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Population, behavioural and physiological responses of an urban population of black swans to an intense annual noise event

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by C J Payne, Tim Jessop, Patrick GuayPatrick Guay, M Johnstone, M Feore, R A Mulder
Wild animals in urban environments are exposed to a broad range of human activities that have the potential to disturb their life history and behaviour. Wildlife responses to disturbance can range from emigration to modified behaviour, or elevated stress, but these responses are rarely evaluated in concert. We simultaneously examined population, behavioural and hormonal responses of an urban population of black swans Cygnus atratus before, during and after an annual disturbance event involving large crowds and intense noise, the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Black swan population numbers were lowest one week before the event and rose gradually over the course of the study, peaking after the event, suggesting that the disturbance does not trigger mass emigration. We also found no difference in the proportion of time spent on key behaviours such as locomotion, foraging, resting or self-maintenance over the course of the study. However, basal and capture stress-induced corticosterone levels showed significant variation, consistent with a modest physiological response. Basal plasma corticosterone levels were highest before the event and decreased over the course of the study. Capture-induced stress levels peaked during the Grand Prix and then also declined over the remainder of the study. Our results suggest that even intensely noisy and apparently disruptive events may have relatively low measurable short-term impact on population numbers, behaviour or physiology in urban populations with apparently high tolerance to anthropogenic disturbance. Nevertheless, the potential long-term impact of such disturbance on reproductive success, individual fitness and population health will need to be carefully evaluated.

History

Journal

PLoS One

Volume

7

Issue

9

Season

Article Number : e45014

Article number

e45014

Pagination

1 - 9

Publisher

Public Library of Science (PLOS)

Location

San Francisco, Calif.

eISSN

1932-6203

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2012, Public Library of Science (PLOS)