Effects of tourists giving food to endangered Iguanas

02 March 2014 - By: Steven Cooke

Effects of Tourists giving food to endangered Iguanas

Photo: Charles Knapp (John G. Shedd Aquarium)

By Dr Steven J. Cook

The journal Conservation Physiology has a dual role: 1) serve as a venue for the publication of high quality science relevant to conservation and 2) to ensure that findings end up in the hands of managers, policy makers and the general public such that they provide evidence to support conservation action. 

Most scientific journals start and end with the former. Here at Conservation Physiology we envisioned more transparent and simple communication lines to stakeholders from the very beginning. There are many ways to do so, with social media being an obvious one. However, more traditional media and the press releases still play important roles in getting the message out. We were fortunate to receive significant media attention for a recent paper authored by Charles Knapp from the Shedd Aquarium and other colleagues. 

The paper examined the physiological consequences of tourists giving food to endangered iguanas in The Bahamas. The authors revealed that the tourists’ propensity to feed grapes to iguanas resulted in nutritional deficiencies which could influence the health and survival of the long-lived Bahamian rock iguanas. The Huffington Post published a story titled “To Feed or Not to Feed Wildlife”(1) and the Scientific American Blog took it one step further with the catchy title “Tourists Are Giving Endangered Iguanas Diarrhea and High Cholesterol” (2) . 

Part of the marketing strategy for the new journal involves identifying articles of potential interest to stakeholders and pitching them to the media. So keep your eyes peeled for future media splashes featuring exciting content from the pages of Conservation Physiology. 

1. Huffington Post
2. Scientific American blogs


Category: Animal Biology
Steven Cooke

Dr Steven J. Cooke

Dr Steven J. Cooke is a Canada Research Chair in Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada).  Cooke received his PhD from the University of Illinois in Urbana in 2002 and was then an NSERC and Killam Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia before he joined the professoriate in 2005.  He has diverse research interests in topics such as animal physiology, behavioural ecology, resource management, conservation science, and knowledge mobilization. Cooke is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the SEB/OUP journal “Conservation Physiology”.