Rovers minimize human disturbance in research on wild animals

Nat Methods. 2014 Dec;11(12):1242-4. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3173. Epub 2014 Nov 2.


Investigating wild animals while minimizing human disturbance remains an important methodological challenge. When approached by a remote-operated vehicle (rover) which can be equipped to make radio-frequency identifications, wild penguins had significantly lower and shorter stress responses (determined by heart rate and behavior) than when approached by humans. Upon immobilization, the rover-unlike humans-did not disorganize colony structure, and stress rapidly ceased. Thus, rovers can reduce human disturbance of wild animals and the resulting scientific bias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Human Activities*
  • Humans
  • Robotics*
  • Spheniscidae / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological*