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Cone opsins and response of female chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) to differently coloured raincoats


Raveh, S; van Dongen, W F D; Grimm, C; Ingold, P (2012). Cone opsins and response of female chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) to differently coloured raincoats. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 58(5):811-819.

Abstract

Alpine species are often exposed to intense levels of human recreational activities. Exactly how human disturbances influence the behaviour of these species is still open to much debate. For example, little is known regarding how the colourful clothing often worn by tourists influences the behaviour of animals. Tourists wearing colourful clothing may be more conspicuous to local wildlife and thus cause more disturbances. We therefore investigated this question in female chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) in the Swiss Alps. We firstly investigated, via a morphological and an immunohistochemical approach, whether chamois are likely to have colour vision and would therefore be more likely to respond to different coloured clothing. We detected evidence of two cone types—short-wavelength-sensitive cones (S-cones, JH 455) and middle-wavelength-sensitive cones (M-cones, JH492) in the chamois retina—suggesting that chamois have dichromatic vision, similar to other ungulates. Secondly, via behavioural assays where a person wearing one of three coloured coats commonly worn by tourists (red, yellow and blue) approached a female chamois, we show that neither the alert and flight initiation distance nor the site of refuge were influenced by the raincoat colour. In addition, behavioural responses of the chamois were neither influenced by animal group size nor the presence of kids nor the time of the experiment. The results suggest that, although chamois possess colour vision, they do not react more strongly towards conspicuous colours worn by hikers. We discuss our results in light of what is already known about chamois biology and suggest implications for future studies.

Alpine species are often exposed to intense levels of human recreational activities. Exactly how human disturbances influence the behaviour of these species is still open to much debate. For example, little is known regarding how the colourful clothing often worn by tourists influences the behaviour of animals. Tourists wearing colourful clothing may be more conspicuous to local wildlife and thus cause more disturbances. We therefore investigated this question in female chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) in the Swiss Alps. We firstly investigated, via a morphological and an immunohistochemical approach, whether chamois are likely to have colour vision and would therefore be more likely to respond to different coloured clothing. We detected evidence of two cone types—short-wavelength-sensitive cones (S-cones, JH 455) and middle-wavelength-sensitive cones (M-cones, JH492) in the chamois retina—suggesting that chamois have dichromatic vision, similar to other ungulates. Secondly, via behavioural assays where a person wearing one of three coloured coats commonly worn by tourists (red, yellow and blue) approached a female chamois, we show that neither the alert and flight initiation distance nor the site of refuge were influenced by the raincoat colour. In addition, behavioural responses of the chamois were neither influenced by animal group size nor the presence of kids nor the time of the experiment. The results suggest that, although chamois possess colour vision, they do not react more strongly towards conspicuous colours worn by hikers. We discuss our results in light of what is already known about chamois biology and suggest implications for future studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Ophthalmology Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:04 Sep 2012 13:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:56
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1439-0574
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-012-0629-z
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-64501

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