Translating cognitive insights into effective conservation programs: Reply to Schakner et al

Alison L. Greggor, Nicola S. Clayton, Ben Phalan, Alex Thornton
2014 Trends in Ecology & Evolution  
6 Our Opinion Piece [1] aimed to promote conversation about cognition in 7 behaviourally-based conservation solutions, and to spark further research into the field. We 8 welcome Schakner et al.'s comments as part of this dialogue. 9 Their response mainly critiqued our decision to emphasize 'why' cognition is 10 important in animal conservation, asserting that we do not explore 'how' it should be applied 11 in sufficient detail. We agree with Schakner et al. that our paper is not a comprehensive
more » ... 12 instruction manual for all animal conservation problems. However, we offer broad guidelines 13 to highlight the cognitive processes that need be considered for different classes of problems, 14 and provide examples where cognition has been successfully applied. We chose this focus for 15 two reasons. Firstly, our goal was to make comparative cognition accessible to a wide 16 audience; therefore explaining the 'why' was crucial for those unfamiliar with cognitive 17 mechanisms. Without laying a general foundation of cognitive theory, examples where 18 cognition is effectively applied would seem like isolated cases of insight rather than 19 applications of a widely studied discipline. 20 Secondly, it would be unfeasible to offer readers a detailed solution to every 21 conceivable conservation problem in the space of one manuscript. The behavioural 22 manipulations that conservationists and wildlife managers seek span widely different 23 contexts. We agree that tailored solutions are most likely to be successful and wholeheartedly 24 support Shakner et al's calls for further research into the conservation applications of 25 cognitive theory. However, until a greater number of species-specific guidelines are 26 developed-such as the step-by-step reinforcement schedules that Schakner et al. mention-27 the fundamentals of perception and learning can still help guide efforts to alter animal 28 behaviour. As more detailed, empirically-tested guidelines are developed, it is critical that 29 these be consolidated and made widely available in a format such as a freely accessible 30 online database that allows researchers and managers to search for solutions based on their 31
doi:10.1016/j.tree.2014.09.009 pmid:25304444 fatcat:4aubdto6ondivco6ptnwgfprt4