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Primates' behavioural responses to tourists : evidence for a tradeoff between potential risks and benefits.

Marechal, Laetitia and MacLarnon, Ann and Majolo, Bonaventura and Semple, Stuart (2016) 'Primates' behavioural responses to tourists : evidence for a tradeoff between potential risks and benefits.', Scientific reports., 6 . p. 32465.


The presence of, and interactions with tourists can be both risky and beneficial for wild animals. In wildlife tourism settings, animals often experience elevated rates of aggression from conspecifics, and they may also be threatened or physically aggressed by the tourists themselves. However, tourist provisioning of wild animals provides them with highly desirable foods. In situations of conflicting motivations such as this, animals would be expected to respond using behavioural coping mechanisms. In the present study, we investigated how animals respond to tourist pressure, using wild adult Barbary macaques in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Morocco, as a case study. We found evidence that these animals use a range of different behavioural coping mechanisms–physical avoidance, social support, affiliative, aggressive and displacement behaviours–to cope with the stress associated with tourists. The pattern of use of such behaviours appears to depend on a trade-off between perceived risks and potential benefits. We propose a framework to describe how animals respond to conflicting motivational situations, such as the presence of tourists, that present simultaneously risks and benefits.

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Publisher statement:© The Author(s) 2016. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:09 August 2016
Date deposited:28 August 2018
Date of first online publication:15 September 2016
Date first made open access:28 August 2018

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