Wildlife watching is an emerging ecotourism activity around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, night viewing of little penguins attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. As penguins start coming ashore after sunset, artificial lighting is essential to allow visitors to view them in the dark. This alteration of the nightscape warrants investigation for any potential effects of artificial lighting on penguin behavior. We experimentally tested how penguins respond to different light wavelengths (colors) and intensities to examine effects on the colony attendance behavior at two sites on Phillip Island, Australia. At one site, nocturnal artificial illumination has been used for penguin viewing for decades, whereas at the other site, the only light is from the natural night sky. Light intensity did not affect colony attendance behaviors of penguins at the artificially lit site, probably due to penguin habituation to lights. At the not previously lit site, penguins preferred lit paths over dark paths to reach their nests. Thus, artificial light might enhance penguin vision at night and consequently it might reduce predation risk and energetic costs of locomotion through obstacle and path detection. Although penguins are faithful to their path, they can be drawn to artificial lights at small spatial scale, so light pollution could attract penguins to undesirable lit areas. When artificial lighting is required, we recommend keeping lighting as dim and time‐restricted as possible to mitigate any negative effects on the behavior of penguins and their natural habitat.
More infot at:
Rodríguez A, Holmberg R, Dann P, Chiaradia A (2018) Penguin colony attendance under artificial lights for ecotourism. Journal of Experimental Zoology A, doi: 10.1002/jez.2155
We analysed data collected by a volunteer-based initiative for rescuing grounded birds, in Mallaig, a village in the west of Scotland. The village is 27km away from the Isle of Rum, the second biggest colony of Manx shearwaters in the world. We investigated how moon and meteorological variables affect the number of birds that were recovered on the ground. We found that during full moon fewer birds ground in the village than during new moon; similar to effects discovered in other studies. In addition we found that strong onshore winds cause more groundings suggesting that birds may be blown towards the village and then being affected by the lights. To a lesser extent, visibility conditions also have an effect on grounding probabilities in Mallaig. Our results can improve rescue campaigns of not only Manx Shearwaters but also other species attracted to light pollution, by predicting conditions leading to an increase in the number of groundings.
More info at:
Syposz M, Gonçalves F, Carty M, Hoppitt W, Manco F (2018) Factors influencing location and number of Manx Shearwater grounding in west Scotland. Ibis, doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12594
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