Wilkinson publishes on public interest in individual animals bolstering wildlife conservation
Inspired by ‘P-22’, a mountain lion who was monitored for a decade in the Los Angeles area, Christine Wilkinson’s piece in Nature Ecology & Evolution discusses the broader conservation benefits of naming and narrative around individual study animals.
Wilkinson writes, “scientists have long debated the potential benefits and detriments of assigning names to individual study animals. Motivated by the goal of maintaining scientific objectivity, some researchers shy away from labelling study subjects with proper names or from publicizing such names. On the other hand, naming animal study subjects can boost researcher empathy, and assigning identities to individual study animals is both necessary and customary in behavioural, population and conservation-related studies. Beyond the practical value of naming individual study animals, narratives around animal names have the power to engage the public with conservation initiatives.”