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Krisitine Rosquist

The Social Side of Human-Wildlife Interaction: Wildlife can Learn Harmful

Behaviors from Each Other.
In the scientific study The Social Side of Human-Wildlife Interaction, four scientists
studied bottlenose dolphins (BDs) to figure out how food conditioning arose. Scientists knew
that animal food patterns were being affected negatively due to human activity with the wild
animals. Experiments were conducted to anticipate what made animals more predisposed to
accepting handouts.
In order to stabilize the problem and prevent further damage to the ecosystem, scientists
needed to figure out how BDs learned how to accept the human handouts. The goal was prevent
more death or injury to both humans and animals by determining various causes for the
conditioned behavior.
Scientists gathered information about the BDs and observed different factors that might be
affecting their behavior. The factors included age, sex, populated areas, and interactions with
other affected individuals. According to (Donaldson, Finn, Bejder, Lusseau, & Calver, 2012),
here we examine whether social learning influenced bottlenose dolphins that learned to accept
food from recreational fishers in Western Australia and whether predictor variables could be
developed to indicate whether animals would learn to acquire anthropogenic foods, based on
individual-specific data (p. 427).

By understanding the study conservationists would be able to control what areas needed
attention and the species that should receive the most protection. Scientists stated Finally, the
role of human provisioners observed in this study emphasizes that human behaviors can be key
determinants of harmful human wildlife interactions and suggests that efforts to change human
behaviors are often the best management option (Donaldson, Finn, Bejder, Lusseau, & Calver,
2012) (p.433)
Materials and Methods:
The scientists conducted studies from four variables to determine which of them, in
combination or alone affected the animals the most. To obtain their information they used
observation, Sampling, recording data, data analysis and models.
To determine the age and sex they observed attributes and traits associated with the dolphins
to categorize them. They also used observation to locate the dolphins use of high-density areas.
By using specific data and statistical graphs the scientists were able to determine how
predisposed dolphins affected non-predisposed dolphins. They were also able to find out which
variables had the greatest effects.
The graphs compared the different variables to one another to prove that certain
combinations caused a greater inclination for the conditioning behavior observed. The numbers
they recorded were used in different tables showing the change in numerical value between the
factors. The results of these experiments also ruled that some individual data had little to do with
the conditioning behavior, the result was unexpected to the scientists.

There were two parts to their hypothesis. The first part of the hypothesis states social
learning could influence how animals learn to acquire anthropogenic food sources (Donaldson,
Finn, Bejder, Lusseau, & Calver, 2012) (p.432). The second was whether specific variables such
as age and sex affected the BDs behavior.
They came to the conclusion that half of their hypothesis was correct and the second half
had very little to contribute. They were able to prove that BDs social learning influenced the
behaviors they observed. The second hypothesis was disproved when the numbers they received
showed little correlation to the behavior that was learned by the dolphins.
Their study came to two main determining factors, social interaction with predisposed
dolphins in combination with high-density areas resulted in higher attraction to accepting
handouts. The team only had 74 test subjects; this excluded the calves in the dolphin unit.
Because of the low number of subjects (Donaldson, Finn, Bejder, Lusseau, & Calver, 2012) state,
we are cautious about dismissing the potential influence of propensities associated with age and
sex, we suggest that the potential contributions of these variables are unresolved (p. 432). If
they had more numbers they could come up with a conclusion how sex and age affect the results.
Limiting factors in this study were the small number of test subjects and the limited time spent
observing the subjects. If other animal species with this behavior were observed more focused
numbers and studies would help prove the greatest factors affecting groups.

Donaldson, R., Finn, H., Bejder, L., Lusseau, D., & Calver, M. (2012). The social side of humanwildlife interaction: wildlife can learn harmful behaviours from each other. Animal Conservation
, 427-435.