• A systematic survey of the integration of animal behavior into conservation

      Berger-Tal, Oded; Blumstein, Daniel T.; Carroll, Scott; Fisher, Robert N.; Mesnick, Sarah L.; Owen, Megan A.; Saltz, David; St. Clair, Colleen Cassady; Swaisgood, Ronald R. (2016)
      The role of behavioral ecology in improving wildlife conservation and management has been the subject of much recent debate. We sought to answer 2 foundational questions about the current use of behavioral knowledge in conservation: To what extent is behavioral knowledge used in wildlife conservation and management, and how does the use of animal behavior differ among conservation fields in both frequency and types of use? We searched the literature for intersections between key fields of animal behavior and conservation and created a systematic heat map (i.e., graphical representation of data where values are represented as colors) to visualize relative efforts. Some behaviors, such as dispersal and foraging, were commonly considered (mean [SE] of 1147.38 [353.11] and 439.44 [108.85] papers per cell, respectively). In contrast, other behaviors, such as learning, social, and antipredatory behaviors were rarely considered (mean [SE] of 33.88 [7.62], 44.81 [10.65], and 22.69 [6.37] papers per cell, respectively). In many cases, awareness of the importance of behavior did not translate into applicable management tools. Our results challenge previous suggestions that there is little association between the fields of behavioral ecology and conservation and reveals tremendous variation in the use of different behaviors in conservation. We recommend that researchers focus on examining underutilized intersections of behavior and conservation themes for which preliminary work shows a potential for improving conservation and management, translating behavioral theory into applicable and testable predictions, and creating systematic reviews to summarize the behavioral evidence within the behavior-conservation intersections for which many studies exist.
    • Everybody loses: intraspecific competition induces tragedy of the commons in Allenby's gerbils

      Berger-Tal, Oded; Embar, Keren; Kotler, Burt P.; Saltz, David (2015)
      Interference competition may lead to a tragedy of the commons in which individuals driven by self‐interest reduce the fitness of the entire group. We investigated this hypothesis in Allenby's gerbils, Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi , by comparing foraging behaviors of single vs. pairs of gerbils....
    • Past experiences and future expectations generate context-dependent costs of foraging

      Berger-Tal, Oded; Embar, Keren; Kotler, Burt P.; Saltz, David (2014)
      We released Allenby’s gerbils (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi) into an enclosure containing rich patches with equal amounts of food and manipulated the quality of the environment over time by reducing the amount of food in most (but not all) food patches and then increasing it again…. Specifically, in the second rich period, the gerbils spent more time foraging and harvested more food from the patches. Thus, seemingly identical environments can be treated as strikingly different by foragers as a function of their past experiences and future expectations.
    • Research priorities from animal behaviour for maximising conservation progress

      Greggor, Alison L.; Berger-Tal, Oded; Blumstein, Daniel T.; Angeloni, Lisa; Bessa-Gomes, Carmen; Blackwell, Bradley F.; St. Clair, Colleen Cassady; Crooks, Kevin; de Silva, Shermin; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban; et al. (2016)
      Poor communication between academic researchers and wildlife managers limits conservation progress and innovation. As a result, input from overlapping fields, such as animal behaviour, is underused in conservation management despite its demonstrated utility as a conservation tool and countless papers advocating its use. Communication and collaboration across these two disciplines are unlikely to improve without clearly identified management needs and demonstrable impacts of behavioural-based conservation management. To facilitate this process, a team of wildlife managers and animal behaviour researchers conducted a research prioritisation exercise, identifying 50 key questions that have great potential to resolve critical conservation and management problems. The resulting agenda highlights the diversity and extent of advances that both fields could achieve through collaboration.
    • The exploration-exploitation dilemma: A Multidisciplinary framework

      Berger-Tal, Oded; Nathan, Jonathan; Meron, Ehud; Saltz, David (2014)
      The trade-off between the need to obtain new knowledge and the need to use that knowledge to improve performance is one of the most basic trade-offs in nature, and optimal performance usually requires some balance between exploratory and exploitative behaviors. Researchers in many disciplines have been searching for the optimal solution to this dilemma. Here we present a novel model in which the exploration strategy itself is dynamic and varies with time in order to optimize a definite goal, such as the acquisition of energy, money, or prestige. Our model produced four very distinct phases: Knowledge establishment, Knowledge accumulation, Knowledge maintenance, and Knowledge exploitation, giving rise to a multidisciplinary framework that applies equally to humans, animals, and organizations. The framework can be used to explain a multitude of phenomena in various disciplines, such as the movement of animals in novel landscapes, the most efficient resource allocation for a start-up company, or the effects of old age on knowledge acquisition in humans.
    • Using the movement patterns of reintroduced animals to improve reintroduction success

      Berger-Tal, Oded; Saltz, David (2014)
      Despite their importance to conservation, reintroductions are still a risky endeavor and tend to fail, highlighting the need for more efficient post-release monitoring techniques…. We demonstrate our conceptual approach using data from two ungulate species reintroduced in Israel: the Persian fallow deer Dama mesopotamica and the Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx