Examining the efficacy of anti-predator training for increasing survival in conservation translocations: a systematic review protocol
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AbstractBackground 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.
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