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Elephant conservation debates need to be more constructive

The conservation of wildlife is complex and often contested, particularly when the species concerned is large, charismatic, with monetary value, and whose presence in an area can cause major direct impacts on people's lives. Such is the case for Africa's elephants, but it is true for other species as well, including big cats, large ungulates (hoofed mammals) and wolves. Conflicts over how to manage these species are widespread and challenging to resolve.

In particularly high profile cases, the public debates around these conflicts can become very heated and emotional.

Elton Prize awarded to Dr Rob Salguero-Gomez

Dr Roberto Salguero-Gómez – a NERC Independent Research Fellow at the University of Oxford – has been awarded a British Ecological Society Young Investigator prize. The prize, one of only five awarded each year, recognises the best research papers published in BES journals by early career scientists.

Rob won the Elton Prize for the best paper in the BES's Journal of Animal Ecology in 2016. As the journal’s most downloaded paper of the year, it presented the COMADRE Animal Matrix Database that is a new platform to help ecologists access demographic information across the animal kingdom.

Physical contact may be good for your health, according to new research

Red-bellied lemurs maintain gut health through touching and ‘huddling’ each other.

Scientists have found a direct link between physical contact and gut bacteria in red-bellied lemurs, likely passed through ‘huddling’ behaviour and touch, with implications for human health.

The University of Oxford worked in collaboration with scientists from several universities, including the University of Arizona and Hunter College (CUNY), on the research to better understand causes of diversity within the animal’s gut microbiome.

Replicating peregrine falcon attack strategies could help down rogue drones

Researchers at Oxford University have discovered that peregrine falcons steer their attacks using the same control strategies as guided missiles.

The findings, which overturn previous assumptions that peregrines’ aerial hunting follows simple geometric rules, could be applied to the design of small, visually guided drones that can take down other ‘rogue’ drones in settings such as airports or prisons.

Migration makes breeding harder for seabirds

Study reveals migration behaviours of puffins for the first time.

An international collaboration has for the first time revealed the key drivers of seabird migration. The new study suggests that puffin colonies that travel great distances during the winter often find it more difficult to breed than others, and that escaping your habitat with far flung migration therefore carries a cost.