[MARMAM] New publication

Simon Allen S.Allen at murdoch.edu.au
Tue Jul 7 21:53:28 PDT 2009

Dear friends and colleagues,
We are pleased to notify you of our recent publication in Marine Ecology Progress Series. The short essay is a contribution to the forthcoming theme section 'Acoustics in marine ecology' (http://www.int-res.com/journals/meps/theme-sections/forthcoming-theme-sections/), but has broader application to impact assessment and research beyond acoustics and including terrestrial ecology. The pre-press abstract is available at http://www.int-res.com/prepress/m07979.html or you can request the full PDF from either of us.
This paper is dedicated to our dearly missed co-author, the late Dr. Amy Samuels.
Kind regards,
Lars (l.bejder at murdoch.edu.au) and Simon (s.allen at murdoch.edu.au)

Bejder, L., Samuels, A., Whitehead, H., Finn, H. and Allen, S. (2009). Impact assessment research: use and misuse of habituation, sensitisation and tolerance in describing wildlife responses to anthropogenic stimuli. Marine Ecology Progress Series. doi: 10.3354/meps07979

ABSTRACT: Studies on the effects of anthropogenic activity on wildlife aim to provide a sound scientific basis for management. However, misinterpretation of the theoretical basis for these studies can jeopardise this objective and lead to management outcomes that are detrimental to the wildlife they are intended to protect. Misapplication of the terms 'habituation', 'sensitisation' and 'tolerance' in impact studies, for example, can lead to fundamental misinterpretations of research findings. Habituation is often used incorrectly to refer to any form of moderation in wildlife response to human disturbance, rather than to describe a progressive reduction in response to stimuli that are perceived as neither aversive nor beneficial. This misinterpretation, when coupled with the widely held assumption that habituation has a positive or neutral outcome for animals, can lead to inappropriate decisions about the threats human interactions pose to wildlife. We review the conceptual framework for the use of habituation, sensitisation and tolerance, and provide a set of principles for their appropriate application in studies of behavioural responses to anthropogenic stimuli. We describe how cases of presumed habituation or sensitisation may actually represent differences in the tolerance levels of wildlife to anthropogenic activity. This distinction is vital because impact studies must address (1) the various mechanisms by which differing tolerance levels can occur; and (2) the range of explanations for habituation and sensitisation-type responses. We show that only one mechanism leads to true behavioural habituation (or sensitisation), while a range of mechanisms can lead to changes in tolerance. 

KEY WORDS: Habituation · Sensitisation · Tolerance · Human disturbance · Wildlife management · Conservation · Impact assessment

Simon Allen
Research Fellow, Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Murdoch University
South St., Murdoch
Western Australia 6150
mob: +61(0) 416 083 653
ph: +61(0)8 9360 2823
fax: +61(0)8 9360 6303
email: s.allen at murdoch.edu.au 
web: http://www.cffr.murdoch.edu.au/mucru/simon_allen.html
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