More mammals are becoming nocturnal so they can avoid humans

As Earth's human population expands, it's harder for other mammals to avoid people during the daytime. As a result, some mammals are becoming increasingly nocturnal. Nobody knows how that shift will affect individual species and even entire ecosystems. In a new paper in the journal Science, University of California, Berkeley wildlife ecologist Kaitlyn Gaynor and her colleagues examined data on how 62 species across the world spend their days and night. From Scientific American:

For example, leopards in the Central African nation of Gabon are 46 percent nocturnal in areas without bushmeat hunting, but 93 percent nocturnal where the practice is common. In Poland wild boars go from 48 percent nocturnal in natural forests to 90 percent nocturnal in urban areas. Even activities people consider relatively innocuous, such as hiking and wildlife viewing, strongly affected animals’ daily rhythms. Brown bears in Alaska live 33 percent of the day nocturnally when humans stay away, but that number goes up to 76 percent for bears exposed to wildlife-viewing tourism. “We think that we're leaving no trace often when we’re outdoors, but we can be having lasting consequences on animal behavior,” Gaynor says...

Perhaps even more alarming is the cascade of effects that could occur in the wider ecosystem as animals switch from day to night. “Patterns of competition and predator–prey interactions might change with the nocturnal behavioral changes,” Gaynor says. If one species—say a top predator—starts hunting at night and goes after different types of prey, it will likely have innumerable trickle-down consequences for everything along the food chain.

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Otherworldly nightscapes shot with spotlight-equipped drone

The Dying Of The Light is a project shot by sfdrones.tv in the nighttime desert, but with a spotlight so bright that it reaches the intensity of daylight. Read the rest

Stargazing in darkened cities, both real and imagined

Hurricane Irma's blackouts reminded locals of what their gorgeous night skies look like with no light pollution. That reminded me of the cool Darkened Cities project by Thierry Cohen. Read the rest

Time-lapse video of the Northern Lights

I've seen the northern lights once, at a cabin weekend in Wisconsin a couple of years ago. It's a strange thing to experience, especially at that latitude, where the lights aren't as in-your-face as this photo. For the first minute or so, you kind of wonder whether you're hallucinating. Then you realize that everybody else is standing perfectly still and silent, staring at the exact same point in the sky.

This time-lapse video (you'll have to follow the link to watch) shows a far more spectacular display over the Ringebu Fjell in southern Norway, captured by photographer Bernd Proschold. The moment when the clouds clear away, and the lights burst into view is absolutely breathtaking.

The World At Night: A Glimpse of the Far North

(Thanks, Chris Combs!)

Still image taken in Greenland by Flickr user nickrussill. Used via CC.

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