• Effectiveness of animal conditioning interventions in reducing human–wildlife conflict: a systematic map protocol

      Snijders, Lysanne; Greggor, Alison L.; Hilderink, Femke; Doran, Carolina (2019)
      Human–wildlife conflict (HWC), is currently one of the most pressing conservation challenges. We restrict ourselves here to wildlife behaviour that is perceived to negatively impact social, economic or cultural aspects of human life or to negatively impact species of conservation concern. HWC often involves wild animals consuming anthropogenic resources, such as crops or livestock, either out of necessity (loss of habitat and natural prey) or as consequence of opportunistic behaviour. A variety of interventions are undertaken to reduce HWC, differing in practicability, costs and social acceptance. One such non-lethal intervention is animal conditioning, a technique to reduce conflict by modifying the behaviour of ‘problem’ animals long-term. Conditioning changes associations animals have with resources or behaviours. Both via ‘punishment’ of unwanted behaviour and ‘rewarding’ of alternative behaviour, researchers aim to make expression of unwanted behaviour relatively less desirable to animals. Despite the potential, however, studies testing conditioning interventions have reported seemingly contradictory outcomes. To facilitate reduction of HWC via conditioning, we thus need to better understand if and when conditioning interventions are indeed effective. With this systematic map we intend to make the global evidence base for conditioning of free-ranging vertebrates more accessible to practitioners, to identify potential evidence clusters and effect modifiers for a subsequent systematic review and to highlight evidence gaps for future research.
    • Examining the efficacy of anti-predator training for increasing survival in conservation translocations: a systematic review protocol

      Greggor, Alison L.; Price, Catherine J.; Shier, Debra M. (2019)
      Background How animals respond to predators can have consequences when they are reintroduced into the wild or translocated to new habitats. Animals raised in captivity often lack adequate experience with predators, and wild animals can be ill-equipped to respond to invasive predators. When these animals are released or translocated for conservation purposes, their naivety can jeopardize their survival and the outcome of the conservation intervention. Anti-predator training, i.e. the purposeful exposure of animals to predators or predatory-like cues for promoting predatory learning and awareness, is often suggested to be a useful tool in combating prey naivety. However, the prevalence of such training and the evidence for its effectiveness in conservation settings are currently unknown. We detail a set of protocols aimed at resolving both of these unknowns. Methods We will aim to gather studies from multiple databases and grey literature sources which document the occurrence of anti-predator training. We will search beyond the conservation management literature to also cover interventions aimed at promoting anti-predator behaviour in commercial contexts and other academic fields (e.g. animal cognition, behavioral ecology). Studies will be screened in two phases. The first stage of screening will collect studies that conduct anti-predator training. Metadata from this stage will help highlight biases in the use of anti-predator training across geographic locations, funding contexts and taxonomic groups. We will then further screen for research that measures training efficacy either by using learning assessments, designating experimental groups, or by collecting post-release survival data. A narrative synthesis at this stage will describe the relative proportion of studies that measure the efficacy of their training. The smaller research pool will then be systematically reviewed to assess the efficacy of anti-predator training. We will attempt to extract data from all studies which assess efficacy, judging study validity and conducting a meta-analysis if sufficient evidence is found. By creating two stages to our screening and review of evidence, we will be able to better judge the biases and reliability of the efficacy evidence we find.
    • Using animal behavior in conservation management: a series of systematic reviews and maps

      Greggor, Alison L.; Blumstein, Daniel T.; Wong, Bob B. M.; Berger-Tal, Oded (2019)
      In the past few decades there has been a growing understanding of the role animal behavior research can play in improving the effectiveness and success of conservation management programs. Animal behavior can help us understand and predict the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on wildlife populations, can be used as a tool in conservation interventions, and can serve as a powerful indicator of conservation problems [1]. Overall, the emergent field of conservation behavior (applying animal behavior research to conservation and management) has already contributed to many successful conservation outcomes—from devising individual-specific diets to manage sex ratios in the critically endangered Kakapo [2], to promoting life skills that enhance survival after reintroduction of species into the wild [3,4,5,6]. Nevertheless, there is tremendous room for improvement. For example, olfactory deterrents can fail because they do not adequately recognize or manipulate context in the meaning of animal signals [7]. Meanwhile, traps designed in the laboratory to attract and control invasive species can prove ineffective under field conditions [8]. In many such cases, we simply do not understand the underlying causes of failures, which prevent us from offering sound and cost-effective guidance on conservation management. These failures and a common disregard for behavior in conservation settings have led to the valid criticism that the field lacks impact. We argue that the relevance of the field hinges on us being able to openly admit, distinguish, and understand where and why applying a behavioral approach succeeds and fails in improving conservation or management outcomes.
    • What evidence exists on the effectiveness of different types of olfactory lures as attractants for invasive mammalian predators? A systematic map protocol

      Price, Catherine J.; Banks, Peter B.; Greggor, Alison L. (2019)
      Alien mammalian predators are a major cause of species extinction and decline globally. Baits and lures, usually human-food based (for example meat, nuts or oils), are widely deployed in trapping programs to attract target species, but their effectiveness compared to other types of olfactory lures, for example social odours or prey odours, has never been systematically examined. Depending on the context, there can be high proportions of non-target captures, for example when targeting feral cats using cage traps, or low capture success, for example, when targeting introduced rats on tropical islands. Here we use a systematic process to map evidence on the effectiveness of different categories of olfactory attractants for invasive mammalian predators within different ecological contexts. We aim to look for where evidence clusters and knowledge gaps occur, for example, across different lure types or across different habitat-types, and highlight opportunities for future research into behaviourally-relevant olfactory lures.