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Open-source intelligence for conservation biology

August 18, 2022

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) evolved in spy agencies but now is rapidly changing many fields of study, from anthropology to zoology. Despite the fact that OSINT occasionally is used in conservation biology, there is little recognition that some tools and frameworks used by conservation professionals are drawn from this well-established field. The history and conceptual foundations of OSINT stem from the intelligence community, although OSINT tools are rapidly being applied in other fields. In conservation biology, OSINT is sometimes used to evaluate wildlife crime, human-wildlife and human-environment interactions, animal behavior, and questions of distribution and abundance. Recognizing the conceptual foundations of the field would allow expansion of conservation biology, not only in the areas noted above, but also, for example, in study of habitat use, habitat change, and animal behavior. This recognition would also provide frameworks for conceptual advancement, especially in terms of data and privacy management. Failure to recognize the underpinnings of OSINT tools in conservation biology harms the field because it limits how research is framed, thought about, and implemented. Likewise, taking an OSINT perspective to conservation problems, rather than simply thinking in terms of big data, can enrich the field, expand science, and increase knowledge and understanding of biology and biodiversity.

Publication Year 2022
Title Open-source intelligence for conservation biology
DOI 10.1111/cobi.13988
Authors Todd E. Katzner, Eve C. Thomason, Karrin Huhmann, Tara Conkling, Camille B. Concepcion, Vincent Slabe, Sharon Poessel
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Index ID 70236278
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center