Abstract

Many wild animals are subjected to anthropogenic stressors in the form of direct human disturbances from recreational activities. However, for many species it is unknown how these stressors affect individual fitness and behavior. We tested whether painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), an imperiled freshwater species, would allow closer human approach as measured by the flight initiation distance in the regular presence of humans compared with turtles not exposed to humans. We collected data at a site closed to recreation and at one with regular recreation and found that painted turtles regularly exposed to the presence of humans had significantly shorter average flight initiation distances compared with those at the nonrecreation site. The ability of turtles to tolerate closer human approaches in recreational areas may allow turtle populations to coexist in the presence of some recreational uses.

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