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Feature Article

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Human-induced changes to natural landscapes have become ubiquitous, resulting in exposure of wildlife populations to novel stressors (Munns 2006). While it is clear that changes such as habitat loss can directly impact wildlife species, less clear is the extent to which human presence itself functions as a disturbance that influences wildlife behaviors with important fitness consequences. Animals clearly respond to perceived risk of predation by natural predators via, for example, fleeing, or altering foraging and/or breeding habitat selection (Marzluff 1988, Hakkarainen et al. 2001, Frid and Dill2002, Blumstein 2006, Borkowski et al. 2006, Fontaine and Martin 2006). Such responses can alter access to important resources, energy budgets, and therefore attributes such as body condition (Bechet et al. 2004) with potential impacts to survival and reproductive output. Of critical importance to the management of wildlife populations is therefore to determine 1) whether wildlife species perceive human presence as predation risk, 2) how individuals respond to such risk, and 3) how such responses influence fitness consequences and therefore population dynamics and community structure.