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New approach gauges recreation’s potential impact on wildlife

Cara J

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Millions of recreationists take to the trails of America’s natural spaces every year to hike, bike, ski and picnic, but even if they take only photographs and leave only footprints, these visitors have the potential to negatively affect wildlife. Borrowing from landscape ecology, scientists have outlined a novel approach to model and mitigate non-consumptive recreation disturbance to sensitive species. “There are all kinds of ways the presence of people in the environment can influence wildlife,” said Kevin Gutzwiller, lead author on the paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Humans engaging in non-consumptive recreational activities in natural areas can displace many animals from their habitat, raise their caloric expenditure, damage their resources, attract their predators, disrupt their behavior and decrease their survival, said Gutzwiller, a Baylor University biology professor. Past research has looked at these disturbances, he said, but at scales much smaller than most animals’ territories. Consequently, current management approaches may be off the mark — managers may be over- or under-estimating the level of recreation disturbance depending on the situation, he said. “We wanted to start assessing and trying to manage wildland recreation disturbance at broader spatial scales,” Gutzwiller said. To do so, his team turned to [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/new-approach-gauges-recreations-potential-impact-on-wildlife/

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