texas A&M - Corpus Christi - for appreciating the importance of open access publications and financially supporting the endeavor by generously paying the open access fee.
There is excitement from us and our contributing authors (of which there are over 80!) that our chapters will have a high readership because the content is freely available. By eliminating the financial constraints of publishing from our contributing authors, we were able to solicit the best possible book on the topic of sex in cetaceans, and provide a comprehensive review that will benefit cetacean enthusiasts and researchers.
Do it! Help provide equity in education by eliminating the paywall barriers. Our advice is to reach out to your institutions for financial support early, as many libraries recognize the value of open access publications and can apply for grants with sufficient advance notice.
One of us editors has published with Springer Nature before and found our long-term publishing editor to be prompt and intelligently responsive to queries and concerns, with a high level of professionalism and ease to work with. Springer Nature is part of one of the largest science publishers; as most academic libraries have access to their books and contents, this helps professionals and students from every continent.
Bernd Würsig studies behavior and social strategies in marine mammals, with a specialty in toothed whale (odontocete) societies. He has published >200 peer review papers, book chapters, and books. He is perhaps best known for his books on Hawaiian spinner dolphins, marine mammals of the Gulf of Mexico, dusky dolphins, Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (eds. 1-3, from 2000 to 2018), a Springer Nature book on ethology and behavioral ecology of odontocetes (2019), and a recent Springer Nature book (with Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara) on human influences on marine mammals in this strong Anthropocene Epoch (2022). He is Regents and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University Galveston.
Dara N. Orbach explores evolutionary biology with a focus on the co-evolution of anatomy and behavior, reproductive morphology, sexual selection, and behavioral ecology. While mostly focused on marine mammals, she is a comparative biologist with research experience in other systems including birds, bats, and fish. She has published more than 35 peer review papers and book chapters, including a chapter on “Sexual Strategies: Male and Female Mating Tactics” for a 2019 Springer Nature book on odontocetes. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi.