University of the Philippines Los Baños


Professor Eberhard Curio, world-renowned conservation biologist and professor emeritus at the Ruhr-Universität Bochun in Germany, emphasized the importance of knowing animal behavior in conserving threatened species in his lecture “Conservation Needs Ethology: A Focus on Captive Breeding” on 27 March at the Plant Pathology Auditorium.

Prof. Curio, a visiting professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), said that ethology is indispensable for the survival of threatened species in situ, conservation breeding, and release of threatened species back into the wild. He highlighted the need to identify the behavior of threatened animals from the captive breeding stage until their release into their original habitat.

Ethology, the biological study of animal behavior, is one of the five essential fields in conservation biology, Prof. Curio said. The others are taxonomy, population biology, zoo biology, and veterinary medicine.

He put a premium on ethology’s importance during the stage where the species is released to the wild, and presented what he called as “hurdles in the road to release.” These include the animals’ (a) sensitivity period for sexual imprinting; (b) sensitivity period for hunting/handling prey/food; (c) failure to recognize predators; and (d) maladaptive behavior despite the animal’s perfect look.

Prof. Curio gave remedies in facing these four hurdles but also reminded the audience that ethology requires a case-by-case approach.  Likewise, he emphasized the importance of proper animal nutrition during the captive breeding stage and prior to their release into the wild. He also recognized the help of other disciplines, such as sociology, in dealing with conservation ethology.

The lecture, co-organized by IBS and the Museum of Natural History (MNH), capped Prof. Curio’s two-week visiting professorship at UPLB from 16 to 27 March. IBS Director Nina Cadiz and Deputy Director Aimee Lynn Dupo thanked Prof. Curio for his efforts in sharing his knowledge and expertise with the audience who were composed of biology, forestry, veterinary medicine, and development communication students. (MJE Gloria)