Many animals are shifting from day to night to avoid people

June 14, 2018 by Emiliano Rodriguez Mega
Many animals are shifting from day to night to avoid people
In this Sunday, Nov. 2, 2003 file photo, a coyote wanders through a neighborhood in Cedar Glen, Calif., in the San Bernardino Mountains. Scientists have long known that human activity disrupts nature. And the latest research released on Thursday, June 14, 2018, found fear of humans has caused many species to increase their nighttime activity by 20 percent. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Lions and tigers and bears are increasingly becoming night owls because of us, a new study says.

Scientists have long known that human activity disrupts nature. Besides becoming more vigilant and reducing time spent looking for food, many mammals may travel to remote areas or move around less to avoid contact with people.

The latest research found even activities like hiking and camping can scare and drive them to become more active at .

"It suggests that animals might be playing it safe around people," said Kaitlyn Gaynor, an ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study. "We may think that we leave no trace when we're just hiking in the woods, but our mere presence can have lasting consequences."

Gaynor and her colleagues analyzed 76 studies involving 62 species on six continents. Animals included lions in Tanzania, otters in Brazil, coyotes in California, in Poland and tigers in Nepal.

Researchers compared how much time those creatures spent active at night under different types of human disturbance such as hunting, hiking and farming. On average, the team found that human presence triggered an increase of about 20 percent in nighttime activity, even in animals that aren't night owls.

Results were published Thursday in the journal Science.

The findings are novel because "no one else has compiled all this information and analyzed it in such a ... robust way," said Ana Benitez Lopez of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who reviewed the study.

Marlee Tucker, an ecologist at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany who was not part of the research, was surprised that any kind of is enough for mammals to see people as a threat.

"It's a little bit scary," she said. "Even if people think that we're not deliberately trying to impact animals, we probably are without knowing it."

Gaynor said animals that don't adapt well to the darkness will be affected. But she said that behavioral shift could also help other animals reduce direct encounters with people.

"Humans can do their thing during the day; wildlife can do their thing at night," she said. That way, people would be sharing the planet "with many other species that are just taking the night shift while we're sleeping."

Explore further: Humans may influence cancer in many other species on the planet

More information: K.M. Gaynor el al., "The influence of human disturbance on wildlife nocturnality," Science (2018). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aar7121

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5 comments

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Mark Thomas
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2018
Rising temperatures are a confounding factor and another way people drive some animals towards being nocturnal.
Anonym
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2018
I don't think any wild animals (except climate scientists of course) can detect a temperature increase of 0.5 C. Also, there is no help from the night --- what is warming (data wise) are overnight low temps, not high temps.

I do think the wild animals had more to fear from people when people hunted them to survive.

Meanwhile, many suburban areas are turning into wildlife refuges as coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, and other predators take advantage of the abundant food acquired at low risk.

This study is bunk.
Mark Thomas
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2018
"what is warming (data wise) are overnight low temps, not high temps."

You are a troll and a liar.

https://www.clima...ord-lows
antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2018
Rising temperatures are a confounding factor and another way people drive some animals towards being nocturnal.

The Chicken Little Jackass, ignorantly, brays.
SwamiOnTheMountain
2 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2018
I've also gone nocturnal to avoid humans. =)

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