Journal article

Effects of learning and adaptation on population viability

Naomi L Indigo, Chris J Jolly, Ella Kelly, James Smith, Jonathan K Webb, Ben L Phillips



Cultural adaptation is one means by which conservationists may help populations adapt to threats. A learned behavior may protect an individual from a threat, and the behavior can be transmitted horizontally (within generations) and vertically (between generations), rapidly conferring population-level protection. Although possible in theory, it remains unclear whether such manipulations work in a conservation setting; what conditions are required for them to work; and how they might affect the evolutionary process. We examined models in which a population can adapt through both genetic and cultural mechanisms. Our work was motivated by the invasion of highly toxic cane toads (Rhinella marina)..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council Linkage Project

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Australian Wildlife Conservancy and their supporters for access to their field laboratory and for contributing to the study. We also thank K. Tuft and S. Legge for their efforts during the preliminary stages of project. This project was supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP15010072), The Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, and a postgraduate research award to N.I. We thank all who participated with field trials, the associate editor, and reviewers for their contributions to this manuscript.