Ecotourism helps conserve wildlife by increasing the value of wildlife conservation for local people. In Argentina, the world's largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins is visited by thousands of tourists every year, causing the penguins to become habituated to the presence of people. Has ecotourism affected the penguins' ability to respond to stressors? Has it affected the penguins' secretion of corticosterone?
Scientists tested the hypothesis that penguins habituated to tourists have a blunted stress response overall. They examined the corticosterone response of habituated and non-habituated penguins to another stressor—that of being captured and restrained for 30 minutes. They found that both habituated and non-habituated penguins secreted corticosterone in response to being captured and restrained, but that the level of corticosterone after 30 minutes differed between the groups. The results are shown here (* means P<0.05). Was the hypothesis supported? Explain.
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