Tourist influence on social behavior of feral horses.
Committee: Bob Eckstein, JJ Apodaca, Paul Bartels
The aim of this study was to answer whether or not the substantial tourist presence on Shackleford Banks affected the social behavior of the feral horses that reside there. Several studies have shown that human presence and interaction with wild populations of social animals can change their behavior. Between the months of June and July in the year 2015, data was collected in order to answer this question. The study found that tourist presence was not a strong indicator of behavioral differences (p =0.7788). The study did, however, find that of all the response variables, Olfactory Communication was the one that showed the most variation between tourist presence and absence. Though a clear answer was not found, as a pilot test this study was able to inform the National Park Service on effective methods for analyzing effects of tourist presence on the horses’ behavior.