Stress Physiological Responses To Tourist Pressure

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Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 104 (2007) 136–142

Stress physiological responses to tourist pressure in a wild population of European pine marten
Isabel Barja a , Gema Silv´ n b , Stefano Rosellini c , Ana Pi˜ eiro c , a n b , Laura Camacho b , Juan Carlos Illera b,∗ Alfredo Gonz´ lez-Gil a
a

Departamento de Biolog´a y Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Facultad de CienciasExperimentales, Universidad SEK, Segovia, Spain ı b Departamento de Fisiolog´a (Fisiologia Animal), Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain ı c Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biolog´a Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, ı Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cient´ficas, Madrid, Spain ı

Abstract The tourist pressure in natural parks is a potentialsource of stress and may cause an increase in the adrenal activity of wild populations of European pine marten (Martes martes). Seventy-six faecal samples were collected during 15 months in a natural park of Northwest Spain. Analysis of faecal DNA was used for the specific identification using the PCR-RFLPs technique. Faecal steroid determinations were performed by EIA. Natural park was divided inthree areas: free entry, restricted area, and integral reservation, and number of daily human visitors recorded. Faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels (ng/g dry faeces) were significantly higher in spring (56.36 ± 19.62) and summer (31.27 ± 11.98) compared to autumn (15.33 ± 6.89) and winter (11.13 ± 3.30). These data are closely related to daily number of visitors (spring: 3204, summer: 1672,winter: 646, autumn: 551). Androgen, progestin and oestrogen levels were also significantly higher in spring (reproductive season) showing values of 43.62 ± 18.6, 154.31 ± 53.50 and 829.62 ± 456.1, respectively. Glucocorticoid levels were significantly lower in integral reservation (15.95 ± 3.56) compared to restricted (31.4 ± 16.30) and free entry areas (41.59 ± 12.73), respectively. Wild populationsof European pine marten showed stress physiological response induced by the tourist pressure and this response is higher during reproductive season. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Enzyme immunoassay; European pine marten; Faecal steroids; Stress; Tourist pressure

1. Introduction The classical definition of term stress involves Physiological and neurophysiological changes inan organism [1]. Thus, metabolic, immunological and neuroendocrine mechanisms are involved in the description of stress reaction in physiological terms [2]. It is also well known that in vertebrates habitats are not static and animals have to be adapted to different internal and/or external stimuli known as stressors [3]. An adverse stimulus initiates a cascade of physiological responses and theactivation of hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis

Poster paper presented at the 17th International Symposium of the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ‘Recent Advances in Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’ (Seefeld, Austria, 31 May–03 June 2006). ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 913943865; fax: +34 913943864. E-mail address: jcillera@vet.ucm.es (J.C. Illera).0960-0760/$ – see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2007.03.008

(HPA) with the result of both, glucocorticoid secretion (cortisol/corticosterone) by adrenal cortex [4,5], and the activation of sympatho-medullary system with the release of catecholamines [3]. Glucocorticoids have been used as physiological indicators of animal stress in a wide number ofstudies done in several species [2,5]. Short-term glucocortid secretion has been related to the adaptative response of animals to stressors and it is beneficial for the organism, they are involved in energy mobilisation and in behavioural changes. However, long-term glucocorticoid secretion may lead to some pathological status such as reproductive and/or endocrine disruption, suppression of the immune...
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