Leveraging Motivations, Personality, and Sensory Cues for Vertebrate Pest Management

Patrick M. Garvey* (Corresponding Author), Peter B. Banks, Justin P. Suraci, Thomas W. Bodey, Alistair S. Glen, Chris J. Jones, Clare McArthur, Grant L. Norbury, Catherine J. Price, James C. Russell, Andrew Sih

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Managing vertebrate pests is a global conservation challenge given their undesirable socio-ecological impacts. Pest management often focuses on the ‘average’ individual, neglecting individual-level behavioural variation (‘personalities’) and differences in life histories. These differences affect pest impacts and modify attraction to, or avoidance of, sensory cues. Strategies targeting the average individual may fail to mitigate damage by ‘rogues’ (individuals causing disproportionate impact) or to target ‘recalcitrants’ (individuals avoiding standard control measures). Effective management leverages animal behaviours that relate primarily to four core motivations: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and fornication. Management success could be greatly increased by identifying and exploiting individual variation in motivations. We provide explicit suggestions for cue-based tools to manipulate these four motivators, thereby improving pest management outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1000
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Ecology & Evolution
Issue number11
Early online date6 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

We wish to thank Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research staff, particularly Peter Millard and Bruce Warburton, for facilitating and supporting this research. Thanks to Jenna Bytheway for infographic design. This research was supported by Strategic Science Investment funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group, awarded to Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. T.W.B. was supported by Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant number 747120, and A.S. was supported by National Science Foundation grant IOS 1456724.


  • animal behaviour
  • individual variation
  • sensory cues
  • pest control
  • behaviour-based management
  • Wildlife conservation
  • wildlife conservation
  • RATS


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