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A systematic survey of the integration of animal behavior into conservation

December 10, 2015

The role of behavioral ecology in improving wildlife conservation and management has been the subject of much recent debate. We aim to answer two foundational questions about the current use of behavioral knowledge in conservation: 1. To what extent is behavioral knowledge used in wildlife conservation and management? 2. How does the use of behavior differ among conservation fields in both frequency and types of use? To answer these questions, we searched the literature for intersections between key fields of animal behavior and conservation biology and created a systematic ‘heat’ map to visualize relative efforts. Our analysis challenges previous suggestions that there is little association between the fields of behavioral ecology and conservation and reveals tremendous variation in the use of different behaviors in conservation. For instance, some behaviors, such as foraging and dispersal, are commonly considered, but other behaviors such as learning, social or anti-predatory behaviors are hardly considered. Our analysis suggests that in many cases awareness of the importance of behavior does not translate into applicable management tools. We recommend that researchers should focus on developing research in underutilized intersections of behavior and conservation themes for which preliminary work show a potential for improving conservation and management, on translating behavioral theory into applicable and testable predictions, and on creating systematic reviews to summarize the behavioral evidence within the behavior-conservation intersections for which many studies exist.

Publication Year 2016
Title A systematic survey of the integration of animal behavior into conservation
DOI 10.1111/cobi.12654
Authors Oded Berger-Tal, Daniel T. Blumstein, Scott Carroll, Robert N. Fisher, Sarah L. Mesnick, Megan A. Owen, David Saltz, Colleen Cassady St. Claire, Ronald R. Swaisgood
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Index ID 70160054
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center