U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Exploiting common senses: Sensory ecology meets wildlife conservation and management

Laura K. Elmer, Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science
Christine L. Madliger, Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science
Daniel T. Blumstein, University of California, Los Angeles
Chris K. Elvidge, Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Science
Esteban Fernández-Juricic, College of Science
Andrij Z. Horodysky, Hampton University

Document Type Article


Multidisciplinary approaches to conservation and wildlife management are often effective in addressing complex, multi-factor problems. Emerging fields such as conservation physiology and conservation behaviour can provide innovative solutions and management strategies for target species and systems. Sensory ecology combines the study of 'how animals acquire' and process sensory stimuli from their environments, and the ecological and evolutionary significance of 'how animals respond' to this information. We review the benefits that sensory ecology can bring to wildlife conservation and management by discussing case studies across major taxa and sensory modalities. Conservation practices informed by a sensory ecology approach include the amelioration of sensory traps, control of invasive species, reduction of human-wildlife conflicts and relocation and establishment of new populations of endangered species. We illustrate that sensory ecology can facilitate the understanding of mechanistic ecological and physiological explanations underlying particular conservation issues and also can help develop innovative solutions to ameliorate conservation problems.