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:12/15/2016)... 2016 "Increase in mobile transactions is driving ... biometrics market is expected to grow from USD 4.03 ... at a CAGR of 29.3% between 2016 and 2022. ... growing demand for smart devices, government initiatives, and increasing ... component is expected to grow at a high rate ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Research Future published a half cooked research report on Mobile Biometric ... Market is expected to grow over the CAGR of ~35% during ... ... Mobile Biometric Security and Service Market is increasing at a ... security from unwanted cyber threats. The increasing use of mobile device ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... India , December 7, 2016 According to a ... Machine Learning), Software Tool (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition), Service, Application Area, End User, ... is estimated to grow from USD 6.72 Billion in 2016 to USD 36.07 ... Continue Reading ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/12/2017)... Linda, Ca (PRWEB) , ... ... ... for low-cost, disposable devices with short response times capable of performing routine ... food fields, disposable screen-printed electrodes provide fast, sensitive detection and quantification of ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... January 12, 2017 , ... After her ... Rosendahl’s doctors gave her only a few months to live. Now a paper ... has stabilized Rosendahl’s disease and increased both the quantity and quality of her ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... 2017   Protein Sciences Corporation , a ... Flublok Influenza Vaccine ®, announced today that its ... safety results and induced strong neutralizing antibodies against ... is expected to advance into human clinical trials ... Institute of Technology in Immunobiologicals of the Oswaldo ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... The report "Direct-Fed Microbials Market by Type (Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bacillus), Livestock (Pork/Swine, ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global market is estimated to be ... Million by 2022, at a CAGR of 6.96% from 2016. ... ... Logo ...
Breaking Biology Technology: