A meta-analysis of human disturbance impacts on Antarctic wildlife

Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
Bernard W T Coetzee, Steven L Chown

Abstract

Evidence-based assessments are increasingly recognized as the best-practice approach to determine appropriate conservation interventions, but such assessments of the impact of human disturbance on wildlife are rare. Human disturbance comprises anthropogenic activities that are typically non-lethal, but may cause short- and/or longer-term stress and fitness responses in wildlife. Expanding human activity in the Antarctic region is of particular concern because it increases the scope and potential for increased human disturbance to wildlife in a region that is often thought of as relatively untouched by anthropogenic influences. Here, we use a meta-analytical approach to synthesise research on human disturbance to wildlife over the last three decades in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic region. We combine data from 62 studies across 21 species on the behavioural, physiological and population responses of wildlife to pedestrian, vehicle and research disturbances. The overall effect size indicated a small, albeit statistically significant negative effect of disturbance (-0.39; 95% CI: -0.60 to -0.18). Negative effects were found for both physiological and population responses, but no evidence was found for a significant impact on wil...Continue Reading

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