Teixeira, L., Tisovec‐Dufner, K. C., Marin, G. de L., Marchini, S., Dorresteijn, I., & Pardini, R. (2020). Linking human and ecological components to understand human‐wildlife conflicts across landscapes and species. Conservation Biology, cobi.13537.
Human‐wildlife conflicts (HWC) are complex conservation challenges impairing both wildlife populations and human livelihood. Research on HWC, however, has traditionally approached ecological and human components separately, hampering a broader understanding of connections between ecological drivers and human dimensions of conflicts. We developed a model integrating ecological and human components of HWC to investigate the pathways through which the amount of remaining native forest at the landscape (forest cover) ‐ a key ecological variable known to influence species occurrence and abundance ‐ affects experiences with wildlife (contact with species and attacks to livestock), and how such experiences influence tolerance via beliefs, emotions and attitude. We tested the model via Piecewise Structural Equation Modeling using data on three mammals varying in rarity and body size: the opossum (Didelphis aurita), the crab‐eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) and the puma (Puma concolor), obtained by interviewing 114 landowners across 13 Atlantic forest landscapes (10‐50% forest cover). We found that: i. forest cover negatively affected tolerance by increasing attacks to livestock only for the puma; ii. relevance and effects of distinct experiences with wildlife on beliefs and emotions varied across species; iii. beliefs and emotions influenced tolerance, but negative emotions were relevant only for the puma. Conflicts with large carnivores, such as pumas, can then be understood as disservices provided by forests, indicating the relevance of framing HWC within a broader perspective that consider trade‐offs with ecosystems services. For some species, positive experiences with wildlife may counteract the negative effects of attacks to livestock in shaping tolerance. Models such as ours – that link ecological and human dimensions – can help to identify more effective leverage points to improve HWC mitigation.