Biological mechanisms matter in contemporary wildlife conservation

iScience. 2023 Feb 14;26(3):106192. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106192. eCollection 2023 Mar 17.


Given limited resources for wildlife conservation paired with an urgency to halt declines and rebuild populations, it is imperative that management actions are tactical and effective. Mechanisms are about how a system works and can inform threat identification and mitigation such that conservation actions that work can be identified. Here, we call for a more mechanistic approach to wildlife conservation and management where behavioral and physiological tools and knowledge are used to characterize drivers of decline, identify environmental thresholds, reveal strategies that would restore populations, and prioritize conservation actions. With a growing toolbox for doing mechanistic conservation research as well as a suite of decision-support tools (e.g., mechanistic models), the time is now to fully embrace the concept that mechanisms matter in conservation ensuring that management actions are tactical and focus on actions that have the potential to directly benefit and restore wildlife populations.

Keywords: Biological sciences; Evolutionary biology; Zoology.

Publication types

  • Review