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Editorial: Contributions of behavior and physiology to conservation biology

February 21, 2020

Conservation biology is a rapidly evolving discipline, with its synthetic, multidisciplinary framework expanding extensively in recent years. Seemingly disparate disciplines, such as behavior and physiology, are being integrated into this discipline's growing portfolio, resulting in diverse tools that can help develop conservation solutions. Behavior and physiology have traditionally been considered separate fields, yet their integration can provide a more comprehensive approach to developing solutions to conservation and management problems. However, demonstrations are needed of how behavior and physiology—either separately or combined—have contributed to conservation success. Examining species' vulnerabilities to extinction through the lenses of behavior and physiology can provide insight into the mechanisms that drive population declines and extirpations. Our goal is to increase awareness of the benefit of combining behavioral and physiological tools to improve conservation management decisions. Such studies can also help strengthen the basis for evidence-based conservation which, in some cases, has been previously lacking. The diverse studies in our Research Topic illustrate key examples of ways that behavior and physiology can be incorporated into conservation biology. Three main themes emerged from the invited papers with respect to their relevance to conservation: (1) Stress physiology, (2) indicators of health and disease dynamics, (3) and movement ecology. But these themes were also intertwined, thus showing the importance of integrating multiple fields of research to successfully address questions about conservation biology.

Two mini reviews discuss the importance of examining how stress physiology may affect individual fitness and capacity to cope with change which, ultimately, affects the resiliency of populations. Walls and Gabor, in their mini review, promoted combining studies of behavior and physiology to aid in developing conservation strategies for amphibians, which could provide conservation managers with workable solutions to global environmental change. Walls and Gabor also pointed out that studies of behavior are useful to understand how native amphibian species respond to invasive predators. This is supported by Roznik et al. who combined physiology and behavior for a more holistic understanding of the impacts of competition between native and invasive frogs. These authors found that invasive Cuban tree frogs outperformed two native species in jump length and speed, offsetting the costs of dehydration. This work also ties in well to a review by Joly, who indicated the importance of exploring movement ecology (on multiple spatial scales) of invasive species to provide insights for invasive species management. Walls and Gabor also emphasized that more studies on phenological shifts of species in response to recent climate change are needed, as explored by Bókony et al. with birds. These authors found that bird species varied their migratory behaviors in response to contemporary climate change which, in turn, influenced subsequent trends in population size.

Publication Year 2020
Title Editorial: Contributions of behavior and physiology to conservation biology
DOI 10.3389/fevo.2020.00033
Authors Caitlin R Gabor, Susan C. Walls
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70208920
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center