Jay Cooney

Without an understanding of the intricacies of animal behavior, we will be unable to combat the modern biodiversity crisis. Although humankind typically thinks of other species as mere resources in the background of human progress, fading from concern most of the time, each encounter with a nonhuman animal is a glimpse at a moment in the life of a unique individual. Far too many conservation decisions that heavily influence the fates of nonhuman animals are made on the basis of incomplete or dubious evidence, rather than attempting to understand their experiences without bias towards human interests. Conservation success stories demonstrate the need for a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of animal behavior; for instance, researchers were able to restore puffins only after finding that they would not establish colonies on new islands without other individuals already present, leading to their placing puffin models and recorded calls. Human behavior is subject to the same evolutionary forces that shape nonhuman animal behavior, and it is equally crucial for conservation to understand ourselves. Knowledge of how our species has come to adopt short-sighted aspirations for dominion over the biosphere may end the previous trend of our assigning monetary value to the existence of other animals, and move our species towards an enlightened future of conservation for the sake of a beautifully biodiverse planet itself. 

 

 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.