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Animal Behaviour in Conservation


About this course

This is a 100% online course. All activities and learning materials are online. Students go through 5 modules, which include knowledge clips, case studies, assignments and recap questions. The final assignment will be handed in on Brightspace.

Module 1. Introduction to Conservation Behaviour
In this module we welcome you to the course and introduce you to the field of Conservation Behaviour: the application of animal behaviour to conservation. Moreover, we will set the foundation for more advanced topics. You will first learn about the diversity of threats facing animals, and the challenges that the following modules will focus on. You will become acquainted with key animal behaviour concepts such as learning and movement that are relevant to conservation challenges throughout the course. We'll introduce you to a conceptual framework for thinking about animal behaviour in conservation. You will also learn how to search for species-specific information relevant to conservation.

Module 2. Human-Induced Rapid Environmental Change (HIREC)
Humans have rapidly modified the environment. In this module you will learn about how this affects animals. We will introduce the various behavioural responses to change and the mechanisms underlying them. Then we'll explain the IUCN conservation planning cycle and how the course assignments relate to it. You will then begin your conservation action plan assignment by identifying the key stakeholders.

Module 3. Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC)
In this module we will discuss the implications of conflict between humans and wildlife for conservation. We will focus on how behavioural differences between species can explain why some are more likely to end up in conflict then others. Through examples it will become clear how practitioners are trying to modify animal behaviour to reduce the conflicts to benefit both animals and people. You will continue your assignment by identifying a measurable conservation objective and planning a behaviour-based action that could reach the objective.

Module 4. Reintroductions and Translocations
Reintroductions and translocations are one field of conservation in which behavioural knowledge is indisputably crucial. How do you prepare animals to be moved to a new location? Will they stay where they are released? Will they respond appropriately to new threats, and know how to find safe food? This module will explore how to answer these questions using a behavioural perspective. You will continue with your conservation assignment by evaluating your planned behaviour-based action. This includes reflecting on its expected suitability, feasibility and social acceptability.

Module 5. Advanced Topics & Closure
In this last module, we will recap the course topics, and explore how behavioural diversity within and across species generates further insights for wildlife conservation. You will also finish your conservation action plan by determining how you will monitor progress and quantify the success of your approach. For your final verified assignment you will submit your full action plan along with a critical reflection on how it could contribute to your focal species’ conservation. We will also provide you with resources to further build on the material in the course.

More course information and instructions on how to register can be found on:

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course, students are expected to be able to:

  • connect key behavioural concepts to relevant conservation challenges;
  • understand how animals use behaviour to mitigate anthropogenic threats;
  • recognize which behavioural traits can serve as threat and management indicators;
  • identify successful examples of behaviour-based conservation management;
  • use relevant resources to find species-specific information on biology and conservation challenges;
  • design a basic species action plan incorporating a behaviour-based conservation action.

Teaching method and examination

  • written exam (closed questions) (50%);peer feedback completed (5%);
  • complete Animal Behaviour-based Conservation Action Plan (45%);
  • minimum grade for each part is 5.50 .

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
Introduction to Animal Behaviour: BHE20303 or BHE50801

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    1 september 2023

    • Ends
      31 augustus 2024
    • Term *
      Academic Year
    • Location
    • Instruction language
  • Start date

    2 september 2024

    • Ends
      31 augustus 2025
    • Term *
      Academic Year
    • Location
    • Instruction language
For guests registration, this course is handled by Wageningen University