Physiological and behavioral differences in Magellanic penguin chicks in undisturbed and tourist‐visited locations of a colony
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 how 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 Magellanic Penguin chicks raised in visited areas suffer negative consequences from the elevation of the corticosterone stress response at hatching, they do exhibit behavioral habituation to human contact by the time they are ready to fledge. Unlike adults living in tourist areas, however, fledging chicks in visited areas do not have a decreased stress response to capture and restraint. Our results show that the coupling of behavioral and physiological habituation in Magellanic Penguins is complex and life-history context may greatly affect the ability of wildlife to adapt to anthropogenic disturbances
Walker, Brian G.; Boersma, P. Dee; and Wingfield, John C., "Physiological and behavioral differences in Magellanic penguin chicks in undisturbed and tourist‐visited locations of a colony" (2005). Biology Faculty Publications. 61.
Walker, B. G., Boersma, P. D., & Wingfield, J. C. (2005). Physiological and behavioral differences in Magellanic penguin chicks in undisturbed and tourist‐visited locations of a colony. Conservation biology, 19(5), 1571-1577. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00104.x.