Stress physiological responses to tourist pressure in a wild population of European pine marten

Isabel Barja, Gema Silván, Stefano Rosellini, Ana Piñeiro, Alfredo González-Gil, Laura Camacho, Juan Carlos Illera

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75 Citations (Scopus)


The tourist pressure in natural parks is a potential source of stress and may cause an increase in the adrenal activity of wild populations of European pine marten (Martes martes). Seventy-six faecal samples were collected during 15 months in a natural park of Northwest Spain. Analysis of faecal DNA was used for the specific identification using the PCR-RFLPs technique. Faecal steroid determinations were performed by EIA. Natural park was divided in three areas: free entry, restricted area, and integral reservation, and number of daily human visitors recorded. Faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels (ng/g dry faeces) were significantly higher in spring (56.36 ± 19.62) and summer (31.27 ± 11.98) compared to autumn (15.33 ± 6.89) and winter (11.13 ± 3.30). These data are closely related to daily number of visitors (spring: 3204, summer: 1672, winter: 646, autumn: 551). Androgen, progestin and oestrogen levels were also significantly higher in spring (reproductive season) showing values of 43.62 ± 18.6, 154.31 ± 53.50 and 829.62 ± 456.1, respectively. Glucocorticoid levels were significantly lower in integral reservation (15.95 ± 3.56) compared to restricted (31.4 ± 16.30) and free entry areas (41.59 ± 12.73), respectively. Wild populations of European pine marten showed stress physiological response induced by the tourist pressure and this response is higher during reproductive season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-142
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Enzyme immunoassay
  • European pine marten
  • Faecal steroids
  • Stress
  • Tourist pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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