Professional Course

Animal Behaviour in Conservation

edX, Online
5 weeks
5 weeks
Visit this course's homepage on the provider's site to learn more or book!

Course description

Animal Behaviour in Conservation

We will explore key concepts from animal behaviour and apply them to practical wildlife conservation issues. Such behaviour-sensitive management has led to successful conservation interventions:

  • A wind farm with technology warning for migrating birds decreased soaring bird mortality to zero with a shutdown period of only 0.21.2%.
  • A livestock grazing strategy avoiding cheetah communication hubs reduced livestock losses with 86%.
  • A mammal translocation program taking neighbour relations into account led to 24 times more offspring for translocated individuals.

Through informative knowledge clips, case studies, interviews, and practical assignments, you'll learn how you can use animal behaviour in conservation to effectively monitor threats, increase your understanding of the diverse responses to environmental change, and design innovative interventions.

Who should attend?


To get the most out of this course, you should hold an undergraduate degree in a field related to biology, or a minimum of one year of academic or professional experience in wildlife conservation.

Training content

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Course delivery details

This course is offered through Wageningen University & Research, a partner institute of EdX.

4-6 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$139
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • 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

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