Shedding light on light: benefits of anthropogenic illumination to a nocturnally foraging shorebird

Dwyer, Ross G., Bearhop, Stuart, Campbell, Hamish A. and Bryant, David M. (2013) Shedding light on light: benefits of anthropogenic illumination to a nocturnally foraging shorebird. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82 2: 478-485. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12012

Author Dwyer, Ross G.
Bearhop, Stuart
Campbell, Hamish A.
Bryant, David M.
Title Shedding light on light: benefits of anthropogenic illumination to a nocturnally foraging shorebird
Journal name Journal of Animal Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-8790
Publication date 2013-03-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.12012
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 82
Issue 2
Start page 478
End page 485
Total pages 8
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Abstract Intertidal habitats provide important feeding areas for migratory shorebirds. Anthropogenic developments along coasts can increase ambient light levels at night across adjacent inter-tidal zones. Here, we report the effects of elevated nocturnal light levels upon the foraging strategy of a migratory shorebird (common redshank Tringa totanus) overwintering on an industrialised estuary in Northern Europe. To monitor behaviour across the full intertidal area, individuals were located by day and night using VHF transmitters, and foraging behaviour was inferred from inbuilt posture sensors. Natural light was scored using moon-phase and cloud cover information and nocturnal artificial light levels were obtained using geo-referenced DMSP/OLS night-time satellite imagery at a 1-km resolution. Under high illumination levels, the commonest and apparently preferred foraging behaviour was sight-based. Conversely, birds feeding in areas with low levels of artificial light had an elevated foraging time and fed by touch, but switched to visual rather than tactile foraging behaviour on bright moonlit nights in the absence of cloud cover. Individuals occupying areas which were illuminated continuously by lighting from a large petrochemical complex invariably exhibited a visually based foraging behaviour independently of lunar phase and cloud cover. We show that ambient light levels affect the timing and distribution of foraging opportunities for redshank. We argue that light emitted from an industrial complex improved nocturnal visibility. This allowed sight-based foraging in place of tactile foraging, implying both a preference for sight-feeding and enhanced night-time foraging opportunities under these conditions. The study highlights the value of integrating remotely sensed data and telemetry techniques to assess the effect of anthropogenic change upon nocturnal behaviour and habitat use.
Keyword Artificial light
Foraging strategy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 27 November 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
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