Humans have long been inspired and transformed by the moon, and as we have discovered, moonlight can also change the behavior of Australian wildlife.
A collection of recently published research has shed light on the behavior of some animals – including potholes, walruses and quails – on the variation of ambient light, the phases of the moon, and how they change with the cloud cover.
One Study Small mammals were very active on cloudy nights. Another The variation seen in the moonlight led to different types of creatures being captured in non-death traps. A study of Willy Waktail found that men like it Singing on a full moon.
These findings are interesting from a natural historical perspective. But they also help ecologists and conservation scientists better identify and study nocturnal animals, and learn how artificial light pollution can change where animals live and how they behave.
Moonlight hunter-hunt for prey
Most mammals in Australia are nocturnal, and some smaller species are thought to use it The cover of darkness To avoid the attention of hungry hunters. However, we do not know about such relationships, especially since these relationships are difficult to study in the wild.
In a relatively diverse mammalian community Mount Rothwell, Victoria, We explored how variation in ambient light affects the function of organisms and how it affects the interactions of organisms. Mount Rothwell is a fenced-in safety reserve free of cats and foxes, and with low light pollution.
In two years, We calculated Predatory and prey species’ responses to different light levels from full, half and new moon phases.
Potential prey species were included in our study Eastern Barrier And Southern brown bandicoots, Long Nose Pottoros, Brushtail Rock-Wallabies, And Brushtail And general Ringtail possums. East And Spot-tail quails Their potential predators.
As we predicted, We found out While there appear to be relationships between cloud, lunar phase and mammalian activity, these interactions depend on the sizes and types of mammals involved.
Predators and prey generally increased their activity in the dark.
Smaller, prey species increased their activity when cloud cover was high, and predators increased their activity during the half and new moon phases.
This suggests that the deadly game they hide and seek on dark nights may intensify. The prey will have to spend more time to reduce the chance of turning into dinner.
What is happening in the forest?
It is important to acknowledge that surveys conducted in sanctuaries such as Mount Rothwell do not always reflect well on what is going on in the wild, including the introduction of predators such as feral cats and red foxes.
Another recent Study, This time of small mammals in the forests of the Coriander region of Victoria sheds more light on the situation. The authors tested if variation in weather and lunar phases affected the numbers of five small mammal species – Polamine mouse, Common dunnart, House Mouse, South ningaui, And West Pygmy Pose – Caught in danger traps.
Danger traps Small fences cannot be climbed over or through small animals, so follow the page until they fall into a bucket dug into the ground. Environmentalists usually use these traps to catch and measure animals and then return them to the wild without harm.
At more than 260 sites and more than 50,000 trap nights, wind speed, temperature and moonlight have affected which species were caught and in what number.
For example, a small native rodent, Polamine mouse, and fleshy mammalian, southern nymph, were less prone to high moonlight, whereas seizures of pygmy bass were higher with high moonlight.
Moonlight Song Bird Serenades
Research It shows that even species that are normally active during the day from the past month may change their behavior and function at night.
It is not uncommon to hear bird singing at night, including Aussie militancy Macbeth. Using bioacoustic recorders and song detection software, the researchers found that Willie Waktail – another of Australia’s most adaptable and preferred birds – was a nocturnal singer, especially during the breeding season.
While both male and female vocalists sing during the day, men are more vocal at night. Men also seem not to be afraid of a small stage lights, singing more with increasing moonlight, and performances are at their peak during full moons.
This work provides insights into the importance and potential role of night-time song for birds, such as mate attraction or territorial defense, and helps to better understand these behaviors in general.
Moonlight affects wildlife conservation
While these studies and others may help to inform wildlife conservation, in practice speaking, environmental studies should take into account the brightness of the nights in which the work took place.
Depending on when, where we go and what methods we use to collect information about the species (camera traps, spotlighting and non-lethal trapping) there may be more or less chances of detecting certain organisms. It can affect our understanding of species and ecosystems and how to manage them.
Pipistrel Bats, For example, are more active around half-illuminated bridges than on unbroken bridges. They move further away from well-lit bridges and fly faster when near them.
This means that artificial light will reduce the amount and connectivity of habitat available to certain bat species in urban areas. It will affect their people.
Research is ongoing Around the world, the importance of conservation of such issues is explored in more detail, but this is just another timely reminder of the deeper ways we affect the environment we share with other organisms.
We would like to acknowledge that Yvette Palik contributed to our published works on Mount Rothwell and that the traditional defenders of this land are the Wadarong people of the Cullinan nation.
Juan Ricci, Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Integrated Ecology Center, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University; Courtney Marnweck, Postdoctoral researcher in the field of ecology, Carnivore, Clemson University , And Grand Linley, Ph.D Candidate, Charles Sturt University