Animal temperament and human disturbance: Implications for the response of wildlife to tourism

J G A Martin, D Réale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Studies on the response of wildlife to human disturbance generally focus on demographic changes or on physiological and behavioural modifications directly related to stress response. Yet fewer studies have explored whether the distribution of individual animals in response to human disturbance is influenced by temperament. Temperament represents the consistency of responses of individuals in reaction to novel or challenging situations. Individuals are thus assumed to express highly consistent behaviour-hormonal response under specific stress conditions. In this study, we investigate the relations between exploration, grooming-scanning continuum, emotionality, and docility of individual Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) and location of their burrow respective to frequentation by humans. We then assess the relationship between cortisol accumulated in the hair and both temperament and frequentation by humans. Explorative or docile chipmunks were more common in frequented areas. Hair cortisol increased with docility, but was not related to human frequentation. These results indicate that temperament may cause animals to distribute themselves in a non-random way in response to human disturbance. Integrating temperament into studies of the stress response of wildlife to humans could therefore help us understand the impact of tourism on wildlife
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jun 2007
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Eastern chipmunk
  • hair cortisol
  • hole-board test
  • temperament trait
  • tourism exposure


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