Toward a synthesis of conservation and animal welfare science

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Abstract:

Conservation biology and animal welfare science are multidisciplinary fields of research that address social concerns about animals. Conservation biology focuses on wild animals, works at the level of populations, ecological systems and genetic types, and deals with threats to biodiversity and ecological integrity. Animal welfare science typically focuses on captive (often domestic) animals, works at the level of individuals and groups, and deals with threats to the animals' health and quality of life. However, there are many areas of existing or potential overlap: (i) many real-life problems, such as environmental contamination, urban development and transportation, create problems for animals that involve both welfare and conservation; (ii) research methods from each field are needed to address some of the scientific problems of the other; and (iii) policies and practices targeting either conservation or animal welfare may prove unproductive if they do not take account of both areas of concern. Moreover, scientists in both fields face the common challenge of applying science to guide policy and practice, often to issues that are both empirical and ethical, and often under conditions of uncertainty. There are many cases where communication and co-operation between the fields should lead to better science and better practical outcomes.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; ANIMAL WELFARE SCIENCE; CONSERVATION; CONSERVATION BIOLOGY; INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE; POLICY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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