When approached in their nest, Magellanic Penguins turn their heads back and forth, looking at the approacher with one eye and then both. When stressed, the increase in their hormones facilitates their ability to escape or outlast the situation. As stated, the results show no short-term negative impact of human visits, but long-term effects have not been reported. "These long-term consequences are much harder to document, especially in long-lived animals such as Magellanic Penguins," the authors conclude. "Our data shows that quantifying the consequences of human disturbances on wildlife is rarely simple and straightforward."
Magellanic Penguins nest in coastal colonies along the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans of South America. The penguins in the study live in the largest and most visited colony of Magellanic Penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina. More than 70,000 people now visit annually.
This study is in the February issue of Conservation Biology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation Biology is a top-ranked journal in the fields of Ecology and Environmental Science and has been called, "required reading for ecologists throughout the world." It is published on behalf of the Society for Conservation Biology.
Lead author Brian G. Walker is an assistant professor in the Biology at Gonzaga University. He has been published in numerous journals. This study was done while Professor Walker was at the University of Washington, Seattle. Professor Walker is available for media interviews and questions.
P. Dee Boersma and John C. Wingfield co-authored the study.
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and, to date, has published more than 6,000 books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.