Urban fox scavenging at night

This article was originally published on September 8, 2021.

Twice a year every American—except those in Hawaii, Arizona and the country’s overseas territories — have to adjust their schedule by one hour. The ritual is despised by a majority of Americans, according to a survey by the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs Research and NORC, with seven out of 10 stating that they would prefer time to stay put instead. There is even a medical justification for this hatred; jump forward and fall back it messes with our bodies’ circadian rhythmswhich in turn can affect sleep, hunger and mood.

Does daylight saving time affect urban animals?

This schedule change is logical affects people, of course, but what about the wild animals that share spaces with us? Even in many urban areas, there are probably more co-existing creatures that are affected than you think.

“Just within Chicago, we’ve found beavers, muskrats, mink and coyotes, which are pretty common throughout the city,” says Lisa Lehrer, assistant director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. And that’s in addition to other “key players,” including “raccoons, possums, skunks [and] variety of bat species. The city is also home to birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects and other invertebrates — and it’s hardly the only place with an actual zoo within its borders. Urban wildlife of all stripes is common in metropolises around the world.

To thrive in a sea of ​​humans, these animals have adapted to activity patterns which define the hustle and bustle of city life. For example, animals that are usually active during the day have a stable become more nocturnal to avoid human interaction. Just turn to Tanzania, where antelopes living near human settlements show more activity at night than those living further into the desert. Likewise, urban animals tend to avoid bright, artificial light that bathes many cities at night and for good reason. Researchers note that this light is capable of negatively affect mating and courtship behavioras it happens in Australian black field cricket.

Given that city-dwelling animals must conform to our schedules in order to survive, how do they cope when those schedules suddenly change as a result of Daylight Savings Time? According to Lehrer, they may be able to adjust quite quickly. “I could see there being a potential short-term plan impact on wildlife, for example, in the spring when we go forward an hour and the light conditions are much darker in the morning,” she says. “People will rely more on artificial light if they have to be at work at the same time, but it’s darker.”

Direct effects of daylight savings time on urban wildlife

The bigger challenge for animals is adjusting to seasonal changes in daylight availability and what that does to human activity. “The longer shift in daylight and temperature that affects human activity,” says Lehrer, will trickle down into more consequential effects for urban animals.

One way daylight savings time can cause problems is through wildlife-vehicle collisions, as the clock shift puts more drivers on the road during the darker hours. In a new study, more drivers in New York encountered white-tailed deer after the end of daylight saving time compared to spring time. The study’s co-authors say the weather change has led to more road users at dusk, when deer are most active. It didn’t help that the driver’s visibility was worst in the dark, something that The National Safety Council is warning drivers regarding.

When it comes to the coexistence of humans and other animals, it ultimately comes down to the presence of light. Wild animals adjust their schedules to avoid us during the day, but when human activity shifts to darker hours, either slowly (due to warmer weather caused by seasonal changes) or quickly (due to daylight saving time), they can conflicts to arise. However, these conflicts are not predetermined, and there are actions each of us can take to prevent them.

“There are innovative ways that people are thinking more critically about how much light we really need to have,” says Lehrer. “If there are areas where people aren’t active in the middle of the night, maybe those spaces don’t need to be lit.” We can use things like controls where we can adjust the lighting to be less bright during certain times of the day. It seems the secret to any good relationship—a healthy amount of personal space—applies to humans and other animals alike.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *