Anne Clay, Science
Scientific Events and Outreach Coordinator
Wild Animal Initiative
Fairfax, Virginia, United States
Grey Fernandez, Science Department
Wild Animal Initiative
Gainesville, Florida, United States
The study of wild animal welfare is an integrated discipline that, through an animal centric approach, offers opportunities to improve both ecological understanding and practice holistically. The session will highlight the importance of welfare in ecology by introducing some key concepts that underlie a fundamental understanding of nature, and by demonstrating the importance of this knowledge for wildlife management and conservation practitioners. Through a cohesive series of talks, we will walk participants through these concepts. Starting by framing the welfare of wild animals as a function of their conscious experiences through a discussion of sentience, we will explore how this framing sheds light on ecological investigation of wild animals. Second, we will highlight the interdependencies of behavioral ecology and welfare by exploring a few specific examples where understanding welfare provides valuable insights for understanding behaviors. Next, we will describe how applying a welfare lens to the study of wild animals in their wild landscapes can inform ecology and practice. The session will conclude with an exploration of ecosystem dynamics and opportunities to investigate animal welfare in the context of network effects.
Through their talks, well-known scientists from a broad range of disciplines, each a leader in their respective field, will identify the reciprocal value of integrating ecology and welfare. In each of the talks, from sentience to ecosystems, speakers will provide a practical understanding of how to apply research to practice and, in so doing, highlight opportunities to improve wildlife management and conservation. The integrated nature of the subject means the session should be of broad interest to ecologists. Framing ecological practice through a welfare lens provides valuable insights for all ecologists, from detail-oriented behavioral and population ecologists, to broader systems theoreticians striving to understand networks and ecosystems, to managers seeking to apply these insights in real-world contexts.
Through this session we will bring together practitioners and researchers to share their thoughts and insights and build stronger opportunities for future implementation of science to practice. Whether they be theoretical, applied or active practitioners, we aim to introduce all ecologists, irrespective of field, location, race or culture, to the benefits of a welfare framing and help them to consider the multi-dimensional concepts and insights that such an approach has to offer. We hope to explore how welfare enhances understanding of ecology and might also help improve public awareness and engage greater support for ecology.
Presenting Author: Vittoria Elliott – Wild Animal Initiative, Smithsonian Institution
Co-author: Bonnie Flint – Wild Animal Initiative
Co-author: Michael Beaulieu – Wild Animal Initiative
Co-author: Anne S. Clay, Science – Wild Animal Initiative
Presenting Author: Heather Browning – London School of Economics
Presenting Author: Melissa Bateson, Biosciences Institute – Newcastle University
Presenting Author: Michael Sheriff, Biology – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth