CFR 590 D: Uses of Animal Behavior in Conservation


Credits: 2

Quarter: Spring 2011

Time: Thursdays, 8-10 am

Location: Winkenwerder (WFS) 105

Course website:

Course listserve:





Aaron Wirsing, Winkenwerder 101, (206) 543-1585,





Studies of animal behavior have great potential to contribute to biological conservation, but this potential is underappreciated.  Accordingly, my goal for this course is to expose you to papers from the primary literature that illustrate the diversity of ways in which an understanding of animal behavior has helped, or could help, to solve conservation problems.



Course Structure and Requirements


We will meet weekly for a 2-hour discussion.  During each meeting, one student will play the role of discussion leader; the discussion topics are listed below.





Discussion Leader: I will expect you to keep us engaged, return the discourse to the topic at hand following digressions, and keep the discussion moving should it lag.  Please begin with an introductory PowerPoint presentation that (i) provides the proper background and context for the discussion topic (e.g., what are the key theoretical principles being invoked?), (ii) defines important terms, and (iii) thoroughly yet concisely summarizes the papers being discussed.  Shoot for a 30-minute presentation, allowing for ~ 90 minutes of discussion.  Please have several discussion questions at the ready, and I encourage you to come up with creative ways to foster class involvement.


Discussion Participants:  I will expect you to have read and critically thought about the week’s paper or papers before coming to class.  Please arrive with questions, observations, and insights for discussion.



Your final grade will be determined by the extent of your course participation (i.e., contribution to weekly discussions, 50%) and the quality of your performance as discussion leader (50%). 



Lecture Schedule




Lecture Topic



Organizational meeting (topics assigned)



Introduction (AW)



Improving population viability models

Somers et al. (2008), Gerber et al. (2010)


Understanding disease transmission in animal populations

Johnson et al. (2009)


Improving reintroduction / translocation success

Shier (2006), Griffin et al. (2000)


Guiding predator recovery

Berger (2007), Pyare and Berger (2003)


Predicting consequences of predator loss, recovery

Berger and Gese (2007), Berger et al. (2008)


Quantifying human impacts on wildlife

Bejder et al. (2009), Pickens and Root (2009)


Managing impacts of animal harvest

Goss-Custard et al. (2004), MacNulty et al. (2009)


Preserving animal “cultures”

Whitehead et al. (2004)