Field experiments have a central role in ethology and behavioural ecology, yet they engender peculiar ethical problems which are rarely addressed. Ethical concerns with such experiments are broadly classed into issues of suffering, the sanctity of life, individual 'rights', and conservation. The latter, involving manipulation of the animal's environment, is particularly important in field as distinct from laboratory experimentation. This paper seeks to stimulate debate about such ethical concerns amongst ethologists and behavioural ecologists. To do so, currently popular research methods in experimental field studies of behaviour are reviewed. Ethical concerns relevant to each methodology are then addressed. © 1991 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
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