Artificial light pollution is drastically changing the sensory environments of animals. Even though many animals are now living in these changed environments, the effect light pollution has on animal behavior is poorly understood. With a team of undergraduates (Sydney Byerley, Jeanee Coy, Aisyah Aziz, Jamie Wolf, and Amanda Gnerlich), we investigated the effect of light pollution on nocturnal vigilance in peahens (Pavo cristatus). We found that light pollution significantly increases nocturnal vigilance in peahens. Furthermore, the birds faced a trade-off between vigilance and sleep at night: peahens that were more vigilant spent less time sleeping. Given the choice, peahens preferred to roost away from high levels of artificial lighting but showed no preference for roosting without artificial lighting or with low levels of artificial lighting. Our study demonstrated that light pollution can have a substantial impact on animal behavior that can potentially result in fitness consequences.
Yorzinski, J.L., Chisholm, S., Byerley, S., Coy, J.R., Aziz, A.B., Wolf, J.A., Gnerlich, A. 2015. Artificial light pollution increases nocturnal vigilance in peahens. PeerJ 3: e1174. PDF