The effect of anthropogenic noise on foraging and vigilance in zoo housed pied tamarins

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Fiene Steinbrecher, Jacob C. Dunn, Eluned C. Price, Lisa H. Buck, Claudia A. F. Wascher, Fay E. Clark
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
, , , ,

The phenomenon of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) is a great challenge in the modern world that presents a threat to all species. Research on the effect of anthropogenic noise on free-living wildlife is increasing but the effect of anthropogenic noise on the behaviour and welfare of captive wildlife has received limited attention, even though captive settings are full of human activity and a wide range of sounds. Moreover, studies in captivity tend to classify noise subjectively by volume according to human hearing and as part of the overall ‘visitor effect’ rather than a stressor in its own right. Research on free-living wildlife suggests that anthropogenic noise can negatively impact foraging behaviour; similar impacts in captive species could have a detrimental effect on their health and welfare if animals cannot perform functional feeding behaviours and access adequate nutrition. In the current study, we designed a forage box experiment for captive pied tamarins, a Critically Endangered callitrichid primate species that is prone to poor physical health and breeding success in captivity. Ten pairs of tamarins housed at Jersey Zoo were provided with a forage box containing cryptic (hidden) prey items (waxworms). Using a within-subjects design, tamarins were provided access to the forage box in noise and non-noise conditions of anthropogenic noise (machinery used for gardening in the zoo). Both active (foraging with the hands) and observational (looking into the forage box) foraging were significantly less frequent in the presence of anthropogenic noise; however, there was no difference in the duration of these behaviours or in foraging success. Furthermore, the presence of anthropogenic noise did not significantly affect vigilance behaviour. We found no sex differences in the effect of noise, and our results suggest that the anthropogenic noise we tested was only a minimal distractor for tamarins. However, large individual differences in foraging suggest that other factors may have a larger impact on foraging than the anthropogenic noise used in this experiment. More research into how captive animals may respond to the presence of anthropogenic noise is needed.


Back to Resources