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OneARK: Strengthening the links between animal production science and animal ecology

Destoumieux-Garzón, Delphine; Bonnet, Pascal; Teplitsky, Céline; Criscuolo, François; Henry, Pierre-Yves; Mazurais, David; Prunet, Patrick; Salvat, Gilles; Usseglio-Polatera, Philippe; Verrier, Etienne; Friggens, Nicolas C.

1. Wild and farmed animals are key elements of natural and managed ecosystems that deliver functions such as pollination, pest control and nutrient cycling within the broader roles they play in contributing to biodiversity and to every category of ecosystem services. They are subjected to global changes with a profound impact on the natural range and viability of animal species, the emergence and spatial distribution of pathogens, land use, ecosystem services and farming sustainability. We urgently need to improve our understanding of how animal populations can respond adaptively and therefore sustainably to these new selective pressures.

2. In this context, we explored the common points between animal production science and animal ecology to identify promising avenues of synergy between communities through the transfer of concepts and/or methodologies, focusing on seven concepts that link both disciplines. Animal adaptability, animal diversity (both within and between species), selection, animal management, animal monitoring, agroecology and viability risks were identified as key concepts that should serve the cross-fertilization of both fields to improve ecosystem resilience and farming sustainability.

3. The need for breaking down interdisciplinary barriers is illustrated by two representative examples: i) the circulation and reassortment of pathogens between wild and domestic animals and ii) the role of animals in nutrient cycles; i.e. recycling nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and carbon (C) through, for example, contribution to soil fertility and carbon sequestration.

4. Our synthesis identifies the need for knowledge integration techniques supported by programs and policy tools that reverse the fragmentation of animal research towards a unification into a single Animal Research Kinship, OneARK, which sets new objectives for future science policy.

5. At the interface of animal ecology and animal production science, our article promotes an effective application of the agroecology concept to animals and the use of functional diversity to increase resilience in both wild and farmed systems. It also promotes the use of novel monitoring technologies to quantify animal welfare and factors affecting fitness. These measures are needed to evaluate viability risk, predict and potentially increase animal adaptability, and improve the management of wild and farmed systems, thereby responding to an increasing demand of society for the development of a sustainable management of systems.

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