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Horm Behav. 2010 Nov;58(5):792-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.08.001. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Human disturbance alters endocrine and immune responses in the Galapagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus).

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA. sfrench@biology.usu.edu

Abstract

Anthropogenic disturbance is a relevant and widespread facilitator of environmental change and there is clear evidence that it impacts natural populations. While population-level responses to major anthropogenic changes have been well studied, individual physiological responses to mild disturbance can be equally critical to the long-term survival of a species, yet they remain largely unexamined. The current study investigated the impact of seemingly low-level anthropogenic disturbance (ecotourism) on stress responsiveness and specific fitness-related immune measures in different breeding stages of the marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). Specifically, we found stress-induced elevations in plasma corticosterone among tourist-exposed populations relative to undisturbed populations. We also found changes in multiple immunological responses associated with stress-related effects of human disturbance, including bacterial killing ability, cutaneous wound healing, and hemolytic complement activity, and the responses varied according to reproductive state. By identifying health-related consequences of human disturbance, this study provides critical insight into the conservation of a well-known species that has a very distinct ecology. The study also broadens the foundation of knowledge needed to understand the global significance of various levels of human disturbance.

PMID:
20708010
PMCID:
PMC2982938
DOI:
10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.08.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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