Tammy L. Cloutier, Ph.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Lisabeth L. Willey, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Beth A. Kaplin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Gregory S. A. Rasmussen, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Anthony J. Giordano, Ph.D., Committee Member


ecotourism, recreation ecology, human disturbance, Zimbabwe, reintroduction, husbandry, diet, growth, anthropogenic disturbance, painted wolf, Africa, carnivore, endangered species, in-situ, ex-situ, conservation biology, wildlife conservation

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Anthropogenic activity has been documented to have negative impacts on wildlife that include altered behaviors, lower body mass, and decreased reproductive success. Although wildlife viewing provides support for conservation efforts, it is also one of many human recreational activities that pose a threat to wildlife. The painted dog (Lycaon pictus) is a popular species for viewing by tourists, and one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores. Anthropogenic-based actions such as persecution, snaring, diseases transmitted via domestic dogs, and habitat fragmentation contribute to their decline, and human disturbance at den sites, primarily via tourism, is an emergent threat for this species. I explored the potential effects of direct and indirect human activity on painted dogs during their denning season using a mixed method approach for free-ranging and captive populations. This included: (a) identifying areas where humans visited painted dog dens using social media posts and content analysis, (b) developing and testing a noninvasive measurement tool (belly score) to assess the body condition of painted dogs via images, (c) comparing carnivore and herbivore activity on human-modified game trails and unmodified game trails using camera traps, and (d) comparing feeding regimens and morphometric measurements between two captive painted dog litters. Results from this study showed that (a) painted dog dens have been visited by humans in at least seven of the 14 countries where painted dogs are known to exist, with the majority of visits reported in South Africa, (b) belly score means differed significantly between two populations of painted dogs (Hwange National Park and Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe) while seasonal variations were similar for both populations; demonstrating how this tool may be used to assess body condition, foraging success, and fitness between and among individuals and populations, (c) carnivores were observed on human-modified trails more frequently than unmodified trails, and herbivores were observed on unmodified trails more frequently than modified trails, though neither relationship was significant. Time of day each group was observed on both types of trails did differ significantly: carnivores were observed more frequently in the evening/overnight hours, and although herbivores were observed at similar levels during morning and mid-day hours, carnivore observations decreased during mid-day hours. (d) Limb length and body length ratios differed significantly between the two captive litters, suggesting that how animals are fed may have an influence on growth in human-managed wildlife populations, with implications for those individuals targeted for release into the wild or free-ranging populations facing food stress. Results from each aspect of this study can be used to inform wildlife managers, policy makers, the tourism sector, conservation professionals, and zoological facilities to assist with the management of this species and minimize impacts of human recreation. Further research is highly recommended for all topics discussed.


Tammy L. Cloutier

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0001-8273-286X