Magazine article Endangered Species Update

Integrating Animal Behavior and Conservation Biology-A Review

Magazine article Endangered Species Update

Integrating Animal Behavior and Conservation Biology-A Review

Article excerpt


Recent book and journal publications indicate a new movement toward integrating animal behavior and conservation biology. The integration is slow, however, due to cultural and scientific roadblocks. Differences in scale, themes, and approaches have hindered progress, but with the development of the right "currencies" that allow us to transfer studies across disciplines, behavior and conservation can be mutually beneficial. I have compiled a list of the major themes (with examples) in integrating animal behavior and conservation, organized explicitly by conservation goals. Conservation biologists should be using all available tools to prevent species loss, and behavioral ecologists should care deeply about preserving the wild behaviors in natural habitats that they study.


Libros y publicaciones cientificas recientes indican un movimiento hacia la integracion de la etologia y la biologia de la conservacion. Esta integracion, sin embargo, ha sido lenta debido a obstaculos culturales y cientificos. Diferencias en escala, tematica, y metodos han dificultado el avance, sin embargo, con el desarrollo de "puntos en comun" apropiados que permitan transferir resultados cientificos de una forma interdisciplinaria, la etologia y la biologia pueden beneficiarse mutuamente. En este estudio, he compilado una lista de los temas mas importantes (con ejemplos) en la integracion de la etologia y la conservacion. Los temas y ejemplos han sido organizados segun objetivos de conservacion. Los biologos de la conservacion deben usar todos los instrumentos disponibles para impedir la perdida de especies, y los etologos deben preocuparse sobre la preservacion en estado silvestre del comportamiento de las especies que estudian en sus habitates naturales.


As the threat of worldwide biodiversity loss becomes more apparent, researchers from a growing number of fields have taken a keen interest in conservation biology. Recently, ethologists have applied the study of animal behavior to an increasing number of problems relating to conserving rare, declining, and threatened animal species.

A new movement toward integrating these two disciplines is indicated by the recent publication of four books (Animal Behavior and Wildlife Conservation 2003; Behaviour and Conservation 2000; Behavioral Ecology and Conservation Biology 1998; and Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild 1997) and several journal articles (e.g. Reed and Dobson 1993; Ulfstrand 1996; Sutherland 1998; Martin 1998; Caro 1999) that discuss the value and role of combining behavioral ecology with wildlife conservation and management. Students are increasingly interested in conservation, and agencies have been more willing than ever to support applied conservation research.

The integration, however, is only beginning. (1) Behavioral ecology, or ethology, is currently "not considered a significant component of conservation biology" (Clemmons and Buchholz 1997a). Although many conservation projects involve animal behavior in a trivial way, such as passing references to food preferences or home range, most do not use the full body of theory available (Sutherland and Gosling 2000). This chasm is shown clearly in the historic separation between animal behavior and wildlife biology and conservation in academia. Many college wildlife management programs offer no courses in animal behavior or evolutionary ecology and vice versa. Most behavioral ecology textbooks contain no, or only perfunctory, discussion of conservation; similarly, conservation biology textbooks barely mention behavior as a component discipline. For example, the two main texts used in university conservation biology classes (Primack 1993; Meffe and Carroll 1997) make no mention of behavior in the index. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology by J.R. Krebs and N.B. Davies (1993) (2) has no reference to conservation or endangered species in the index. …

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