Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program:
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources


The role of risk perception and social trust on coyote-sheep predation in California

June 2016 - December 2023


Participating Agencies

This research focuses on understanding how human risk perceptions and social trust influence human-wildlife conflict. In empirical studies, I combine techniques in wildlife ecology with the social sciences. In this series of projects funded by California DFW investigating the socio-ecology of coyote-sheep conflict, I showed that participatory maps improved ecological models of risk and addressed previously unreported issues of selection bias. In a subsequent study I co-led, we combined rancher interviews with an ecological experiment to show that the level of trust ranchers have for managers and scientists plays an important role in their interpretation of scientific data. In both of these studies, I shared findings in stakeholder workshops and through popular media. When this research was put into practice by ranchers, they witnessed dramatic declines in livestock predation. Simultaneously, California DFW has used our research to guide stakeholder engagement and conflict mitigation efforts. Stakeholder workshops provided novel insights into the ecological drivers of conflict, and, in research I co-led, these insights led to a novel framework and a highly cited publication that has improved conflict prediction and mitigation.

Research Publications Publication Date
Wilkinson, Christine E., Alex McInturff, Maggi Kelly, and Justin S. Brashares. "Quantifying wildlife responses to conservation fencing in East Africa." Biological Conservation 256 (2021): 109071. | Abstract April 2021
Volski, L., McInturff, A., Gaynor, K. M., Yovovich, V., & Brashares, J. S. (2021). Social Effectiveness and Human-Wildlife Conflict: Linking the Ecological Effectiveness and Social Acceptability of Livestock Protection Tools. Frontiers in Conservation Science, 42. | Abstract August 2021
Bidder, O.R., di Virgilio, A., Hunter, J.S., McInturff, A., Gaynor, K.M., Smith, A.M., Dorcy, J. and Rosell, F., 2020. Monitoring canid scent marking in space and time using a biologging and machine learning approach. Scientific reports, 10(1), pp.1-13. December 2020
McInturff, A., Xu, W., Wilkinson, C.E., Dejid, N. and Brashares, J.S., 2020. Fence ecology: Frameworks for understanding the ecological effects of fences. BioScience, 70(11), pp.971-985. December 2020
McInturff, A., Miller, J.R., Gaynor, K.M. and Brashares, J.S., 2021. Patterns of coyote predation on sheep in California: A socio‐ecological approach to mapping risk of livestock–predator conflict. Conservation Science and Practice, 3(3), p.e175. December 2021