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Attention, noise, and implications for wildlife conservation and management

By Alvin Aaden Yim-Hol Chan, Daniel T. Blumstein

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Abstract

Anthropogenic stimuli are often viewed as disturbances that directly interfere with signal processing or communication, or directly harm animals. However, such sounds may also distract individuals and thus potentially interfere with their ability to make biologically important decisions about food selection, mate selection, and predator detection. This is because all of these decisions require animals to focus their attention on these tasks and the attention allocated to perceived stimuli is limited. We review the ways that attention is studied, the diversity of taxa in which this cognitive process has been studied, and how stimuli from one modality may interfere with attentional processes in another modality. Such distraction may increase the vulnerability of prey to predators and thus influence predation rates and, ultimately, both the population size, and the effective population size (through differential mortality). Recognizing that distraction is likely to be widespread is the first step towards managing it for wildlife conservation and the management of problem animals.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 131
Issue 1
Pages 1-7
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.01.007
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Tags
  1. Attention
  2. Conservation
  3. Management
  4. Noise