Date of Award
Master of Science
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The capacity for human-wildlife conflict is increasing as anthropogenic development continues to expand across the planet. Many species of wildlife experience adverse anthropogenic effects on their behavior, life history, and ecology. Behavioral changes often manifest as shifts in antipredator behavior, indicating that human presence is salient to the risk perception of wildlife. We used ungulates as a model system to study how human activity affects vigilance behavior—one of the most commonly studied antipredator behaviors. A vigilant individual scans its surroundings with the intent of obtaining information about its environment. We conducted a systematic review of studies in which ungulate vigilance was measured in the context of anthropogenic effects. In the majority of sources, human activity was associated with increased vigilance in ungulates. Notably, human-wildlife conflict is the result of behavioral patterns of both humans and wildlife, and the resulting consequences affect both. Thus, studying human behavior is also key to mitigating potential conflict. To explore the role of human behavior more explicitly, we developed a survey instrument to pinpoint how visitors to Glacier National Park perceived their interactions with wildlife in the park and the degree to which they saw their presence affecting the resident species. The average visitor was aware that their activities can affect wildlife; however, agreement with this statement was affected by demographic factors and general views on wildlife welfare. Our systematic review showed that human activity has largely adverse effects on ungulate taxa across the globe. Our survey served as a complementary case study focusing on this conflict within the context of Glacier National Park, wherein visitors differentially recognized their impacts on wildlife. Mitigating human-wildlife conflict will continue to require both studies of wildlife behavioral ecology and research on the human dimensions of conservation and management.
Johnson, Benjamin, "Ungulate and human risk perception in shared environments" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17960.