Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

“Light pollution” may affect love lives of birds in the Viennese Forests

25.07.2014

Artificial light in cities exerts negative effects on humans, animals, and their environment. In an ongoing research project, behavioral biologists at Vetmeduni Vienna are investigating how blue tits in the Viennese Forests react to "light pollution".

The study might help to understand effects of “light-at-night” on reproductive behavior of birds. In consequence, it could help developing concepts, minimizing negative effects on the lives of animals and the ecological system, by reducing light sources in specific regions. The research project started this year and is supported by the city of Vienna.


Blue tits are common inhabitants of the City of Vienna.

Photo: Katharina Mahr

The so-called circadian rhythm or "body clock" influences the behaviour of living beings. Light is an important “Zeitgeber”, especially for birds. Based on light, birds know when it is time to mate, breed, forage or migrate. If the natural day and night rhythms are affected by artificial light, the natural behavioral patterns of the animals may also change.

The "light-at-night"-effect disturbs migrating birds

Katharina Mahr and Herbert Hoi from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology at the Vetmeduni Vienna are interested in the effects of “light-at-night" in wild birds. "There are studies investigating the effect of artificial light on the orientation and activity of birds. Light, for instance, limits the sense of orientation, but also activity patterns in birds to a great extent," study coordinator Mahr explains.

The Viennese research team is one of the first to experimentally test the effects of artificial light in the natural environment of animals, by actively manipulating ambient light conditions. The team is particularly interested in the reproductive behavior of blue tits in the Viennese Forests. "Blue tits seem to be good model species for this study because we know a lot about their mating and reproductive behaviour. Besides, they frequently breed in cities and therefore are exposed to artificial light," Mahr states.

Research using LED lights in the forest

Over a period of about three weeks, LED lights illuminated various areas of the Viennese Forests for two additional hours in the morning, before sunrise, and in the evening after sunset. In this period scientists examined, activity patterns such as singing and mating behavior, growth and development of the nestlings, as well as stress hormones. The number of extra-pair copulations females perform, could be affected and offspring may more frequently originate from various fathers.

"There is evidence that the circadian rhythm influences mate choice, but does it also affect the development of nestlings?,” Mahr states. “A well-known phenomenon that can be found in chicken farming is the manipulation of the day and night rhythm in order to make the animals lay more eggs."

Does light pollution affect the honesty of sexual signals?

"We assume that light at night affects the birds' strategies of choosing partners. Males, for instance, like to be in the "limelight" whereas females might prefer to "remain in the dark". Thus, light may exert different effects on the love lives of the different sexes. Besides, male blue tits are "morning singers". Particularly fit males start to sing pre-dawn songs. We also know that female blue tits tend to be unfaithful to their partners, but do so covertly. Therefore, we want to find out whether artificial light generates a certain conflict between the sexes," says Mahr.

The fact that such a conflict impairs the reproduction of tits was shown by Mahr in a previous study. http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/9/1/14
Besides, artificial light may cause shorter resting periods and thus impose additional stress on the fledglings.

Light possibly has impact on the entire ecological system of the woods

"More light may also affect other living beings in the Viennese Forests. Insects may for instance be affected. They are an important source of food for many inhabitants of the woods and their presence is therefore essential," says Mahr.

"Urban lights are obviously important for human safety and comfort. Nevertheless, urban planning should take into account the question of where light sources are really necessary. Illuminated billboards, for instance, can be dispensed with. Non-illuminated zones could be planned consciously. Our study is intended to encourage decision-makers to devote greater attention and thought to the subject," Mahr pleads.

The research project „Does Light Pollution affect the Breeding Performance of wild Blue Tits (Canistes caeruleus) in the Viennese Forest?” headed by Katharina Mahr from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology at the Vetmeduni Veinna is supported by the Hochschuljubiläumsstiftung of the City of Vienna. The study started in the beginning of 2014 and ends on the 31st of December 2014.

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,200 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Katharina Mahr
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 676 9419955
katharina.mahr@vetmeduni.ac.at

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2014/...

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Ethology Medicine Veterinary Vetmeduni artificial reproductive rhythm

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Barcode For Shredding Junk RNA
28.08.2015 | Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

nachricht Researchers discover new mechanism in adrenal gland tumors
28.08.2015 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Self-healing landscape: landslides after earthquake

In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.

These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...

Im Focus: FIC Proteins Send Bacteria Into Hibernation

Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.

For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart

It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

Large agribusiness management strategies

19.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Barcode For Shredding Junk RNA

28.08.2015 | Life Sciences

OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Two satellites see newborn Tropical Storm Jimena consolidating

28.08.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>