Ski tourism stressing capercaillie

Mar 03, 2008

Ski tourism is raising stress levels among capercaillie, which could harm the birds’ fitness and ability to breed successfully, ecologists have found. Writing in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers warn that forests should be kept free from tourism infrastructure if they are inhabited by capercaillie - a species whose numbers are declining markedly across central Europe.

The study by ecologists from Switzerland, Germany and Austria used a new technique to assess the impact of ski tourism on capercaillie. Working in the Southern Black Forest in Germany, they collected the birds’ droppings before and after the start of the ski season, and analysed them for levels of the breakdown products of the stress hormone corticosterone. They found that levels of the breakdown products of the stress hormone were significantly higher in birds living in areas with moderate or high levels of ski tourism.

One of the study's authors, Dr Lukas Jenni of the Swiss Ornithological Institute says: “Ski tourism affects both habitat use and stress hormone levels in capercaillie, and this could adversely affect their body condition and overall fitness. Because of this, we recommend that managers keep forests inhabited by capercaillie free from tourism infrastructure and retain undisturbed forest patches within skiing areas.”

According to Dr Jenni: “The level of winter sport activity and the introduction of new outdoor sports such as snow shoeing has increased drastically during the last decade and affects essential habitats or retreats for a number of rare or shy species such as black grouse and chamois. Human recreation activities in winter could be especially harmful to capercaillie because of the birds' reliance on a diet of low-quality conifer needles. Body condition at the end of winter has been shown to affect reproduction success of the related rock ptarmigan.”

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Explore further: Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Winter sports threaten indigenous mountain birds

Jan 11, 2011

In the winter months, the mountain ranges of central Europe attract thousands of tourists for skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports, but conservationists fear this annual invasion may threaten indigenous bird species, ...

Recommended for you

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

22 hours ago

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

New challenges for ocean acidification research

Dec 19, 2014

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

Dec 19, 2014

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.