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Larm, M. (2024). Relationship between wildlife and tourism - interdisciplinary insights from Arctic fox tourism in Sweden. (Doctoral dissertation). Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Relationship between wildlife and tourism - interdisciplinary insights from Arctic fox tourism in Sweden
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Interactions between wildlife and tourism can be studied from several different perspectives and the effects of such interactions can influence animals both positively and negatively with effects on both individual and population levels. This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining both natural and social perspectives, when studying the effects of tourism activity on a small population of the endangered arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). We have studied arctic foxes inhabiting disturbed and undisturbed den sites in Helagsfjällen, which is the southernmost population of arctic foxes in Sweden and a popular area for recreational activities such as hiking, skiing and camping. The overall objective of the thesis has been to contribute to good management of both arctic foxes and tourism within the study area, as well as to contribute with a comprehensive study of simultaneous disturbance effects and fitness consequences of wildlife tourism activities to the scientific field of wildlife-tourism interactions. The first two papers focus on different aspects of behavioral responses of arctic foxes towards human activity, the third paper evaluates potential fitness consequences and the fourth paper focus on the tourist aspect of the interaction. Behavioral changes in response to tourism disturbance that have been identified in the foxes include changes in vigilance and probability of hiding (Paper I), temporal activity shift at the den site (Paper II) and increased tolerance to human activity (Paper I, Paper II). Juvenile summer survival was higher at disturbed dens compared with undisturbed dens during years of declining small rodent densities (Paper III). Small rodent decline years is when the predation on arctic foxes is presumed to be highest and we suggest that the positive fitness effect could be mediated by a human-induced predator refuge for the foxes in close proximity of human activity. On the tourist aspect, we have identified effects on behavior, knowledge and awareness of the situation for arctic foxes and related conservation work (Paper IV). Overall, results in this thesis showed a high level of context-dependency, which highlights the importance of considering factors such as food availability, intra-species interactions and individual traits such as previous experience with humans. Consequently, the work in this thesis together with ongoing studies of hormonal stress responses constitutes one of the more comprehensive scientific studies of tourism effects on terrestrial mammals. The output from this thesis brings important deliverables for species-specific management and conservation, but also for other species given the rapidly growing interest for wildlife tourism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2024. p. 24
Keywords
wildlife tourism, human disturbance, human-wildlife interaction, conservation, predation, arctic fox
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-227484 (URN)978-91-8014-721-7 (ISBN)978-91-8014-722-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-05-02, Vivi Täckholmssalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-04-09 Created: 2024-03-14 Last updated: 2024-03-26Bibliographically approved
Larm, M., Hovland, A. L., Palme, R., Thierry, A.-M., Miller, A. L., Landa, A., . . . Eide, N. E. (2021). Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites as an indicator of adrenocortical activity in Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and recommendations for future studies. Polar Biology, 44(10), 1925-1937
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites as an indicator of adrenocortical activity in Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and recommendations for future studies
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2021 (English)In: Polar Biology, ISSN 0722-4060, E-ISSN 1432-2056, Vol. 44, no 10, p. 1925-1937Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Measuring fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCMs) is a widely used, non-invasive method for studies of stress in vertebrates. To study physiological responses in wild Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) to perceived stressors such as fluctuating food availability, occurrence of competitors and predators and disturbance from human activities, a species-specific physiological validation of a method to evaluate adrenocortical activity is needed. Here we used 15 captive Arctic foxes (both males and females and juveniles and adults) to investigate fGCM concentrations following ACTH injection (physiological validation), or handling alone and compared them with their respective baseline concentrations prior to the treatments. A 5 alpha-pregnane-3ss,11ss,21-triol-20-one enzyme immunoassay measured significant fGCM increases following both treatments. The time lags to reach peak fGCM values were 9.3 +/- 1.3 h and 12.8 +/- 1.7 h for ACTH and handling treatment, respectively. Concentrations of fGCMs varied a lot between individuals, but not attributed to sex nor age of the foxes. However, we found a negative relationship between boldness and fGCM concentrations. Faecal glucocorticoid metabolites concentrations did not change significantly over a period of 48 h in samples kept at temperatures reflecting winter and summer means. This would allow the collection of samples up to two days old in the wild regardless of the season. We conclude that our successfully validated method for measuring fGCMs can be used as a non-invasive tool for studies exploring various stressors both in wild and captive Arctic foxes.

Keywords
Arctic fox, Stress, Non-invasive method, Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites, ACTH challenge, Stability experiment
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-197406 (URN)10.1007/s00300-021-02917-1 (DOI)000684911400001 ()
Available from: 2021-10-04 Created: 2021-10-04 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
Lotsander, A., Hasselgren, M., Larm, M., Wallén, J., Angerbjörn, A. & Norén, K. (2021). Low persistence of genetic rescue across generations in the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). Journal of Heredity, 112(3), 276-285
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Low persistence of genetic rescue across generations in the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus)
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2021 (English)In: Journal of Heredity, ISSN 0022-1503, E-ISSN 1465-7333, Vol. 112, no 3, p. 276-285Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Genetic rescue can facilitate the recovery of small and isolated populations suffering from inbreeding depression. Long-term effects are however complex and examples spanning over multiple generations under natural conditions are scarce. The aim of this study was to test for long-term effects of natural genetic rescue in a small population of Scandinavian Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus). By combining a genetically verified pedigree covering almost 20 years with a long-term dataset on individual fitness (n=837 individuals), we found no evidence for elevated fitness in immigrant F2 and F3 compared to native inbred foxes. Population inbreeding levels showed a fluctuating increasing trend and emergence of inbreeding within immigrant lineages shortly after immigration. Between 0-5 and 6-9 years post immigration, the average population size decreased by almost 22 % and the average proportion of immigrant ancestry rose from 14 % to 27 %. Y chromosome analysis revealed that two out of three native male lineages were lost from the gene pool, but all founders represented at the time of immigration were still contributing to the population at the end of the study period through female descendants. The results highlight the complexity of genetic rescue and suggest that beneficial effects can be brief. Continuous gene flow may be needed for small and threatened populations to recover and persist in a longer time perspective.

Keywords
Conservation, gene flow, genetic rescue, genetic sweep, inbreeding
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-193275 (URN)10.1093/jhered/esab011 (DOI)000659449200005 ()33738472 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2021-05-18 Created: 2021-05-18 Last updated: 2022-04-12Bibliographically approved
Larm, M., Norén, K. & Angerbjörn, A. (2021). Temporal activity shift in arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in response to human disturbance. Global Ecology and Conservation, 27, Article ID e01602.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Temporal activity shift in arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) in response to human disturbance
2021 (English)In: Global Ecology and Conservation, ISSN 2351-9894, Vol. 27, article id e01602Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The rapidly growing interest for nature-based recreational activities threaten biodiversity values and increases the disturbance caused to wildlife. Several studies have demonstrated spatial and temporal activity shifts of animals in response to human disturbance. However, most studies investigate effects on how animals use an area of high tourism disturbance, such as a tourist resort or hiking trail, and not the effects of human disturbance at a key site for the animal, such as a denning or breeding site. In this study, we use photos from remote camera monitoring of arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) dens with the aim to investigate the effects of various levels of tourism disturbance on the diurnal activity pattern and vigilance of breeding adult arctic foxes at the den site. We find a temporal shift towards a higher daytime activity at the den in response to high intensity tourism (71 +/- 3.9% in disturbed areas compared with 53 +/- 6.2% in undisturbed areas), which stands in contrast to an increased nocturnality seen in studies of many other species, including another study of arctic foxes. We suggest that the difference could be explained by the higher cost of avoiding a key site for the animal, as in this study, compared with avoiding a more general human disturbance in an area within the distribution range of the animal, as in most other studies. Increased time spent avoiding the perceived threat of humans could compromise other important activities and have potential negative effects on e.g. hunting or provisioning for the juveniles. Human disturbance focused at a key site, such as a denning or breeding site, can thereby be expected to have larger consequences than what is observed in most studies of disturbance effects on wildlife. Based on observations of both tourists and arctic foxes during close encounters in an area of high intensity tourism, we also find that they both respond behaviorally to each other. The potential for positive or negative feedback mechanisms in such relationships between tourists and wildlife highlights the importance of considering both sides of the complex interaction to find a balance between preserving biodiversity and ensuring continued possibilities for recreation.

Keywords
Wildlife tourism, Human-wildlife interactions, Recreation, Human disturbance, Mutual relationship, Arctic fox
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-196291 (URN)10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01602 (DOI)000663457500012 ()
Available from: 2021-09-06 Created: 2021-09-06 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
Larm, M., Brundin, E., Stålhandske, T. & Angerbjörn, A. (2020). Arctic Fox Responses to Tourism Activity. Journal of Wildlife Management, 84(4), 821-828
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Arctic Fox Responses to Tourism Activity
2020 (English)In: Journal of Wildlife Management, ISSN 0022-541X, E-ISSN 1937-2817, Vol. 84, no 4, p. 821-828Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As the interest for nature-based tourism activities increases, it is important to provide evidence-based guidelines for wildlife-human interactions to minimize the disturbance caused to wildlife. In Fennoscandia, the endangered arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is subject to increasing tourism interest and some regions recommend a minimum approach distance of 300 m, but the guidelines have not been scientifically validated. We conducted experimental human approaches towards arctic fox den sites to study activity and behavioral changes in response to the approaching observer. The first arctic foxes hid when approached within 300 m, but many had increased their vigilance already at the start distance of 500 m. At approximately 200 m, the hiding probability increased rapidly at dens disturbed and undisturbed by tourism activities. Arctic foxes at disturbed dens allowed the observer to approach more closely before they increased their vigilance and before they hid compared to foxes at undisturbed dens. We confirm that a minimum distance of 300 m might be sufficient for most arctic foxes to refrain from hiding, but a longer distance would be required to avoid causing any disturbance. We recommend a minimum approach distance of >= 300 m to be implemented in all Fennoscandian regions inhabited by the arctic fox.

Keywords
arctic fox, human disturbance, human-wildlife interaction, minimum approach distance, nature-based tourism, wildlife tourism
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-179523 (URN)10.1002/jwmg.21827 (DOI)000510757500001 ()
Available from: 2020-03-09 Created: 2020-03-09 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
Larm, M., Erlandsson, R., Norén, K. & Angerbjörn, A. (2020). Fitness effects of ecotourism on an endangered carnivore. Animal Conservation, 23(4), 386-395
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fitness effects of ecotourism on an endangered carnivore
2020 (English)In: Animal Conservation, ISSN 1367-9430, E-ISSN 1469-1795, Vol. 23, no 4, p. 386-395Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nature-based recreational and tourism activities can exert significant direct and indirect impacts on wildlife, through behavioral, physiological and distributional changes. Despite many studies demonstrating such changes, few attempts have been made to quantify the fitness consequences and evaluate their biological significance. Helagsfjallen in Sweden is a core area of the endangered Fennoscandian arctic foxVulpes lagopus, and a popular area for recreational tourism. Some dens in the area experience daily disturbance from tourism during the summer season, while others are virtually undisturbed. We used a long-term dataset (2008-2017) of 553 juveniles in 74 litters to investigate summer juvenile survival, which is an important fitness component for the arctic fox. We found that the mean juvenile survival rate increased from 0.56 at undisturbed dens to 0.83 at disturbed den during years of decreasing small-rodent abundance, where predation on the arctic fox is presumed to be highest. We suggest that the increased survival could be mediated by a human activity-induced predator refuge for the arctic foxes in close proximity of trails and mountain huts. Our study demonstrates a possible positive indirect effect of nature-based tourism on wildlife and is one of a few studies attempting to quantify this impact. It highlights the importance of context for how animals are affected by disturbance. We also demonstrate that studying how the effects of tourism activity vary depending on the context could provide opportunities for identifying the mechanisms behind these effects, which can be an important link between scientific research and the management of wildlife and tourism activities.

Keywords
carnivore conservation, ecotourism, fitness, predator refuge, researcher disturbance, tourism disturbance, tourism management, wildlife tourism
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-185426 (URN)10.1111/acv.12548 (DOI)000562996600008 ()
Available from: 2020-10-12 Created: 2020-10-12 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
Larm, M., Elmhagen, B., Granquist, S. M., Brundin, E. & Angerbjörn, A. (2018). The role of wildlife tourism in conservation of endangered species: Implications of safari tourism for conservation of the Arctic fox in Sweden. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 23(3), 257-272
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of wildlife tourism in conservation of endangered species: Implications of safari tourism for conservation of the Arctic fox in Sweden
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2018 (English)In: Human Dimensions of Wildlife, ISSN 1087-1209, E-ISSN 1533-158X, Vol. 23, no 3, p. 257-272Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There are both positive and negative impacts on wildlife associated with wildlife tourism. In Sweden, the endangered Arctic fox is subject to a growing tourist interest. In the Helags mountain region there are guided Arctic fox safari tours that provide visitors with information about the Arctic fox. A survey of five separate groups of visitors in the region revealed that knowledge about the status of Arctic foxes and awareness of the behavioral guidelines for Arctic fox encounters improved after participation in a safari tour and with increasing Arctic fox interaction. We propose a schematic model summarizing the diverse ways in which wildlife tourism affects wildlife and their relative importance for conservation. The Arctic fox population in Sweden is small and sensitive to disturbance, but the positive impacts of Arctic fox tourism seem to compensate for the negative and contribute to their conservation under the current level of tourism pressure.

Keywords
Wildlife tourism, tourism impact, conservation, endangered, Arctic fox
National Category
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156707 (URN)10.1080/10871209.2017.1414336 (DOI)000431554200005 ()
Available from: 2018-05-28 Created: 2018-05-28 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-6534-3819

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