, Volume 45, Issue 7, pp 841–851 | Cite as

AvianBuffer: An interactive tool for characterising and managing wildlife fear responses

  • Patrick-Jean Guay
  • Wouter F. D. van Dongen
  • Randall W. Robinson
  • Daniel T. Blumstein
  • Michael A. WestonEmail author


The characterisation and management of deleterious processes affecting wildlife are ideally based on sound scientific information. However, relevant information is often absent, or difficult to access or contextualise for specific management purposes. We describe ‘AvianBuffer’, an interactive online tool enabling the estimation of distances at which Australian birds respond fearfully to humans. Users can input species assemblages and determine a ‘separation distance’ above which the assemblage is predicted to not flee humans. They can also nominate the diversity they wish to minimise disturbance to, or a specific separation distance to obtain an estimate of the diversity that will remain undisturbed. The dataset is based upon flight-initiation distances (FIDs) from 251 Australian bird species (n = 9190 FIDs) and a range of human-associated stimuli. The tool will be of interest to a wide audience including conservation managers, pest managers, policy makers, land-use planners, education and public outreach officers, animal welfare proponents and wildlife ecologists. We discuss possible applications of the data, including the construction of buffers, development of codes of conduct, environmental impact assessments and public outreach. This tool will help balance the growing need for biodiversity conservation in areas where humans can experience nature. The online resource will be expanded in future iterations to include an international database of FIDs of both avian and non-avian species.


Buffers Co-existence Flight-initiation distance Human-wildlife conflict Wildlife management 



FIDs need to be collected under animal ethics and other permissions in Australia, and all our FID data were collected with appropriate permissions. Disclaimers on the use of the tool are provided therein. While the tool is provided free to any practitioner managing wildlife, commercial users are requested to contact the authors. We thank the many field volunteers who have collected data that have contributed to this online tool. The tool was funded by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Victoria University.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 581 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick-Jean Guay
    • 1
  • Wouter F. D. van Dongen
    • 1
  • Randall W. Robinson
    • 1
  • Daniel T. Blumstein
    • 2
  • Michael A. Weston
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Applied Ecology Research Group and Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, College of Engineering and ScienceVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built EnvironmentDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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