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French naïve, feminine of naïf, from Old French, inborn, natural, from Latin nativus native


  • 1 : marked by unaffected simplicity : artless, ingenuous
  • 2 a : deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially : credulous
b : not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation <made the test with naive rats>; also : not having previously used a particular drug (as marijuana)
c : not having been exposed previously to an antigen <naive T cells>
b : produced by or as if by a self-taught artist <naive murals>

Description (Ecological)

Island tameness is the tendency of many populations and species of animals living on isolated islands to lose their wariness of potential predators, particularly of large animals. The term is partly synonymous with ecological naïvete, which also has a wider meaning referring to the loss of defensive behaviors and adaptations needed to deal with these "new" predators. Species retain such wariness of predators that exist in their environment, for example a Hawaiian Goose retains its wariness of hawks, but lose such behaviors associated with mammals or other predators not found in their historical range.

Island tameness can be highly maladaptive in situations where humans have introduced predators, intentionally or accidentally, such as pigs, dogs, rats or cats, to islands where ecologically naïve fauna lives. It has also made many island species, such as the long-extinct Dodo or the Short-tailed Albatross, vulnerable to human hunting. In many instances the native species are unable to learn to avoid new predators, or change their behavior to minimize their risk. This tameness is eventually lost or reduced in some species but many island populations are too small or breed too slowly for the affected species to adapt quickly enough. When combined with other threats, such as habitat loss, this has led to the extinction of several species (such as the Laysan Rail and the Stephens Island Wren) and continues to threaten several others. The only conservation techniques that can help endangered species threatened by novel introduced species are creating barriers to exclude predators or eradicating those species. New Zealand has pioneered the use of offshore islands free of introduced species to serve as wildlife refuges for ecologically naïve species.