Predator-awareness training in terrestrial vertebrates: Progress, problems and possibilities

Thomas A.A.D. Rowell*, Michael J.L. Magrath, Robert D. Magrath

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Animals bred in captivity or isolated from predators often suffer high rates of predation when translocated, having not learned to recognise or respond appropriately to predators. As a result, researchers and managers have used training programs to give individuals experience with predators and promote learning of appropriate anti-predator behaviours prior to release. While highly successful in aquatic systems, the effectiveness of training programs in terrestrial animals is less clear. We therefore review published and grey literature on predator awareness training in terrestrial vertebrates to describe the current state of the field, identify challenges, and make recommendations for future programs. We uncovered only 34 publications describing 40 studies on 29 species, and these varied widely in focus, methods and specific outcomes. Studies overwhelmingly reported success in modifying behaviour, despite few explicitly measuring the survival of trained individuals post-release. In general, it is difficult to evaluate the outcomes of training because of the diversity of methods, different measures of success, and constraints of working with small numbers of individuals of endangered species. We make recommendations across study setting, methods and definitions of success with the aim of facilitating replication and comparison, with a view to improving the outcomes of captive breeding and translocation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number108740
    JournalBiological Conservation
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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