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      Recreation effects on wildlife: a review of potential quantitative thresholds

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Outdoor recreation is increasingly recognised for its deleterious effects on wildlife individuals and populations. However, planners and natural resource managers lack robust scientific recommendations for the design of recreation infrastructure and management of recreation activities. We reviewed 38 years of research on the effect of non-consumptive recreation on wildlife to attempt to identify effect thresholds or the point at which recreation begins to exhibit behavioural or physiological change to wildlife. We found that 53 of 330 articles identified a quantitative threshold. The majority of threshold articles focused on bird or mammal species and measured the distance to people or to a trail. Threshold distances varied substantially within and amongst taxonomic groups. Threshold distances for wading and passerine birds were generally less than 100 m, whereas they were greater than 400 m for hawks and eagles. Mammal threshold distances varied widely from 50 m for small rodents to 1,000 m for large ungulates. We did not find a significant difference between threshold distances of different recreation activity groups, likely based in part on low sample size. There were large gaps in scientific literature regarding several recreation variables and taxonomic groups including amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles. Our findings exhibit the need for studies to measure continuous variables of recreation extent and magnitude, not only to detect effects of recreation on wildlife, but also to identify effect thresholds when and where recreation begins or ceases to affect wildlife. Such considerations in studies of recreation ecology could provide robust scientific recommendations for planners and natural resource managers for the design of recreation infrastructure and management of recreation activities.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Decline in relative abundance of bottlenose dolphins exposed to long-term disturbance.

          Studies evaluating effects of human activity on wildlife typically emphasize short-term behavioral responses from which it is difficult to infer biological significance or formulate plans to mitigate harmful impacts. Based on decades of detailed behavioral records, we evaluated long-term impacts of vessel activity on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in Shark Bay, Australia. We compared dolphin abundance within adjacent 36-km2 tourism and control sites, over three consecutive 4.5-year periods wherein research activity was relatively constant but tourism levels increased from zero, to one, to two dolphin-watching operators. A nonlinear logistic model demonstrated that there was no difference in dolphin abundance between periods with no tourism and periods in which one operator offered tours. As the number of tour operators increased to two, there was a significant average decline in dolphin abundance (14.9%; 95% CI=-20.8 to -8.23), approximating a decline of one per seven individuals. Concurrently, within the control site, the average increase in dolphin abundance was not significant (8.5%; 95% CI=-4.0 to +16.7). Given the substantially greater presence and proximity of tour vessels to dolphins relative to research vessels, tour-vessel activity contributed more to declining dolphin numbers within the tourism site than research vessels. Although this trend may not jeopardize the large, genetically diverse dolphin population of Shark Bay, the decline is unlikely to be sustainable for local dolphin tourism. A similar decline would be devastating for small, closed, resident, or endangered cetacean populations. The substantial effect of tour vessels on dolphin abundance in a region of low-level tourism calls into question the presumption that dolphin-watching tourism is benign.
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            Why behavioural responses may not reflect the population consequences of human disturbance

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              SPATIAL RESPONSES OF WOLVES TO ROADS AND TRAILS IN MOUNTAIN VALLEYS

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                May 28 2021
                May 28 2021
                : 44
                : 51-68
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.44.63270
                © 2021

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