Several studies on petrels and shearwaters have shown that light pollution can be harmful for both fledglings and adults, but little is known of the way such anthropogenic elements affect the quality of parental care at the nest. Chick provisioning in petrels and shearwaters occurs exclusively at night and is also negatively correlated with the intensity of moonlight. Thus, we tested the effect of two outdoor disco events, organized during the touristic season, on overnight weight gain in 26 chicks of Scopoli’s shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) from Linosa Island. The two disco events occurred under contrasting moonlight conditions (moonless vs moonlight). We observed a weight loss in chicks situated closer to disco compared with the control nests located further away. Therefore, this effect was only evident on the moonless night and all the chicks fledged successfully at the end of the breeding season. These results suggest that light disturbances can have a negative effect on parental care, but moonlight might musk the bird’s perception and thus the magnitude of the disturbance. However, it remains crucial to further our understanding of the impact, which touristic anthropogenic activities have on breeding birds, and to identify and effectively manage human activities in important breeding grounds such as Linosa Island, the biggest colony of Scopoli’s shearwater in Europe.
More info at:
Cianchetti-Benedetti M, Becciu P, Massa B, Dell’Omo G. (2018) Conflicts between touristic recreational activities and breeding shearwaters: short-term effect of artificial light and sound on chick weight. Eur J Wildl Res 64: 19
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