• Behavior;
  • biochemistry;
  • endocrinology;
  • energetics;
  • genomics;
  • multidisciplinary;
  • physiology


The recognition that physiological tools and knowledge have the potential to inform conservation policy has led to the definition of the nascent discipline of “conservation physiology.” Indeed, conservation physiology has much to offer policy makers because of the rigorous experimental approach and the focus on elucidating cause-and-effect relationships. However, there remain a number of challenges that might retard the adoption of this approach. Here, we identify these challenges and suggest a path for both physiologists and conservation practitioners to integrate their respective fields. One issue is that threat assessments and conservation actions tend to focus on populations or species, whereas physiology tends to focus on individuals, cells, or molecules. Physiologists must determine if and how the physiology of individual organisms can influence population-level processes. It is also necessary to validate more tools in the “conservation physiology toolbox,” and ensure a thorough understanding of the physiological biomarkers applied to conservation efforts. Research on imperiled taxa will be more useful to those making management decisions, rather than research focused on model species. We also recommend changes in the education of physiologists such that physiologists understand the process of policy making, and the needs of conservation practitioners.