Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Game-on, game-off: Bridging ecological and neurological pathways to fear (#781)

Sonny S Bleicher 1 , Joel S Brown 2
  1. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
  2. Biological Science, University of Illinois at Chicago , Chicago , Illinois, United States of America

Both ecologists and neurologists focus a great amount of effort into studying predator-prey interactions, each using this framework to understand unique aspects organism functions of micro- and macro-levels. Here, we suggest a framework that bridges both the reflex-based neurological fear, and the information-based strategic, ecological fear. In addition we identify within this program two research directions than would greatly benefit from cross-field collaboration, paranoia and naiveté. Individuals with over-sensitive fear receptors, i.e. paranoid individuals, should be evolutionarily at a disadvantage. Overestimating risk greatly increases the missed opportunity costs thus reducing the individual’s fitness. On the opposite, the inability to perceive risk accurately (at the multiple levels of naiveté) has even greater implications. We attribute naiveté as the key factor for biological extinctions we observed in this past century; the best recorded examples are for Australian mammalian fauna. These junctures of eco-evolutionary and neurological dynamics should be fruitful collaborative frameworks, but are rare. The combination expertise can influence wildlife management and conservation and help find the mechanisms resulting in syndromes that afflict large portions of the human populations living in the shadow of wars and other density-dependent stressors.