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Animal Behavior and Wildlife Conservation

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Abstract

Efforts to conserve wildlife populations and preserve biological diversity are often hampered by an inadequate understanding of animal behavior. How do animals react to gaps in forested lands, or to sport hunters? Do individual differences—in age, sex, size, past experience—affect how an animal reacts to a given situation? Differences in individual behavior may determine the success or failure of a conservation initiative, yet they are rarely considered when strategies and policies are developed. Animal Behavior and Wildlife Conservation explores how knowledge of animal behavior may help increase the effectiveness of conservation programs. The book brings together conservation biologists, wildlife managers, and academics from around the world to examine the importance of general principles, the role played by specific characteristics of different species, and the importance of considering the behavior of individuals and the strategies they adopt to maximize fitness.Each chapter begins by looking at the theoretical foundations of a topic, and follows with an exploration of its practical implications. A concluding chapter considers possible future contributions of research in animal behavior to wildlife conservation.
Spring - Summer 2003
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... Studies on feeding behavior are necessary to enable estimates of the coexistence of wild animals in a particular ecosystem (Gutbrodt, 2006). The behavior of individuals and the strategies they adopt to maximize fitness plays an important role when a species' natural behavior can lead to conservation problems in habitats altered by humans (Festa-Bianchet & Marco, 2003). Information on nutritional composition of herbivores is vital for better understanding of resource requirements and offers intuition into herbivore influences on an ecosystem as well as animal populations (Parker & Bernard, 2006;Tanentzap et al., 2009). ...
Article
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... Background Conservation biologists have long recognized the importance of establishing protected areas to facilitate population persistence of wildlife in landscapes that are threatened by increasing human encroachment, habitat fragmentation, and habitat loss [1][2][3][4]. However, efforts to conserve wildlife and preserve biodiversity often are based on an incomplete understanding of animal movement as well as variability in movement patterns among groups or populations that the areas are meant to protect [5]. While a number of studies have demonstrated the relevance of incorporating movement, particularly animal foraging and home range size, into protected area design [6][7][8][9], integration between the disciplines of conservation biology and movement (coined "conservation behavior") is limited [10,11]. ...
Article
Full-text available
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... Animal behavior, or how animals interact with their biotic and abiotic surroundings, is an important component of successful wildlife management (Anthony & Blumstein, 2000;Burt, 1943;Gaynor et al., 2020;Sutherland, 1998;Tobias & Pigot, 2019). Behavior can determine habitat use, food acquisition, mate selection, and movement, all of which influence individual survival and reproductive success (Festa-Bianchet & Apollonio, 2003). While wildlife managers have long recognized the importance of behavior within conservation designs (Burt, 1943), behavioral training of animals (Box 2) has more recently emerged as a way to directly manipulate behavioral traits (Berger-Tal et al., 2016;Edwards et al., 2021;Griffin et al., 2000;Rowell et al., 2020). ...
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The growing field of conservation and wild animal ethics has the potential to guide practitioners facing difficult management decisions. Drawing from previously established rights frameworks, we explore an applied ethic for wildlife managers and conservationists, outlining when there can be ethical justification and moral obligation to intervene with wildlife. To demonstrate the use of this ethical framework, we apply it specifically to the emerging field of behavioral training in wildlife management. We use a series of case studies to illuminate how ecological context is fundamental to ascertain when there is ethical justification for behavioral training under the framework, and conclude with practical considerations for implementation. Our work explains how a rights‐based ethic emerges from both biological principles and fundamental philosophical concepts, and illustrates how it could serve as a useful guideline for wildlife management.
... Numerous studies have demonstrated the inextricable link between animal behavior and conservation biology and that animal behavior can be applied successfully in the conservation of biodiversity (Berger-Tal et al. 2011). Understanding animal behavior is particularly important for species that are endangered and in urgent need of targeted conservation actions (Festa-Bianchet and Apollonio 2003). ...
... However, limited information exists on how carnivore populations respond to harvest or the effects of intense harvest on dispersal and social group dynamics, despite the relative value of such information for management and in modelling or managing outbreaks of disease (Robinson et al. 2008, Grear et al. 2010 An understanding of life-history patterns, including dispersal and social structure is vital to understand the effects of management actions such as culling programs. It also has implications for models of disease transmission, and the need for consideration of social behaviors in conservation and management (Festa-Bianchet and Apollonio 2013). This study highlights the use of SNP genotyping to provide detailed information on the relationships between individuals, in this case allowing for detection of different patterns of gene flow at the population and individual kin levels. ...
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... Studies on feeding behavior are necessary to enable estimates of the coexistence of wild animals in a particular ecosystem (Gutbrodt, 2006). The behavior of individuals and the strategies they adopt to maximize fitness plays an important role when a species' natural behavior can lead to conservation problems in habitats altered by humans (Festa-Bianchet & Marco, 2003). Information on nutritional composition of herbivores is vital for better understanding of resource requirements and offers intuition into herbivore influences on an ecosystem as well as animal populations (Parker & Bernard, 2006;Tanentzap et al., 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous indices have been developed to compare use and availability of foods in field diets of wild ungulates. However, little attention has been given to laboratory analysis for comparing food preferences. To this end, a study aimed at investigating the diet composition and preference of Bohor reedbuck was conducted in the compound of Alage Agricultural College, Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia from 2017 to 2018 encompassing both dry and wet seasons. Bohor reedbuck is a medium sized horned antelope species endemic to Africa. Continuous focal animal observation was used to collect the data on plant species included in the diet of Bohor reedbuck. Focal individuals’ observation was carried out for 30 min in 10 min sampling interval during their active feeding period (early morning and late afternoon) over four different habitat types. The nutrient composition of plants consumed was determined using wet chemistry laboratory analysis. Bohor reedbucks consumed 15 species of plants; herbs comprised 94.3% of the foods they consumed. Digitaria abyssinica was the most preferred plant species with highest crude protein (23.75%) and less fiber (61.8% nitrogen detergent fiber and 27.8% acid detergent fiber). These findings suggest that food preference of Bohor reedbuck is determined by the nutritional content of the plant it consumed, since the area is more or less natural habitat in terms of plant species composition. For sustainable conservation of the species, there is a need to actively promote management of the plant species most preferred by the reedbuck to feed on.
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The artificial selection of traits in wildlife populations through hunting and fishing has been well documented. However, despite their rising popularity, the role that artificial selection may play in non‐extractive wildlife activities, for example, recreational feeding activities, remains unknown. If only a subset of a population takes advantage of human‐wildlife feeding interactions, and if this results in different fitness advantages for these individuals, then artificial selection may be at work. We have tested this hypothesis using a wild fallow deer population living at the edge of a capital city as our model population. In contrast to previous assumptions on the randomness of human‐wildlife feeding interactions, we found that a limited non‐random portion of an entire population is continuously engaging with people. We found that the willingness to beg for food from humans exists on a continuum of inter‐individual repeatable behaviour; which ranges from risk‐taking individuals repeatedly seeking and obtaining food, to shyer individuals avoiding human contact and not receiving food at all, despite all individuals having received equal exposure to human presence from birth and coexisting in the same herds together. Bolder individuals obtain significantly more food directly from humans, resulting in early interception of food offerings and preventing other individuals from obtaining supplemental feeding. Those females that beg consistently also produce significantly heavier fawns (300–500 g heavier), which may provide their offspring with a survival advantage. This indicates that these interactions result in disparity in diet and nutrition across the population, impacting associated physiology and reproduction, and may result in artificial selection of the begging behavioural trait. This is the first time that this consistent variation in behaviour and its potential link to artificial selection has been identified in a wildlife population and reveals new potential effects of human‐wildlife feeding interactions in other species across both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Human‐wildlife feeding interactions are increasingly popular, yet the role that they may play in the artificial selection of behavioural traits in wildlife populations remains unexplored. This work begins to unravel the complex dynamics and impacts of these interactions, opening up new dimensions for human‐wildlife studies.
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Background Wildlife conservation often focuses on establishing protected areas, however, these conservation zones are frequently developed without adequate knowledge of the movement patterns of the species they are designed to protect. Understanding movement and foraging patterns of species in dynamic and diverse habitats can allow managers to develop more effective conservation plans. Threatened lemurs in Madagascar are an example where management plans and protected areas are typically created to encompass large, remaining forests rather than the resource needs of the target species. Methods To gain an understanding of golden-crowned sifaka ( Propithecus tattersalli ) movement patterns, including space use and habitat selection, across their range of inhabited forest types, we combined behavior data with Dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models and Resource Selection Functions. We also examined the influence of abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors on home range size, movement rates, and foraging patterns. ResultsWe found that home range size and movement rates differed between seasons, with increased core area size and movement in the rainy season. Forest type also played a role in foraging behavior with lemur groups in humid forest avoiding roads in both seasons, groups in the dry deciduous forest avoiding road networks in the rainy season, and groups in the moderate evergreen forest displaying no selection or avoidance of road networks while foraging. Conclusion Our study illustrates the importance of studying primate groups across seasons as well as across forest types, as developing conservation plans as a single snapshot can give an inaccurate assessment of their natural behavior and resources needs. More specifically, by understanding how forest type influences golden-crowned sifaka movement and foraging behavior, we can make conservation management plans specific to the individual forest types they inhabit (humid, moderate evergreen, dry deciduous, littoral, etc.), rather than the region as a whole.
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