Physiological and behavioral differences in Magellanic Penguin chicks in undisturbed and tourist-visited locations of a colony

Conservation Biology (Impact Factor: 4.36). 01/2005; 19:1571-1577. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00104.x

ABSTRACT Studies examining anthropogenic effects on wildlife typically focus on adults and on behavioral responses rather than the physiological consequences of human disturbances. Here we examined bow Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) chicks living in either tourist-visited or undisturbed areas of a breeding colony were affected by human visitation by comparing the baseline and stress-induced levels of corticosterone. during three periods of the breeding season. Newly hatched chicks in visited areas had higher corticosterone stress responses than newly hatched chicks in undisturbed, areas (p = 0.007), but baseline levels were similar. (p = 0.61). By 40-50 days of age and around fledging time, both visited and undisturbed chicks showed a robust corticosterone stress response to capture. Tourist-visited chicks did not flee when approached by humans, however, whereas undisturbed chicks fled significantly sooner (i.e., when approached no closer than 9 m; p < 0.0001). Although it is unknown whether Magel

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    ABSTRACT: Wildlife tourism is proliferating worldwide and has the potential to raise revenue for conservation as well as public awareness of conservation issues. However, concerns are growing about the potentially negative influence of such tourism on the wildlife involved. We investigate the effects of habituation, ecotourism and research activities on levels of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGCMs), a proxy for physiological stress, in wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the Central African Republic. We compare FGCMs in three human-contacted groups with those in unhabituated gorillas. We also explore how human–gorilla contact influences FGCMs of a gorilla group undergoing habituation and investigate how measures of general human–gorilla contact, tourism and human proximity influence FGCMs in recently and long-term habituated groups. Two of the three human-contacted groups had higher levels of FGCMs than unhabituated gorillas. The group undergoing habituation had the highest FGCMs, which increased up to 21 days following contacts, suggesting a cumulative FGCM response, in line with descriptions of a hormonal adaptation response to a chronic intermittent stressor. FGCMs in habituated groups were significantly associated with increasing frequency of violation of the 7 m distance rule by observers and with a medical intervention but not with other measures of human pressure. Our findings provide critical information for the management of this, and other, species whose conservation depends on habituation for ecotourism.
    Biological Conservation 01/2014; 172:72–79. · 3.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While negative effects of human disturbance on animals living above the ground have been widely reported, few studies have considered effects on animals occupying cavities or burrows underground. It is generally assumed that, in the absence of direct visual contact, such species are less vulnerable to disturbance. Seabird colonies can support large populations of burrow- and cavity-nesting species and attract increasing numbers of tourists. We investigated the potential effects of recreational disturbance on the reproductive behaviour of the European storm petrel Hydrobates pelagicus, a nocturnally-active cavity-nesting seabird. Reproductive phenology and outcome of nests subject to high and low levels of visitor pressure were recorded in two consecutive years. Hatching success did not differ between disturbance levels, but overall nestling mortality was significantly higher in areas exposed to high visitor pressure. Although visitor numbers were consistent throughout the season, the magnitude and rate of a seasonal decline in productivity were significantly greater in nests subject to high disturbance. This study presents good evidence that, even when humans do not pose a direct mortality risk, animals may perceive them as a predation risk. This has implications for the conservation and management of a diverse range of burrow- and cavity-dwelling animals. Despite this reduction in individual fitness, overall colony productivity was reduced by ⩽1.6% compared with that expected in the absence of visitors. While the colony-level consequences at the site in question may be considered minor, conservation managers must evaluate the trade-off between potential costs and benefits of public access on a site- and species-specific basis.
    Biological Conservation 01/2014; 174:127–133. · 3.79 Impact Factor