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: Conservation scientists asking wrong questions on climate change impacts on wildlife

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hoverbike drone project for air transport takes off

7 hours ago

What happens when you cross a helicopter with a motorbike? The crew at Malloy Aeronautics has been focused on a viable answer and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its Hoverbike project, "The ...

Study indicates large raptors in Africa used for bushmeat

7 hours ago

Bushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates ...

'Shocking' underground water loss in US drought

8 hours ago

A major drought across the western United States has sapped underground water resources, posing a greater threat to the water supply than previously understood, scientists said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

18 hours ago

In a paper published online today in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, Northeastern researchers Evan Kodra and Auroop Ganguly found that while global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variab ...

Peru's carbon quantified: Economic and conservation boon

18 hours ago

Today scientists unveiled the first high-resolution map of the carbon stocks stored on land throughout the entire country of Perú. The new and improved methodology used to make the map marks a sea change ...

How might climate change affect our food supply?

19 hours ago

It's no easy question to answer, but prudence demands that we try. Thus, Microsoft and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to tackle "food resilience," one of several themes ...

Groundwater is safe in potential N.Y. fracking area

20 hours ago

Two Cornell hydrologists have completed a thorough groundwater examination of drinking water in a potential hydraulic fracturing area in New York's Southern Tier. They determined that drinking water in potable ...

User comments : 0