David W. Macdonald's research while affiliated with Wildlife Conservation Society and other places

Publications (119)

Article
The presence of large predators entails a range of costs and some benefits for the communities that live alongside them. The cost in terms of the value of livestock lost to predation is well known, but this represents only a part of the costs that people experience, as it does not account for non-market costs such as fear, avoidance behaviours and...
Article
Globally three quarters of large terrestrial mammalian predators are in decline and many populations are data deficient, including those of African leopards across much of their range. Here we assess the drivers of decline African leopard populations in 16 camera trap surveys covering a total area of 15,120 km², across a gradient of anthropogenic i...
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Aim The synergy between human land use and climate change is accelerating the global decline of biodiversity. In the fragile Himalayas, this trend has a strong ecological impact on wildlife communities, and a better understanding is needed to discern changes in the mechanisms. This study aims to understand the effects of land use and climate change...
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Hedgehogs’ wide distribution and breadth of habitat use means they are a good model taxon for investigating behavioural responses to winter conditions, such as low temperatures and resource availability. We investigated the over-winter behaviour of desert hedgehogs (Paraechinus aethiopicus) in Qatar by radio-tracking 20 individuals and monitoring t...
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In Southeast Asia, conservation of 'Vulnerable' clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) and 'Endangered' tigers (Panthera tigris) might depend on the management of their preferred prey because large felid populations are limited by the availability of suitable prey. However, the diet of clouded leopards has never been determined, so the preferred prey...
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The African savannah ecosystem is populated by nomadic pastoralists who herd livestock in the day and corral them at night in temporary enclosures, called bomas, to protect them. The number and distribution of bomas on the savan-nah is important from an ecological perspective and may have a significant impact on wildlife movement. However, no study...
Article
As landscape‐scale conservation models grow in prominence, assessments of how wildlife utilise multiple‐use landscapes are required to inform effective conservation and management planning. Such efforts should incorporate multi‐species perspectives to maximise value for conservation, and should account for scale to accurately capture species‐enviro...
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Large carnivores increasingly inhabit human-impacted landscapes, which exhibit heterogeneity in biotic resources, anthropogenic pressures, and management strategies. Understanding large carnivore habitat use in these modern systems is critical for their conservation, as is the evaluation of competing management approaches and the impacts of signifi...
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Maternal immune and/or metabolic conditions relating to stress or nutritional status can affect in utero development among offspring with subsequent implications for later-life responses to infections. We used free-ranging European badgers as a host-pathogen model to investigate how prenatal weather conditions affect later-life herpesvirus genital...
Article
Unsustainable global wildlife trade impacts biodiversity and threatens national and global security, but many aspects of this trade remain opaque. Our study is a novel investigation of the alleged links between the trade in wildlife products and in donkey skins. The global donkey skin trade is a newly prevalent and lucrative business, largely drive...
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The leopard cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis ) is the most common wild felid in Southeast Asia, yet little is known about the factors that affect their population density and occupancy in natural habitats. Although leopard cats are highly adaptable and reportedly can attain high densities in human-modified habitats, it is not clear which natural habi...
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Taxa belonging to the Genus Canis can challenge taxonomists because species boundaries and distribution ranges are often gradual. Species delineation within Canis is currently not based on consistent criteria, and is hampered by geographical bias and lack of taxonomic research. But a consistent taxonomy is critical, given its importance for assigni...
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The giant muntjac Muntiacus vuquangensis is a Critically Endangered ungulate that was first described by science in the early 1990s. The species’ current known distribution extends along the Annamite Mountains in Laos and Vietnam. Here, we report the first confirmed record of the giant muntjac in Cambodia. We recorded a camera-trap photograph of a...
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Investigations into the demographics of cryptic carnivores such as the near‐threatened brown hyaena Parahyaena brunnea have been improved by recent developments in camera trap technology and survey methods. Here, we assess the population density and abundance of this species on the Bubye Valley Conservancy (BVC) in south‐west Zimbabwe, a largely un...
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Quantifying abundance is often key to understanding ecological and evolutionary processes in wild populations. Despite shortcomings in producing accurate abundance estimates, minimum number alive (MNA) remains a widely used tool, due to its intuitive computation, reliable performance as an abundance indicator, and linkage to individual life-histori...
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1. Accurate and precise estimates of population status are required to inform and evaluate conservation management and policy interventions. Although the lion (Panthera leo) is a charismatic species receiving increased conservation attention, robust status estimates are lacking for most populations. While for many large carnivores population densit...
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In socially flexible species, the tendency to live in groups is expected to vary through a trade-off between costs and benefits, determined by ecological conditions. The Resource Dispersion Hypothesis predicts that group size changes in response to patterns in resource availability. An additional dimension is described in Hersteinsson's model posit...
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The global trade in wildlife affects ~24% of terrestrial vertebrates, and demand for traditional Chinese medicinal materials, is a high profile driver. Among key hopes for reducing the impacts of “TCM” on wildlife are strategies to redirect demand onto plant-origin alternative medicines. Studies demonstrate substantial support such alternatives amo...
Article
The use of plants and animals for traditional medicines is a high-profile driver of the global trade in wildlife (Baker et al. 2013). Among traditional medicines, the sourcing of wildlife-origin medicinal materials for Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”) gives rise to an international trade that can negatively impact upon a substantial diversity o...
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The savannas of the Kenya-Tanzania borderland cover >100,000 km 2 and is one of the most important regions globally for biodiversity conservation, particularly large mammals. The region also supports >1 million pastoralists and their livestock. In these systems, resources for both large mammals and pastoralists are highly variable in space and time...
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Abstract Attitudes, which can be thought of as the sum of individuals' thoughts, feelings, and beliefs concerning an attitude object, inform how people interact with the world around them. An understanding of attitudes may play an important role in promoting desirable human behavior, and attitudes studies should be incorporated into any behavior‐ch...
Article
Ornamental fish keeping is a popular hobby worldwide, supporting a significant global aquarium industry. Using export records of live snakeheads (Channa spp.) from India, we show a six-fold increase in the numbers of these (wild-sourced, freshwater) species exported worldwide between 2014 and 2019, driven by an increase in exports from West Bengal...
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Clostridium perfringens is an important food-borne zoonotic pathogen and a member of the commensal gut microbiome of many mammals. Predisposing factors such as coinfection with other pathogens or diet change can, however, cause overgrowth and subsequent disease development. Here we investigated the occurrence of C. perfringens in a free-ranging bad...
Article
Wildlife tourism has huge potential to benefit local human populations, and animal welfare and conservation objectives. A substantial proportion of wildlife tourism experiences, however, negatively impact on animals’ welfare and their species’ conservation status. An emerging goal of conservation research is to test conservation social marketing in...
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The co-occurrence of felid species in Southeast Asia provides an unusual opportunity to investigate guild structure and the factors controlling it. Using camera-trap data, we quantified the space use, temporal activity, and multi-dimensional niche overlap of the tiger, clouded leopard, Asiatic golden cat, marbled cat, and leopard cat in the Htamant...
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Coexistence, as a concept and as a management goal and practice, has attracted increasing attention from researchers, managers and decision-makers dedicated to understanding and improving human-wildlife interactions. Although it still lacks a universally agreed definition, coexistence has increasingly been associated with a broad spectrum of human-...
Article
The global trade in wildlife affects ~24% of terrestrial vertebrates, and demand for traditional medicinal materials, especially for traditional Chinese medicine, is a high profile driver. Much research has established a causal link between demand for medicinal materials for "TCM" and negative impacts on species conservation and on individual anima...
Article
The global trade in wildlife affects ~24% of terrestrial vertebrates, and demand for traditional medicinal materials, especially for traditional Chinese medicine, is a high profile driver. At present the relative extent to which demand for wild-animal-origin medicinal materials arises from different markets (OTCM, zhongyi and CMP, see companion pap...
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Conflict with humans and habitat fragmentation are major threats to large carnivores in Africa, and transboundary protected areas may ease some of the space requirements for individual countries. The W-Arly-Pendjari complex (WAP) in West Africa sits across Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger and is the last regional stronghold for many species, including...
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How the observed occurrences of a species relate to environmental gradients is a fundamental question in community ecology. In this paper, we present a new approach to address this question, using the smoothing function, a method not previously recruited into this ecological context. Using simulation techniques, we explore its accuracy in recoverin...
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Social influence impacts individuals’ behavior through norms – the perceived appropriateness of behaviors – and social referents, whose behavior is copied by others. Interventions using social influence may help promote conservation-friendly behaviors. We explored how perceptions are influenced by descriptive norms (what people do) and social refer...
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There is considerable interest in improving participatory governance in decision-making processes for the conservation of biodiversity and management of conflicts between humans and wildlife. Among the various modes of participatory governance, deliberative democracy has received virtually no attention for decisions focused on conserving biodiversi...
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Africa is home to some of the world’s most functionally diverse guilds of large carnivores. However, they are increasingly under threat from anthropogenic pressures that may exacerbate already intense intra-guild competition. Understanding the coexistence mechanisms employed by these species in human-impacted landscapes could help shed light on som...
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In a precautionary response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, China’s Ministries permanently banned eating and trading in terrestrial wild (non-livestock) animals on 24 February 2020, and extensively updated the list of Fauna under Special State Protection (LFSSP) in 2020 and 2021, in which pangolins (Manidae spp.) were upgraded to th...
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Artisanal small-scale gold mining (ASGM) poses threats to biodiversity and to the health and well-being of human communities. However, ASGM also economically supports several populations from lower social-economic backgrounds, especially in the Global South. In Madre de Dios (MDD), Peru, ASGM is the most significant economic activity, involving sev...
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Land transformation reduces biodiversity and regional sustainability, with land price being an indicator of the opportunity cost to a landowner of resisting land conversion. However, reliable spatially explicit databases of current land prices are generally lacking in developing countries. We used tools from data science to scrape 1,487 georeferenc...
Preprint
Allogrooming can relate to social status in mammalian societies, and thus, be used to infer social structure. This relationship has previously been investigated by examining an individual’s dominance rank and their total amount of allogrooming. This, however, does not account for the identity of allogrooming partners. We applied a novel approach, c...
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Throughout their range, jaguars (Panthera onca) are persecuted for killing livestock, posing a widespread and serious threat to their survival. Human-jaguar conflict occurs across a very large variety of geographic, agronomic and socio-economic contexts and across heterogeneous communities. We conducted seventeen case studies across seven countries...
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Environmental change often causes decreased food availability and/or increased foraging costs, putting wild animals at risk of starvation. Body-fat reserves can enable individuals to resist (buffer) periods of weather-driven food scarcity, improving their chances of survival and subsequent reproductive success. This capacity, however, is constraine...
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Shifting human–wildlife conflict towards coexistence requires a robust understanding of where conflict happens and why. Spatial models of livestock depredation by wild predators commonly identify depredation hotspots in areas where livestock are most abundant (e.g. nearer villages or pasture). This may reflect underlying livestock distribution, rat...
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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly important in wildlife data collection but concern over wildlife disturbance has led several countries to ban their use in National Parks. Disturbance is an animal welfare concern and impedes scientific data collection through provoking aberrant behaviour. Dealing with the issue of disturbance will en...
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The dispersal-syndrome hypothesis posits that fruit traits are a product of selection by frugivores. Although criticized as adaptationist, recent studies have suggested that traits such as fruit or seed size, colour and odour exhibit signatures that imply selection by animal mutualists. These traits imply nutritional rewards (e.g. lipid, carbohydra...
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Harmonious coexistence between humans, other animals and ecosystem services they support is a complex issue, typically impacted by landscape change, which affects animal distribution and abundance. In the last 30 years, afforestation on grasslands across Great Britain has been increasing, motivated by socio-economic reasons and climate change mitig...
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Early-life environmental conditions can provide a source of individual variation in life-history strategies and senescence patterns. Conditions experienced in early life can be quantified by measuring telomere length, which can act as a biomarker of survival probability in some species. Here, we investigate whether seasonal changes, weather conditi...
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Here we document 47,381 individuals from 38 species, including 31 protected species sold between May 2017 and November 2019 in Wuhan’s markets. We note that no pangolins (or bats) were traded, supporting reformed opinion that pangolins were not likely the spillover host at the source of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While we caution...
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The article Optimization of spatial scale, but not functional shape, affects the performance of habitat suitability models: a case study of tigers (Panthera tigris) in Thailand, written by Eric Ash, David W. Macdonald, Samuel A. Cushman, Adisorn Noochdumrong, Tim Redford and Zaneta Kaszta, was originally published online on 12 January 2021 with Ope...
Data
Fig. 1. Ensemble Spatial distribution model (SDM) of Muñoa’s pampas cat. A) General ensemble SDM showing medium (pink) and low (grey) suitability pixels outside this felid’s distribution range. B) Map showing the ensemble SDM exclusively inside Muñoa’s pampas cat geographic distribution and categorized by levels of suitability.
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Gammaherpesvirus reactivation can promote diseases or impair reproduction. Understanding reactivation patterns and associated risks of different stressors is therefore important. Nevertheless, outside the laboratory or captive environment, studies on the effects of stress on gammaherpesvirus reactivation in wild mammals are lacking. Here we used Mu...
Article
An important line of scholarship concludes that stemming the biodiversity crisis requires widespread nonanthropocentric modes of action and decision-making. In this regard, knowing what would even constitute a nonanthropocentric economic decision-making framework is hobbled by failing to recognize a conflation in the taxonomy of capital as supposed...
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In recent years lion bones have been legally traded internationally to Asian markets from captive-bred sources in South Africa. There are also indications of increasing instances of illegal international trade in wild lion bones. The existence of parallel captive and wild supplies of lion bone are a cause of law enforcement concern regarding the po...
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Determining the density trends of a guild of species can help illuminate their interactions, and the impacts that humans might have on them. We estimated the density trends from 2013 to 2017 of the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis and marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata in Nam Et—Phou Louey National Park (NEPL),...
Article
Selection-pressures differ with population density, but few studies investigate how this can affect reproductive physiology. European badger (Meles meles) density varies from solitary to group-living across their range, with reported mating periods throughout the entire year to specific seasonal periods. Badger reproduction is evolutionarily distin...
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The effectiveness of protected areas in maintaining biodiversity is increasingly under debate. Specifically, the responses of animal populations in freshwater ecosystems to disturbances outside protected areas are not well understood. Fish assemblages can serve as an indicator of such responses. We used dry season oxbow lake fish occurrence data im...
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Muñoa’s pampas cat (recently proposed to be a distinct species, Leopardus munoai) is a small felid that is endemic to the Uruguayan Savanna ecoregion (encompassing southern Brazil, north-eastern Argentina and Uruguay). Previous studies have suggested that it is threatened, but its conservation assessment has been hampered by the scarcity of data on...
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With large carnivores undergoing widespread range contractions across Africa, effective monitoring across mixed-use landscapes should be considered a priority to identify at-risk populations and prioritise conservation actions. We provide the first comparison of leopard population density within different components of a mixed-use landscape in Tanz...
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We tested the effects of 18 models of robotic lawn mowers in collision with dead European hedgehogs and quantified the results into six damage categories. All models were tested on four weight classes of hedgehogs, each placed in three different positions. None of the robotic lawn mowers tested was able to detect the presence of dependent juvenile...
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Wildlife commodification can generate benefits for biodiversity conservation, but it also has negative impacts; overexploitation of wildlife is currently one of the biggest drivers of vertebrate extinction risk. In the present article, we highlight 10 issues that in our experience impede sustainable and humane wildlife trade. Given humanity's incre...
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Exotic pet supply is a key, predominantly legal, component of global wildlife trade, but few studies have quantified its diversity or global reach. Here, using information extracted from the public (open) Facebook accounts of two wildlife exporters in Togo, West Africa, we identified at least 200 species, predominantly reptiles, but also mammals, b...
Article
Long-distance vocalization is a characteristic of African lion, Panthera leo, behaviour and is important for maintaining territorial boundaries as well as locating distant group members. Vocal signalling is, however, a flexible behaviour that involves varying costs and benefits depending on environmental, social and spatial factors. Motivated by pr...
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en For the first time in Togo, we used camera trapping to investigate the mammal community in Fazao‐Malfakassa National Park (FMNP), a forest and savannah mosaic landscape subject to poaching and other detrimental anthropogenic activity. We compiled a species inventory, that is species occurrence, habitat use and activity patterns during dry and we...
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Dry deciduous dipterocarp forests (DDF) cover about 15%–20% of Southeast Asia and are the most threatened forest type in the region. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) is a DDF specialist that occurs only in small isolated populations in Southeast Asia. Despite being one of the rarest felids in the region, almost nothing is known about its ecology. We in...
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Averting the biodiversity crisis requires closing a gap between how humans tend to behave, individually and collectively, and how we ought to behave—“ought to” in the sense of behaviors required to avert the biodiversity crisis. Closing that gap requires synthesizing insight from ethics with insights from social and behavioral sciences. This articl...
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Human‐wildlife conflict represents a substantial threat to rural livelihoods and species persistence. Directed harassment (i.e., hazing) is one method for mitigating conflict, though gauging its effectiveness is often complicated by a lack of replication, controls, or effective contrasts. Herein we assessed whether African lions (Panthera leo) shif...
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We wished to assess whether the COVID-19 pandemic, thought to have a zoonotic origin, may lead to a reduction in consumer demand for wildlife products. In 2018, we surveyed the effect of demand reduction messaging on consumers' desire to own exotic pets with 1,000 respondents in each of Brazil, China, the USA, and Vietnam. In July 2020, during the...
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Context Species habitat suitability models rarely incorporate multiple spatial scales or functional shapes of a species’ response to covariates. Optimizing models for these factors may produce more robust, reliable, and informative habitat suitability models, which can be beneficial for the conservation of rare and endangered species, such as tiger...
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Leopard print is a proliferating fashion design with perpetual, cross–market appeal. But as demand for textiles replicating the leopard’s pattern soar, leopards themselves have disappeared from more than 75% of the historic range. This study quantifies the fashion interest in leopard print to evaluate whether its popularity reflects an interest in...