Integrating Animal Cognition and Conservation Science (Dr. V V Binoy): day4

Every moment sense organs of animals living in the natural habitats are bombarded with information. Depending upon the kind of sensory systems and cognitive abilities gifted by the evolution to their species response of the individuals towards a stimulus may range from simple kinesis to an action based on complex decision making. Hence, the cognitive abilities of a species – perception, information processing, learning, memory, decision making, etc. – play a vital role in determining the strategies utilized for coping with the pressures exerted by the constantly modifying environment on it. However, cognitive capacities of a species being the product of selection pressure experienced during the course of evolution, novel cues such as the Human Induced Rapid Environmental Changes (HIREC) or exotic heterospecifics could be decoded wrongly by the cognitive apparatus of the animal leading to the expression of behaviours not relevant to the situation. In many contexts, such behavioral modification could work as an ‘evolutionary trap’ leading to the extermination of the individual from its environment. The present workshop will introduce popular concepts and tools and techniques being utilized for studying animal cognition and the attempts made to apply the results of such studies for enhancing the efficacy of in situ and ex situ conservation programs, management of animal-human conflict and mitigating the threat of alien invasive species.