Consequences of Human Disturbance
This chapter asks whether human activities and human-induced changes to the environment are interpreted as stressors by wildlife. The answer is a resounding yes, but with many caveats. Some changes and activities, such as pollution and hunting, can be interpreted as incredibly strong stressors. These anthropogenic changes have profound impacts on individuals and populations. Other anthropogenic changes, however, such as ecotourism and urbanization, affect animals much more subtly. Changes in corticosteroid and catecholamine release can be documented, but the long-term impacts on the individuals are far less clear. The subtle endocrine changes may not ultimately alter an individual’s fitness. What is clear is that the stress response is an important physiological system for coping with anthropogenic changes, just as it is an important physiological system for coping with natural environmental changes.
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