Artificial Light Pollution and Problem-solving Success in Peafowl

Behavioral innovations allow animals to adjust their behavior to solve novel problems. While innovative behavior can be important for animals living in new environments, anthropogenic pollution may limit their ability to adapt by impairing cognition or motivation. In particular, exposure to light pollution at night can cause sleep deprivation and may, therefore, hinder innovative behavior. To test this hypothesis, we examined experimentally whether exposure to acute light pollution impacts problem-solving success in peafowl (Pavo cristatus). We found that their problem-solving success was unrelated to short-term light pollution exposure. Other factors, including persistence, sex of the bird, and moon illumination, influenced their success in solving the task. The results suggest that short-term exposure to light pollution does not limit behavioral innovation, but long-term studies are necessary to further probe this question.