WCS 3-Sentence Science

Using Animal Behavior to Establish Protected Areas

September 6, 2019

CREDIT: JULIE LARSEN MAHER/WCS

Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by WCS’s Joel Berger examining how the work of behavioral ecologists can be critical to the establishment of protected areas.

  1. Protecting wild places is conservation’s most pressing task given rapid contemporary declines in biodiversity and massive land use changes.
  2. In this opinion piece, authors suggest that that the in-depth studies by behavioral ecologists on wildlife may have an important role in conservation by elevating species’ status from mundane to charismatic and often sparking public empathy; and in protected areas that sanction exploitation, it may also be important to understand individual animals’ behavioral and life-history responses to management decisions.
  3. More generally, behavioral ecologists will only be listened to, and their contributions considered of conservation importance, if they become more involved in decision-making processes as witnessed by several prominent examples that have supported the establishment of protected areas.

Study and Journal: “Can behavioural ecologists help establish protected areas?” from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
WCS Co-Author(s): Joel Berger, WCS North America Program

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.