Funded Research Projects: WILDLIFE SCIENCE

Impacts of Tour Boat Shore Excursions on Terrestrial Wildlife Glacier Bay National Park

Research Sponsored By: USDI National Park Service
Principal Investigator: Laura Prugh
Project Description
Human disturbance can displace animals and change species composition and diversity. Repeated human disturbance may cause death or reduced reproductive success, particularly in vulnerable animals such as breeding birds. In Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, shore excursions from tour vessels have increased by an order of magnitude over the past eight years. No studies have been conducted to quantify the effects of increased shore excursions by tour vessel passengers on terrestrial wildlife in Glacier Bay. New tour vessel operating plans beginning in 2016 will allow for the designation of “heavy use locations” in Glacier Bay which may see more shore excursions than other locations. The park is responsible for determining where these heavy use locations are and ensuring that significant resource degradation does not occur in these areas. To provide for visitor enjoyment without detriment to natural resources, park managers need to understand the impacts of repeated human use on wildlife species distribution and activity levels. This project will use non-invasive methods to quantify species occupancy and activity levels to compare between sites used for shore excursions versus those that are not and between days when human use occurs versus days in which no human use occurs at the same site. This information will be used in an adaptive management framework to manage tourism in the park, and this research will provide new insights that will improve management of tourism and recreation in other regions as well.