Ecological traps: Current evidence and future directions

Robin Hale, Stephen E. Swearer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

216 Citations (Scopus)


Ecological traps, which occur when animals mistakenly prefer habitats where their fitness is lower than in other available habitats following rapid environmental change, have important conservation and management implications. Empirical research has focused largely on assessing the behavioural effects of traps, by studying a small number of geographically close habitat patches. Traps, however, have also been defined in terms of their population-level effects (i.e. as preferred habitats of sufficiently low quality to cause population declines), and this is the scale most relevant for management. We systematically review the ecological traps literature to (i) describe the geographical and taxonomic distribution of efforts to study traps, (ii) examine howdifferent traps vary in the strength of their effects on preference and fitness, (iii) evaluate the robustness of methods being used to identify traps, and (iv) determine whether the information required to assess the population-level consequences of traps has been considered. We use our results to discuss key knowledge gaps, propose improved methods to study traps, and highlight fruitful avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20152647
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1824
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecological traps: Current evidence and future directions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this