You are what you eat: examining the effects of provisioning tourism on shark diets

Abrantes, Kátya G., Brunnschweiler, Juerg M., and Barnett, Adam (2018) You are what you eat: examining the effects of provisioning tourism on shark diets. Biological Conservation, 224. pp. 300-308.

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Wildlife tourism is a growing industry, with significant conservation and socio-economic benefits. Concerns have however been raised about the possible impacts of this industry on the long-term behaviour, health and fitness of the animal species tourists come to see (the target species), particularly when those species are regularly fed to improve the tourism experience. Information on the contribution of food rewards to the diet of the target species at feeding sites is critical to assess the dependency on handouts and to identify possible health/fitness problems that might be associated, if handouts become the main part of animals' diets. Here, we use stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) to evaluate the importance of handouts for a marine predator, the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), at a feeding site (Fiji) where shark feeds occur 5 days/week and sharks (up to 75 individuals/dive) are fed ~200 kg of tuna heads/day. There was no evidence of incorporation of food provided, even for individuals that regularly consume food rewards. Results, when combined with those from previous studies on bull shark movements and feeding rates at our study site, show that current levels of provisioning likely have no long-term impacts on bull shark diet or behaviour. This study also demonstrates the applicability of stable isotope analysis to assess and monitor the contribution of food rewards to wildlife, and highlights the benefits of using multi-sources of information to gain a holistic understanding of the effects of provisioning predators.

Item ID: 54559
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: Bayesian mixing models; conservation; ecotourism management; shark; stable isotope analysis; wildlife provisioning
Funders: Winifred Violet Scott Foundation
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 05:54
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4105 Pollution and contamination > 410599 Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
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