Tags: nocturnal | mammals

Nocturnal Mammals: Animals Becoming Creatures of the Night to Avoid Humans

Nocturnal Mammals: Animals Becoming Creatures of the Night to Avoid Humans
Large mammals are increasingly becoming increasingly nocturnal to avoid human activity. (Erik Mandre/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 15 June 2018 06:33 PM

Mammals are going nocturnal in an effort to avoid human activity, a new study found. And it’s not just happening in the United States —it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

This shift to become creatures of the night was reported Friday in the journal Science in a piece titled “The influence of human disturbance on wildlife nocturnality.”

Humans inhabit about 75 percent of the Earth’s landmass, and as fewer areas become available for wildlife, they’re doing the next best thing — become active during the hours humans normally sleep.

“As the human population grows, there are fewer places for animals to live out their lives independently of our influence,” the report begins. “Given our mostly diurnal tendencies, one domain that remains less affected by humans is the night.”

University of California Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Kaitlyn Gaynor, a wildlife ecologist and author of the report, wondered whether humans were doing more than displacing animals in space as they encroach further into what had been pristine areas. She wondered if they were changing their normal routines, according to the Los Angeles Times.

That was a difficult question to answer in the past – but things have changed.

“In recent decades, the advent of technologies, such as satellite and GPS telemetry or camera traps, has made it possible to monitor wildlife activity more accurately,” wrote ecologist Ana Benítez-López, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Using advanced technology, Gaynor and her colleagues were able to track approximately 62 different species of mammals spanning six continents.

“We expected to find a trend towards increased wildlife nocturnality [across] species, but we were surprised by just how consistent the results were,” Gaynor said.

It made no difference what kind of human activity encroached upon their environment — whether it was lethal to them as in hunting, or nonlethal, the result was the same.

“The response is of equal magnitude to activities that don’t actually pose a risk to animals, like hiking through the woods — activities that we think of leaving no trace,” she said.

The shift to becoming nocturnal was more pronounced among larger mammals, the report said, “either because they are more likely to be hunted or as a result of an increased chance of human encounter.”

“Ultimately, the scientists said, the findings could be used to create protected times of day for wildlife, just as we create protected spaces,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Folks on social media knew just how the animals felt.

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A new study found that mammals are going nocturnal in an effort to avoid human activity. And it’s a worldwide phenomenon.
nocturnal, mammals
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2018-33-15
Friday, 15 June 2018 06:33 PM
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