Wildlife Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
Research success is dependent upon three core components: capacity, passion, and relevance. You can implement or revitalize your wildlife research program by considering these components like the legs of a stool. Capacity is a reflection of your ability to conduct the research based upon training, aptitude, and available infrastructure. The training can be acquired formally through graduate clinical or academic programs or through collegial mentoring and self-directed learning. While training is important, it does not guarantee aptitude. Aptitude is a reflection of your ability to think critically, design quality studies, write convincing proposals, and carry out the work in a thoughtful and organized fashion. In the wildlife research realm, adequate infrastructure is often achieved through collaborations among captive facilities, field programs, and sophisticated laboratories.
Once the core capacity components are in place, your team’s research success is still dependent upon the passion of the investigators. Building a research program requires a commitment to the subject matter and an unyielding tenacity to secure necessary funding. Wildlife researchers are usually strong on the passion component, especially for conservation problems. However, research programs cannot succeed without an audience or user of the results. This user is key for funding to be acquired and maintained. This audience can be donors or research funding institutions, but without interest from the funding community, the research program stool will topple. Wildlife researchers can consider these core components when making an investment in a new scientific endeavor or invigorating their existing programs to maximize the probability for success.