Saturday, 18 August 2018

The cognition of ‘nuisance’ species

Animal Behaviour Available online 30 May 2018 In Press, Corrected ProofWhat are Corrected Proof articles? Animal Behaviour Special Issue: Cognitive Ecology Author links open overlay panelLisa P.Barrettab1Lauren A.Stantonab1SarahBenson-Amramab a Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, U.S.A. b Program in Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, U.S.A. Received 21 December 2017, Revised 5 March 2018, Accepted 10 April 2018, Available online 30 May 2018. MS. number: SI-17-01000 Show less rights and content Highlights • Animals living in areas of high human disturbance must cope with novel challenges. • Complex cognitive abilities may help animals to survive in human-altered habitats. • Animals exhibiting complex cognition may encounter human conflict more frequently. • We examine possible connections between animal cognition and conflict with humans. • We discuss the importance of considering animal cognition in conflict mitigation. Recent work in animal cognition has focused on how animals respond to new or changing environments. Although many species are currently in decline, other species are thriving in human-altered habitats by taking advantage of new resources and opportunities associated with anthropogenic disturbance. Yet, as a result, these same species are often in conflict with humans and treated as a nuisance. Therefore, cognitive abilities such as innovation and behavioural flexibility may, paradoxically, lead to the demise of especially adaptive individuals. Here we review what is known about the cognition of ‘nuisance’ species and ‘problem’ individuals to shed light on the struggles of coexistence with humans along disturbed landscapes. We take an in-depth look at several cognitive abilities that are hypothesized to be of critical importance for species that are successfully utilizing human-altered environments, including neophilia, boldness, categorization, innovation, memory, learning, social learning and behavioural flexibility, and examine evidence that these cognitive abilities may also bring animals into conflict with humans. We also highlight some examples of species that may be using cognitive mechanisms to change their behaviour to avoid conflict with humans. We then discuss the role of animal cognition in current mitigation strategies that have been developed to address human–wildlife conflict. Additionally, we consider the role that human behaviour and perception of animals might play in either worsening or lessening conflict with wildlife. Finally, we propose some directions for future research and suggest that empirical investigation of ‘nuisance’ animal cognition could reveal the cognitive mechanisms underlying adaptation to anthropogenic change as well as help mitigate human–wildlife conflict. Previous articleNext article Keywords behavioural flexibilitycomparative cognitionconservation behaviourhuman–wildlife conflictinnovationlearningmitigationneophiliaurbanization