Investigating the use of GIS for monitoring visitor effects and enclosure use of captive birds in a mixed species, free-ranging aviary at Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa FL.
Visitor effects and enclosure use were examined in a mixed species free-ranging exhibit using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within the Main Aviary at Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa FL. Scan sampling was used to track the location of 24 bird species (n = 98) within the aviary, visitor numbers, noise levels and weather conditions. Results revealed that birds responded to increasing visitors by moving further away from the path, decreasing range sizes and increasing use of ground vegetation cover. However, lack of interference with behaviour patterns suggests that the birds are not experiencing negative welfare consequences, and that instead these responses are coping mechanisms used to reduce the effects of increasing visitor numbers. It was determined that factors such as weather condition, habitat preference and territoriality further play a role in influencing the space selectivity of the birds. Overall, GIS was determined to be an effective tool for examining these effects.