Afraid of the Dark? The Influence of Natural and Artificial Light at Night on the Behavioral Activity of a Nocturnal Gecko

Nordberg, Eric J., and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2022) Afraid of the Dark? The Influence of Natural and Artificial Light at Night on the Behavioral Activity of a Nocturnal Gecko. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10. 821335.

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Abstract

Both natural and artificial light at night can strongly influence animal behavior. Nocturnal animals often alter activity dependent on lunar light levels, to increase prey capture, minimize detection by predators, or both. Trade-offs among these ecological effects are likely to have a strong influence on behavior and fitness. Here, we examined the influence of light at night on nocturnal geckos that are both predators and prey, and use both natural and anthropogenic habitats. We tested the influence of illumination on the relative abundance and behavioral activity of native geckos in natural woodlands and under laboratory conditions. We hypothesized that Australian native house geckos (Gehyra dubia) would avoid activity on nights with high moon brightness, to minimize exposure to predators, consistent with the predation risk hypothesis. Counter to our prediction, we found a positive relationship between house gecko activity and moon brightness, i.e., house geckos were more active on bright nights. This behavior may allow house geckos to better see their prey while also increasing the visibility of approaching predators. In the laboratory, house geckos had shorter latency times to emerge from a shelter under low light conditions compared to darkness equivalent to a new moon, a trend consistent with higher activity under brighter conditions in the field. Light at night, from both natural and artificial sources, clearly influences the behavior and activity of geckos, but perhaps not in the ways we expect. Reducing the risk of attack from predators in darkness, and increasing prey capture success using vision, may increase the benefits of activity in lit conditions, compared to total darkness.

Item ID: 73776
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-701X
Keywords: ALAN, boldness, cost-benefit, moonlight, movement, predation
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2022 Nordberg and Schwarzkopf. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Date Deposited: 11 May 2022 08:19
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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