The terms ‘coexistence’, ‘tolerance,’ and ‘acceptance’ appear frequently in conservation literature, but lack consistent characterization, making them difficult to apply across intervention frameworks. This review aims to describe the common characterizations of these three terms using Africa-based research as a case study. Through systematic lexical searches, we identified 392 papers containing one or more of the three terms. We assessed their usage, definition, and measurement (or lack thereof) in wildlife conservation. Coexistence was used in 46% of papers, but was defined in only 2% and measured in 4%. Tolerance and acceptance were used in 63% and 61% of the papers in which they appeared, respectively, defined in 4% and 2%, and measured in 19% and 5%. These results confirm the lack of clear understanding of these concepts and evidence the need for a precise lexicon. This would allow conservationists to cohesively describe their work and increase replicability of research across contexts.
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At the time of writing, JAG was the associate director of the Community Engagement Team of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. JK was supported by a research fellowship from Institute for Conservation Research. We would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.
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Knox, J., Ruppert, K., Frank, B. et al. Usage, definition, and measurement of coexistence, tolerance and acceptance in wildlife conservation research in Africa. Ambio (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01352-6
- Conservation goals
- Conservation lexicon
- Human dimensions
- Literature review