Year of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Wildlife Biology

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Creagh W. Breuner

Committee Co-chair

Elizabeth C. Metcalf

Commitee Members

Michael S. Mitchell, F. Richard Hauer, Erick Greene

Keywords

conservation physiology, human dimensions of wildlife, fecal glucocorticoids, wildlife attitudes, recreation impacts, integrative wildlife planning

Publisher

University of Montana

Subject Categories

Biology | Cognitive Psychology | Natural Resources and Conservation | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences | Physiology

Abstract

Recreational aviation on public lands may negatively impact wildlife. However, land-use decisions need to balance user need with wildlife impact. We know very little about 1) how back country airstrip use affects local wildlife, or 2) attitudes and perceptions of recreational pilots toward possible management actions. For my Master’s research, I investigated how aircraft activity influenced physiological measures of stress in white-tailed deer, while also modeling how psychometrics such as wildlife attitudes and place attachment predict the willingness of recreational pilots engage in impact-mitigating behaviors. I measured physiological stress through non-invasive sampling of stress hormones in fecal samples (fecal glucocorticoid metabolites: FGM). My results suggest that neither air traffic rates nor amount of human presence at recreation sites explained variation in FGM; however, much of the variation in deer FGM can be explained by abiotic factors such as wind velocity and precipitation. A quantitative survey of recreational pilots revealed that more positive attitudes toward wildlife were associated with greater support for impact-mitigating behaviors, while stronger place attachment to airstrips resulted in more negative attitudes toward these behaviors. Viewing recreation areas as socio-ecological systems calls for a multi-disciplinary approach, and employing biological and social science to study anthropogenic impacts on wildlife is the conceptual basis for integrative wildlife planning. By investigating organismal responses of wildlife to recreational aviation and attitudes of this user group, my aim was to provide an initial look into the impacts of recreational aviation within the framework of integrative wildlife planning.

 

© Copyright 2016 Devin W. Landry