Rovers minimize human disturbance in research on wild animals
Yvon Le Maho, Jason D Whittington et al. in Nature Methods
Yvon Le Maho, Jason D Whittington, Nicolas Hanuise, Louise Pereira, Matthieu Boureau, Mathieu Brucker, Nicolas Chatelain, Julien Courtecuisse, Francis Crenner, Benjamin Friess, Edith Grosbellet, Laëtitia Kernaléguen, Frédérique Olivier, Claire Saraux, Nathanaël Vetter, Vincent A Viblanc, Bernard Thierry, Pascale Tremblay, René Groscolas and Céline Le Bohec
Investigating wild animals while minimizing human disturbance remains an important methodological challenge. When approached by a remote-operated vehicle (rover) which can be equipped to make radio-frequency identifications, wild penguins had significantly lower and shorter stress responses (determined by heart rate and behavior) than when approached by humans. Upon immobilization, the rover—unlike humans—did not disorganize colony structure, and stress rapidly ceased. Thus, rovers can reduce human disturbance of wild animals and the resulting scientific bias.