CIE Spotlight: Ecotourism increases the field metabolic rate of whitetip reef sharks

Adam B.

Adam B.

Authors: Barnett, Adam; Payne, Nicholas L.; Semmens, Jayson M.; Fitzpatrick, Richard

Source: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 199 132-136, JUL 2016

Brief summary of the paper: Wildlife tourism has been shown to cause behavioural changes to numerous species. Yet, there is still little understanding if behavioural changes have consequences for health and fitness.

The current study combined accelerometry and respirometry to show that provisioning whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) for tourism increases their daily energy expenditure by elevating activity levels during periods when they normally rest. Field metabolic rate increased by 6.37% on provisioning days compared to non-provisioning days.

Since metabolism is a key parameter influencing most biological and ecological processes, this represents some of the clearest evidence to date that ecotourism can impact critical biological functions in wild animals.