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These animals depend on darkness. But humans have ruined their nights.

An animal that naturally split its activity evenly between the day and night, for example, would increase its nighttime activity to 68 percent around people. In areas disturbed by humans, animals were 1.36 times more nocturnal on average.

BEN GUARINO: ‘For many mammal species, day has already shifted to night. A recent meta-analysis, published in Science, reveals that normally day-dwelling animals are becoming more active at night. The study’s authors examined 141 case studies, representing 62 mammal species on all continents except Antarctica. In each case study, GPS, camera traps or other trackers recorded animals’ behavior. Some lived in areas of high human disturbance, others in protected areas or remote habitats.

In areas disturbed by humans, animals were 1.36 times more nocturnal on average. Put another way: “An animal that naturally split its activity evenly between the day and night, for example, would increase its nighttime activity to 68 percent around people,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley and an author of the Science paper.

Hunting, urban development and agriculture were all risk factors for increasing nighttime activity. But more mundane behaviors, such as nature hikes, chased animals into the night, too. “Daytime walking, particularly with people with dogs, even dogs on leashes, had these powerful effects in displacing wildlife species,” said Justin Brashares, a wildlife ecologist at Berkeley and an author of the study’. SOURCE…

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