Many animals are now nocturnal as a way to avoid interacting with humans, according to a recent study published in the journal Science. Humans constantly displace wildlife. However, as cities and towns continue to expand there are fewer places for animals to hide. As a result, many have switched their schedules from during the day to at night.
This finding comes from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who examined 72 studies from across the world and found that humans disrupt many animals’ daily routines. As such species commonly feed or roam when they feel safe, that shift caused them to only go out during dark. In fact, the mammals looked at in the new study were roughly 1.36 times more likely to be nocturnal around people than they were in natural environments.
“An animal that would typically split its activity equally between day and night, increased its night time activity to 68 percent of its total activity,” said lead author Kaitlyn Gaynor, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, according to ABC.net. “This was a pretty striking change particularly as it was so consistent across the planet.”
The research showed that the shift towards a nocturnal lifestyle occurred no matter how harmless human encroachment was. That is concerning because it means that human presence — including mostly harmless acts like hiking — matters just as much as urban development.
Such information is important because, through more research needs to be conducted on the overall ideas behind the study, the findings could shed light on how to better preserve both communities and native biodiversity.
“We hope our findings will open up new avenues for wildlife research in human-dominated landscapes. We still have a lot to learn about the implications of altered activity patterns for the management of wildlife populations, interactions between species, and even human-induced evolution,” said Gaynor, in a statement.