It’s no secret that mankind’s actions have some pretty big effects on the natural world, and many different species of animals have gradually had to adapt to our actions or risk extinction. With cities growing larger, forests being cut down, and natural habitats being altered in dramatic ways by humanity, our furry, feathered, and scaly friends of all shapes and sizes are forced to change their ways, and a recent study suggests that some animals are actually starting to become more nocturnal in order to avoid humans altogether.
The study, authored by Kaitlyn M. Gaynor, Cheryl E. Hojnowski, Neil H. Carter, and Justin S. Bashares, was published in Science Magazine and entitled ‘The Influence of Human Disturbance on Wildlife Nocturnality’.
It looked into the ways in which animals have had to change their habits and lifestyles in order to cope with ever-increasing human populations. The results are simply fascinating!
According to the report, various species that would normally be more active in the day than the night have started showing increased activity after dark, and it’s all our fault.
With human populations growing larger, animals have less and less space in which to hunt, forage, and generally live out their lives without any human involvement or interference. However, since our activity reduces drastically once the sun goes down, animals have started taking advantage of that fact, forcing themselves into nocturnal activities just so they don’t have to deal with us. Basically, they know that we’re less likely to bother them after dark, so that’s when they decide to come out and roam around.
Examples of species affected by this change in behavior, according to the study, include tigers, boars, deer, and coyotes.
Gaynor, one of the authors of the study and a scientist at the Department of Environmental Science at University of California – Berkeley, even says that seemingly ‘eco-friendly’ human activities like camping and hiking could be contributing to this change.
We may think that we leave no trace when we’re just hiking in the woods, but our mere presence can have lasting consequences.
Species like Tanzanian lions, Brazilian otters, and Californian coyotes were all seen to be show the same changes in activity.
The research paper looked at 76 studies of 62 different species in total from all around the world, and the results were always consistent; no matter where the researchers looked, they found evidence of animals changing their ways due to the presence of humans hunting, farming, and generally being in the local area.
So what does this all mean for the animals? Is it a good or a bad thing? Well, the scientists can’t really draw any definitive conclusions on that just yet.
Gaynor and her team admitted that these changes might cause “ecosystem-level consequences” that we aren’t even aware of right now, but optimistically added that many of the animals concerned were perfectly capable of becoming more nocturnal. Gaynor said:
Humans can do their thing during the day; wildlife can do their thing at night.
Either way, it’s intriguing to see just how well animals can adapt and adjust their behavior to cope with any situation and keep on surviving.
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