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Take only pictures, leave only...fear? The effects of photography on the West Indian anole Anolis cristatellus

Author(s): Brian HUANG, Katie LUBARSKY, Tiffany TENG, Daniel T. BLUMSTEIN

Journal: Current Zoology
ISSN 1674-5507

Volume: 57;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 77;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Antipredator Behavior | Ecotourism | Photography | Anoles | Multimodal Risk Assessment

Ecotourism encourages an environmentally friendly exploration of the world's natural habitats. Tourists often engage in wildlife photography, an activity that is generally not considered disturbing to animals. We investigated the effects of camera-related stimuli to determine whether shutter noise and/or flash affected the immediate behavior of female crested anoles Anolis cristaellus. Anoles decreased their display rate following stimuli that included shutter noises, but did not change their behavior in response to flash or silence treatments. To determine the relative importance of this response, we observed anole behavior following playbacks of calls from kestrels Falco sparverius, a predator, and bananaquits Coereba flaveola, a non-predator. Anoles decreased display rates following kestrel calls when compared to their response to bananaquit calls. Furthermore, anoles spent a greater proportion of time displaying following bananaquit calls compared to both kestrel calls and silence. The magnitude of response to shutter noises was about the same as that to predator calls. This demonstrates that photography may not be as benign as commonly believed, and we should consider whether restrictions on camera noises should be implemented to reduce animal disturbance [Current Zoology 57 (1): 77–82, 2011].
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