Thinking for Conservation

Welcome to the comparative cognition for conservation lab at Hunter College, The City University of New York. We study the intelligence of animals, with a primary focus on elephants, with the goal of a) better understanding how similar physical and social decision-making processes evolve in evolutionary distant species, and b) using our growing understanding of how non-human animals think to develop better strategies for conserving them in the wild.

This lab, run by Dr. Joshua Plotnik, assistant professor of psychology and faculty member in the animal behavior and conservation program at Hunter College, The City University of New York, works to better understand how non-human animals think and how an understanding of the cognitive processes that underlie problem-solving and social decision-making could help us in the mitigation of human/wildlife conflict situations. We conduct research with animals in zoological institutions in the U.S., in wildlife facilities in Thailand, and on wild animals living in a variety of landscapes in Thailand and India.

Check out the “Research” tab for more information on our current research projects.

If you’re interested in joining the lab as a student, please contact Dr. Plotnik at joshua.plotnik(at) If you’re interested in a job with us, current postings can be found under the “Contact” tab.