What We’re Reading: Jan 1, 2016

Effects of Poaching on Elephant Social Hierarchy
African elephants have a fission-fusion society important to their fitness and centered around the oldest individual, the matriarch. Poaching targets individuals with large tusks and therefore has the potential to disrupt social structure by removing important females. This study found that elephant social structure is resilient to such changes because younger daughters replace matriarchs and replicate patterns of sociality created by their mothers. In groups were many individuals are poached, groups adapt by fusing with other previously distinct matrilines.

Academic Papers in the Policy Sphere
This paper (open) discusses how academics through the publication of their research can influence policy debates. It is written from a medical perspective but applies to many environmental and conservation issues as well. The authors make two salient points; first, that academics are too reactive in their publications on issues receiving policy attention. Specifically, that by the time a paper is published, the policy debate may have ended. Second, that synthesis and not original research is most helpful in the policy debate. Thus academics that want to contribute to policy should consider writing accessible, jargon-lite reviews.

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