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      Behavioral and physiological adjustments to new predators in an endemic island species, the Galápagos marine iguana.

      Hormones and Behavior
      Age Factors, Animals, Behavior, Animal, physiology, Cats, Dogs, Ecuador, Escape Reaction, Female, Food Chain, Hydrocortisone, analysis, Iguanas, Male, Predatory Behavior, Seawater, Social Dominance

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          Abstract

          For the past 5 to 15 million years, marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), endemic to the Galápagos archipelago, experienced relaxed predation pressure and consequently show negligible anti-predator behavior. However, over the past few decades introduced feral cats and dogs started to prey on iguanas on some of the islands. We investigated experimentally whether behavioral and endocrine anti-predator responses changed in response to predator introduction. We hypothesized that flight initiation distances (FID) and corticosterone (CORT) concentrations should increase in affected populations to cope with the novel predators. Populations of marine iguanas reacted differentially to simulated predator approach depending on whether or not they were previously naturally exposed to introduced predators. FIDs were larger at sites with predation than at sites without predation. Furthermore, the occurrence of new predators was associated with increased stress-induced CORT levels in marine iguanas. In addition, age was a strong predictor of variation in FID and CORT levels. Juveniles, which are generally more threatened by predators compared to adults, showed larger FIDs and higher CORT baseline levels as well as higher stress-induced levels than adults. The results demonstrate that this naive island species shows behavioral and physiological plasticity associated with actual predation pressure, a trait that is presumably adaptive. However, the adjustments in FID are not sufficient to cope with the novel predators. We suggest that low behavioral plasticity in the face of introduced predators may drive many island species to extinction.

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          How Do Glucocorticoids Influence Stress Responses? Integrating Permissive, Suppressive, Stimulatory, and Preparative Actions

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            Fear in animals: a meta-analysis and review of risk assessment.

            The amount of risk animals perceive in a given circumstance (i.e. their degree of 'fear') is a difficult motivational state to study. While many studies have used flight initiation distance as a proxy for fearfulness and examined the factors influencing the decision to flee, there is no general understanding of the relative importance of these factors. By identifying factors with large effect sizes, we can determine whether anti-predator strategies reduce fear, and we gain a unique perspective on the coevolution of predator and anti-predator behaviour. Based on an extensive review and formal meta-analysis, we found that predator traits that were associated with greater risk (speed, size, directness of approach), increased prey distance to refuge and experience with predators consistently amplified the perception of risk (in terms of flight initiation distance). While fish tolerated closer approach when in larger schools, other taxa had greater flight initiation distances when in larger groups. The presence of armoured and cryptic morphologies decreased perception of risk, but body temperature in lizards had no robust effect on flight initiation distance. We find that selection generally acts on prey to be sensitive to predator behaviour, as well as on prey to modify their behaviour and morphology.
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              Conservation physiology.

              Conservation biologists increasingly face the need to provide legislators, courts and conservation managers with data on causal mechanisms underlying conservation problems such as species decline. To develop and monitor solutions, conservation biologists are progressively using more techniques that are physiological. Here, we review the emerging discipline of conservation physiology and suggest that, for conservation strategies to be successful, it is important to understand the physiological responses of organisms to their changed environment. New physiological techniques can enable a rapid assessment of the causes of conservation problems and the consequences of conservation actions.
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