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Fitness effects of ecotourism on an endangered carnivore
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Number of Authors: 42020 (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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 23, no 4, p. 386-395
Keywords [en]
carnivore conservation, ecotourism, fitness, predator refuge, researcher disturbance, tourism disturbance, tourism management, wildlife tourism
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-185426DOI: 10.1111/acv.12548ISI: 000562996600008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-185426DiVA, id: diva2:1475397
Available from: 2020-10-12 Created: 2020-10-12 Last updated: 2024-03-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Relationship between wildlife and tourism - interdisciplinary insights from Arctic fox tourism in Sweden
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

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Larm, MalinErlandsson, RasmusNorén, KarinAngerbjörn, Anders

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