Beyond ecological traps: perceptual errors and undervalued resources

Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 Jul;22(7):351-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.03.014. Epub 2007 Apr 9.


Ecological traps arise when animals choose to settle in poor-quality habitats, leading to a reduction in their survival or productivity. Although this phenomenon has received comprehensive theoretical treatment in the recent literature, the corollary of the ecological trap (when animals choose to avoid good-quality habitats) is rarely discussed. Failure to recognize high-quality sites could influence the ability of a population to reach its threshold size. An exploration of this phenomenon brings new insights into existing cases of ecological traps. By considering the full range of pitfalls faced during settlement, the relationship between habitat quality and population size might become clearer. We argue here that an improved understanding of factors determining the colonization of high-quality sites could aid conservationists in mitigating the damaging effects of maladaptive habitat selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem*
  • Population Density
  • Population Dynamics