CFR 590 D: Uses of Animal Behavior in Conservation


Credits: 2

Quarter: Spring 2012

Time: Tuesdays, 2-4 pm

Location: Anderson 306

Course website:

Course listserve:





Aaron Wirsing (AW), School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (, 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%). 



Academic integrity

Plagiarism, cheating, and other misconduct are serious violations of your contract as a student. We expect that you will know and follow the University's policies on cheating and plagiarism. Any suspected cases of academic misconduct will be handled according to University regulations. More information, including definitions and examples, can be found at: <>

Disability accommodations

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so we can discuss the accommodations needed for this class.


This course is offered in accordance with UW College of the Environment ( privacy ( and terms ( policies.





Discussion Schedule






Organizational meeting (topics assigned)



Introduction (AW)



Improving population viability models

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


Understanding disease and parasite transmission in animal populations

Alexander and McNutt (2010), Connors et al. (2011)


Improving reintroduction / translocation success

Shier (2006), Zidon et al. (2009)


Guiding predator recovery

Berger (2007), Pyare and Berger (2003)


Managing for the effects of exotic predators

Sih et al. (2010), Kovacs et al. (2012)


Quantifying human impacts on wildlife

Banks and Bryant (2007), Lusseau et al. (2009)


Managing impacts of animal harvest

Whitman et al. (2004), Gobush and Wasser (2009)


Preserving animal “cultures”

Laiolo et al. (2008), Whitehead (2010)


Predicting the impacts of global change on animals

Telemeco et al. (2009), Clavel et al. (2011)