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Assessing the impact of capture on wild animals: the case study of chemical immobilisation on alpine ibex

Brivio, Francesca and Grignolio, Stefano and Sica, Nicoletta and Cerise, Stefano and Bassano, Bruno (2015) Assessing the impact of capture on wild animals: the case study of chemical immobilisation on alpine ibex. PLoS One, Vol. 10 (6), e0130957. ISSN 1932-6203. Article.

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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130957

Abstract

The importance of capturing wild animals for research and conservation projects is widely shared. As this activity continues to become more common, the need to assess its negative effects increases so as to ensure ethical standards and the validity of research results. Increasing evidence has revealed that indirect (physiological and behavioural) effects of capture are as important as direct risks (death or injury) and that different capture methodologies can cause heterogeneous effects. We investigated the influence of chemical immobilisation on Alpine ibex (Capra ibex): during the days following the capture we collected data on spatial behaviour, activity levels of both males and females, and male hormone levels. Moreover, we recorded the reproductive status of each marked female during the breeding seasons of 15 years. Then, by several a priori models we investigated the effects of the capture taking into account biological factors and changes in environmental conditions. Our results showed that chemical immobilisation did not affect either spatial behaviour (for both males and females) or male hormone levels, though both sexes showed reduced activity levels up to two days after the capture. The capture did not significantly affect the likelihood for a female to give birth in the following summer. Our findings highlighted the scarce impact of chemical immobilisation on ibex biology, as we detected alteration of activity levels only immediately after the capture if compared to the following days (i.e., baseline situation). Hence, the comparison of our findings with previous research showed that our methodology is one of the less invasive procedures to capture large mammals. Nonetheless, in areas characterised by high predator density, we suggest that animals released be carefully monitored for some hours after the capture. Moreover, researchers should avoid considering data collected during the first days after the manipulation in order to avoid biased information.

Item Type:Article
ID Code:11770
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords:Metabolites, hormones, deer, hydrocortisone, death rates, animal behavior, wildlife, sedatives
Subjects:Area 05 - Scienze biologiche > BIO/05 Zoologia
Divisions:001 Università di Sassari > 01-a Nuovi Dipartimenti dal 2012 > Scienze della Natura e del Territorio
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1932-6203
Copyright Holders:© 2015 Brivio et al.
Deposited On:15 Jun 2017 08:56

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