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Effect of Monitoring Technique on Quality of Conservation Science

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Abstract

Monitoring free‐ranging animals in their natural habitat is a keystone of ecosystem conservation and increasingly important in the context of current rates of loss of biological diversity. Data collected from individuals of endangered species inform conservation policies. Conservation professionals assume that these data are reliable—that the animals from whom data are collected are representative of the species in their physiology, ecology, and behavior and of the populations from which they are drawn. In the last few decades, there has been an enthusiastic adoption of invasive techniques for gathering ecological and conservation data. Although these can provide impressive quantities of data, and apparent insights into animal ranges and distributions, there is increasing evidence that these techniques can result in animal welfare problems, through the wide‐ranging physiological effects of acute and chronic stress and through direct or indirect injuries or compromised movement. Much less commonly, however, do conservation scientists consider the issue of how these effects may alter the behavior of individuals to the extent that the data they collect could be unreliable. The emerging literature on the immediate and longer‐term effects of capture and handling indicate it can no longer be assumed that a wild animal's survival of the process implies the safety of the procedure, that the procedure is ethical, or the scientific validity of the resulting data. I argue that conservation professionals should routinely assess study populations for negative effects of their monitoring techniques and adopt noninvasive approaches for best outcomes not only for the animals, but also for conservation science.

Efecto de la Técnica de Monitoreo en la Calidad de la Ciencia de la Conservación
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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