Lions & Tigers & Bears Are Choosing To Go Bump In The Night

Humans may go out at night to avoid meeting or bumping into people they know are only out during daylight hours. It's a conscious decision. But do animals avoid interacting with humans in a similar fashion? Most recently scientists have uncovered behavior that might give credence to this type of activity. Ecologists at the University of California, Berkeley, released a study published in Science Magazine that indicates animals are adjusting their habits to avoid the stresses of human encroachment on their habitat.

Going Nocturnal . . .

According to research released by Kaitlyn M. Gaynor, Cheryl E. Hojnowski, Neil H. Carter, and Justin S. Brashares, human population growth is having a profound influence on animals preferring darkness to the light of day.

It appears a good number of mammals have become nocturnal in an attempt to avoid us.

Scientists assert this probably works for these animals, but could have potential "ecosystem-level consequences" us humans don't yet fully understand.

Ecosystem-Level Consequences

Scientists assert that this may work for the animals, but could have potential "ecosystem-level consequences" we don't yet fully understand. It's seems to avoid humans, animals are moving around less, retreating to remote areas, and spending less time seeking food, according to All this modified behavior unfortunately contributes to overall stress in the animals.

"It suggests that animals might be playing it safe around people," said Gaynor. "We may think that we leave no trace when we're just hiking in the woods, but our mere presence can have lasting consequences."

Gaynor and her research team isolated 62 species on six continents that were affected. Specifically, lions in Tanzania, otters in Brazil, coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland and tigers in Nepal were among the most prominent exhibiting this behavior.

Then the team analyzed how much time these animals dedicated to night activity under various types of human disturbances, such as hunting, hiking and farming. Overall, on the average, the researchers found that human intervention prompted about 20 percent more evening hour activity, even in animals, which were typically night owls.

Gaynor said animals that don't adapt well to the darkness will be affected. But she said that behavioral shift could also help other animals reduce direct encounters with people.

"Humans can do their thing during the day; wildlife can do their thing at night," she said. That way, people would be sharing the planet "with many other species that are just taking the night shift while we're sleeping."

Primary Source: Science Magazine