Behavioral responses of vicuñas to human activities at priority feeding sites associated with roads in the highland desert of northern Chile

Nicolás Fuentes-Allende, Claudio S Quilodrán, Andrés Jofré, Benito A González


Human activities associated with roads are frequently perceived to be negative for ungulates in arid environments because they may affect the use of feeding areas. Here, we focused on the behavior of vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), which feeds in four different, high-altitude wetlands affected by human activities (tourism, ranching, poaching and undisturbed). The results showed that vicuñas were more abundant and had higher feeding rates and lower flight distances in wetlands with tourism than in the other wetlands, suggesting that they have become desensitized to the presence of people at these sites. Management Implication: Noninvasive tourism could help safeguard wild ungulates.


Andean puna, feeding use, human disturbance, predation risk perception, roadside disturbance, tourism, Vicugna vicugna mensalis.

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