Navigation Links
Study: Death by moonlight? Not always
Date:10/22/2013

Is moonlight dangerous? It depends on what you are, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

"Ecologists have long viewed the darkness of a moonless night as a protective blanket for nocturnal prey species," said Laura Prugh, a wildlife biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In the dark, creatures of the night can go about their business in relative safety from lurking predators. Moonlight, according to this logic, helps predators find their prey and is risky if you are a prey species trying not to get eaten.

That's not always so, says Prugh, a researcher with the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, and colleague Christopher Golden of Harvard University.

"The theory that moonlight increases predation risk ignores the fact that prey animals also have eyes, and they often use them to detect predators," said Prugh. If moonlight helps predators to find prey, it could also help prey species to detect approaching predators.

To find out if moonlit nights are dangerous, Prugh and Golden compiled the effects of moonlight reported in existing studies of 58 nocturnal mammal species. If moonlight is dangerous for prey species, they expected predators to be more active on moonlit nights and prey species to be less active.

The researchers found that species ranged widely in their affinity for moonlight, from the moon-loving or lunar-philic lemurs of Madagascar to the lunar-phobic kangaroo rats in the southwestern United States. And, responses to moonlight were related to the sensory systems of species rather than their positions in the food chain.

Prey animals that use vision as their main sensory system, such as primates, were generally more active on bright nights. Prey species that rely mainly on senses like smell or echolocation, such as many rodents and bats, were generally less active. And contrary to expectations, predators such as African lions were less active on moonlit nights.

"Moonlight is indeed risky for some prey species, but only those that use vision as a backup system rather than their first line of defense," said Prugh. "Our synthesis shows that moonlight can benefit visually oriented prey." And as for those lurking predators, the moon may often hurt rather than help their chances of catching prey.

This study is the first to examine moonlight effects across a diverse assemblage of species. Nearly half of all mammals are nocturnal, experiencing lunar cycles that cause light levels to change by three orders of magnitude every month.

"Our results suggest that moonlight alters predator-prey relations in more complex ways than previously thought," said Prugh, who added that she hopes this study will stimulate further research.

"Do lunar cycles affect population growth rates? How do artificial lights affect the hunting success and vulnerability of nocturnal species? These are important questions that we do not currently have answers to," Prugh said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Marie Thoms
methoms@alaska.edu
907-474-7412
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study: Acidity can change cell membrane properties
2. Penn study: Shutting off neurons helps bullied mice overcome symptoms of depression
3. Rutgers study: Worms may shed light on human ability to handle chronic stress
4. UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies
5. Study: Pedometer program helps motivate participants to sit less, move more
6. Study: MicroRNA cooperation mutes breast cancer oncogenes
7. Study: Environmental policies matter for growing megacities
8. Study: Widespread test-and-treat HIV policies could increase dangerous drug resistance
9. Study: Probiotics reduce stress-induced intestinal flare-ups
10. Study: Antibiotics are unique assassins
11. International study: Excess dietary salt may drive the development of autoimmune diseases
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study: Death by moonlight? Not always
(Date:6/1/2016)... NEW YORK , June 1, 2016 ... Biometric Technology in Election Administration and Criminal Identification to ... According to a recently released TechSci Research report, " ... Sector, By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - ... $ 24.8 billion by 2021, on account of growing ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... , May 20, 2016  VoiceIt is ... partnership with VoicePass. By working together, ... experience.  Because VoiceIt and VoicePass take slightly different ... engines increases both security and usability. ... excitement about this new partnership. "This ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour ... from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. ... receptivity to a program where they would receive discounts ... company. "We were surprised to see that ... LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation of ... company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), ... portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment ... represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing the ... cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the ... institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the Class ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: