Bettering the devil you know: Can we drive predator adaptation to restore native fauna?

Adrian D. Manning*, Tim A. Andrewartha, Anton Blencowe, Kyle Brewer, Iain J. Gordon, Maldwyn J. Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Predation of threatened fauna by native and introduced predators can drive extinction and prevent population recovery. Most predator management involves exclusion or culling. Evidence suggests that exclusion may have detrimental effects on a prey species' predator awareness. At the same time, culling can cause selection of control-resistant predators. There is increasing interest in harnessing evolutionary processes to drive adaptation of threatened fauna to cope, but there is limited attention on trying this from the predator direction. We need to shift the survival advantage away from predators that avoid lethal control, and go on to kill, towards those that demonstrate behaviors that reduce impact on threatened fauna. Instead of driving undesirable predator selection, could we select through management actions desirable traits to make them “less lethal” to threatened fauna? We draw on experimental research on predator aversion that suggests there may be an alternative way to mitigate the impacts of predators, while maintaining the learning opportunities of prey species. Using the case study of the invasive red fox in Australia, we propose a conceptual framework within which future research and management could occur to select for these desirable traits in predators and develop practical regimes for predator impact mitigation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere447
    JournalConservation Science and Practice
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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