Behavioral ecologists have advocated a greater role for behavioral research in conservation, and the contribution of behavioral study to conservation has increased dramatically. However, a review of the literature in the fields of behavioral ecology and conservation finds that half the articles that investigate behavior in conservation journals do not advance beyond the descriptive phase (compared with 14 percent in behavioral ecology journals) and that most articles in behavioral ecology journals (71 percent) are narrowly focused on questions about the adaptive value of behavior, whereas conservation biology journals include more diverse interests such as causative and developmental mechanisms (43 percent). Addressing this mismatch between the disciplines is the key to improving the utility of behavioral ecology in conservation. The solution I propose is a renewed appreciation of Tinbergen's paradigm, both in behavioral ecology, where it can encourage more pluralistic research by integrating proximate and evolutionary questions, and in conservation biology, where it can structure the advance from descriptive studies of behavior to behavioral problem solving.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4