Human protection drives the emergence of a new coping style in animals

Human protection New coping style Animals


Wild animals face novel environmental threats from human activities that may occur along a gradient of interactions with humans. Recent work has shown that merely living close to humans has major implications for a variety of antipredator traits and physiological responses. Here, we hypothe that when human presence protects prey from their genuine predators (as sometimes seen in urban areas and at some tourist sites), this predator shield, followed by a process of habituation to humans, decouples commonly associated traits related to coping styles, which results in a new range of phenotypes. Such individuals are characterized by low aggressiveness and physiological stress responses, but have enhanced behavioral plasticity, boldness, and cognitive abilities. We refer to these individuals as “preactive,” because their physiological and behavioral coping style falls outside the classical proactive/reactive coping styles. While there is some support for this new coping style, formal multivariate studies are required to investigate behavioral and physiological responses to anthropogenic activities.