Surviving in the Dark: The Complexities of Nocturnal Animal Behavior and Adaptation

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 4862

Image courtesy of 1 Will Hall; 2,3,5 Aconk; 4 Carlos Carrapato; 6 Diogo Oliveira; (1. Nycticebus javanicus, 2. Paradoxurus musanga javanicus, 3. Vivvericula indica, 4. Lynx pardinus, 5. Prionailurus javanensis, 6. Miniopterus schreibersii)

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: bats; wildlife; conservation; monitoring; conservation education

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Guest Editor
Department of Anthropology and Primate Conservation, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
Interests: animal welfare; mammal conservation; nocturnal animals; spatial ecology; density and distribution of mammals; feeding ecology; home range; illegal wildlife trade; taxonomy; conservation education; bioacoustics
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of nocturnal animal behaviour and adaptation is a fascinating, developing area focusing on the ecological and biorhythmic changes in species that need or prefer to be awake during the night.

Recent advances in methodologies have significantly improved the ability to study and understand some of these changes. These include field-based methods, which allow for us to collect more detailed data than ever before; analytical methods, which allow for us to interpret these data; and genetic and taxonomic methods, which allow for us to reveal more cryptic nocturnal animals.

The world, and consequently, all natural values, have been influenced by climate change and anthropogenic changes, posing additional difficulties in understanding some biological adaptations. Scientists have an even more difficult task to distinguish between normal biological adaptations and those influenced by climate- or other human-mediated effects, such as artificial light at night.

Overall, this Special Issue intends to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state-of-the-art in nocturnal animal behaviour and adaptation, and new methodologies to study them.

We welcome high-quality and original research or review papers that address new insights on these topics.

Dr. Luísa Rodrigues
Prof. Dr. Anna Nekaris
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • nocturnal species
  • nocturnal behaviour
  • nocturnal adaptation
  • biorhythmic changes
  • cryptic species
  • climate change
  • bats
  • amphibians
  • marsupials
  • primates
  • birds
  • reptiles
  • conservation

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

13 pages, 1438 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Use of Chemical Weapons for Capturing Prey by a Venomous Mammal, the Greater Slow Loris (Nycticebus coucang)
by Grace Fuller, Wirdateti and K. A. I. Nekaris
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1438; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101438 - 11 May 2024
Viewed by 954
Abstract
Few mammals are venomous, including one group of primates—slow (Nycticebus spp.) and pygmy (Xanthonycticebus spp.) lorises. Hypotheses for the evolutionary function of venom in these primates include defense from predators or ectoparasites, communication or competition with conspecifics, and the capture of [...] Read more.
Few mammals are venomous, including one group of primates—slow (Nycticebus spp.) and pygmy (Xanthonycticebus spp.) lorises. Hypotheses for the evolutionary function of venom in these primates include defense from predators or ectoparasites, communication or competition with conspecifics, and the capture of prey. We tested the prey capture hypothesis in 75 trials with 22 wild-caught greater slow lorises (N. coucang) housed in a rescue center in Java, Indonesia. We experimentally offered the slow lorises arthropod prey items varying in size, escape potential, and toxicity and recorded venom-related and predatory behaviors using live and video observations. The slow lorises visually targeted arthropod prey, approached it quickly and efficiently, and captured it with a manual grasping motion. They rarely performed venom-related behaviors and seemed to do so in a defensive context. The slow lorises exhibited little variation in pre-capture behavior as a function of prey size or escape potential. In response to noxious prey, the slow lorises performed tongue-flicking and other investigative behaviors that indicate they are using chemosensory input to assess prey characteristics. These data suggest it is unlikely that slow lorises use chemical weapons to subdue arthropod prey and may support, instead, a defensive function for slow loris venom. Full article
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11 pages, 1119 KiB  
Article
Population Abundance and Density Estimates of Poorly Documented Near-Threatened Calabar Angwantibo (Arctocebus calabarensis) in Oban Hills Region
by James Kehinde Omifolaji, Sunday Opeyemi Adedoyin, Emmanuel Tersea Ikyaagba, Tauheed Ullah Khan, Victor Abiodun Ojo, Yiming Hu, Abideen Abiodun Alarape, Saka Oladunni Jimoh and Huijian Hu
Animals 2024, 14(9), 1374; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14091374 - 2 May 2024
Viewed by 894
Abstract
Population abundance and density estimates play important roles in biodiversity conservation assessment and can lead to prioritization of conservation efforts, strategies, and management. The Calabar angwantibo (Arctocebus calabarensis) is a poorly studied, Near-Threatened nocturnal, arboreal mammal species occurring only in the [...] Read more.
Population abundance and density estimates play important roles in biodiversity conservation assessment and can lead to prioritization of conservation efforts, strategies, and management. The Calabar angwantibo (Arctocebus calabarensis) is a poorly studied, Near-Threatened nocturnal, arboreal mammal species occurring only in the lowland moist tropical rainforest blocks of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon. Like other arboreal nocturnal mammals, there are gaps in knowledge of the distribution and abundance of this species, which may be facing population declines due to habitat loss and hunting. In this study, we investigated the abundance and density of A. calabarensis in the Oban Hills Region of Nigeria. We conducted systematic distance sampling survey along 32 transects in different habitats in a 1227 km of survey efforts. A total of 41 sightings of A. calabarensis were detected, resulting in an abundance of 7345 individuals (95% CI = 1.51–4.37) with an estimated density of 2.57 animals/km2. The estimated population abundance is 6515 individuals in closed-canopy forests and 830 individuals in secondary forests, with encounter rates of 0.52 individual/km2 and 0.60 individuals/km2 in the closed canopy and secondary forest habitats. The global estimates encounter rate of A. calabarensis across the habitat types is 0.33 individuals/km2 and population abundance of 4456 individuals. Our findings indicate that the A. calabarensis populations can adapt to low changes in forest habitat modifications resulting from increasing and widespread forest disturbance by human-dominated activity, which is giving way to forest clearance for agriculture cultivation and infrastructural development. Our findings help to fill a knowledge gap regarding this species and may help establish a baseline for future management, population monitoring, and conservation of the cryptic population of A. calabarensis in Cross-Sanaga Forests. Full article
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14 pages, 4151 KiB  
Article
The Spatial Niche and Influencing Factors of Desert Rodents
by Xin Li, Na Zhu, Ming Ming, Lin-Lin Li, Fan Bu, Xiao-Dong Wu, Shuai Yuan and He-Ping Fu
Animals 2024, 14(5), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14050734 - 27 Feb 2024
Viewed by 765
Abstract
Resource partitioning may allow species coexistence. Sand dunes in the typical steppe of Alxa Desert Inner Mongolia, China, consisting of desert, shrub, and grass habitats, provide an appropriate system for studies of spatial niche partitioning among small mammals. In this study, the spatial [...] Read more.
Resource partitioning may allow species coexistence. Sand dunes in the typical steppe of Alxa Desert Inner Mongolia, China, consisting of desert, shrub, and grass habitats, provide an appropriate system for studies of spatial niche partitioning among small mammals. In this study, the spatial niche characteristics of four rodents, Orientallactaga sibirica, Meriones meridianus, Dipus sagitta, and Phodopus roborovskii, and their responses to environmental changes in the Alxa Desert were studied from 2017 to 2021. Using the capture-mark-recapture method, we tested if desert rodents with different biological characteristics and life history strategies under heterogeneous environmental conditions allocate resources in spatial niches to achieve sympatric coexistence. We investigated the influence of environmental factors on the spatial niche breadth of rodents using random forest and redundancy analyses. We observed that the spatial niche overlap between O. sibirica and other rodents is extremely low (overlap index ≤ 0.14). P. roborovskii had the smallest spatial niche breadth. Spatial niche overlap was observed in two distinct species pairs, M. meridianus and D. sagitta, and P. roborovskii and D. sagitta. The Pielou evenness index of rodent communities is closely related to the spatial distribution of rodents, and the concealment of habitats is a key factor affecting the spatial occupation of rodents. Full article
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17 pages, 1027 KiB  
Article
Reaction to Novel Objects and Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Levels in Two Species of Nocturnal Geckos
by Gloria Fernández-Lázaro, Roberto Latorre, Juan Carlos Fontanillas Pérez and Isabel Barja
Animals 2023, 13(21), 3384; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13213384 - 31 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1347
Abstract
Many reptiles are maintained in captivity and heavily traded, although welfare measures for many species are not well established and are under-researched compared to other animals. In this study, we focused on two of these species: crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) and [...] Read more.
Many reptiles are maintained in captivity and heavily traded, although welfare measures for many species are not well established and are under-researched compared to other animals. In this study, we focused on two of these species: crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) and leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius). To better interpret their behavior in captivity, the individual reaction to novel objects and the fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels were measured in an attempt to identify the potential correlation between them. Also, we explored if some characteristic of the objects (e.g., color, shape, or smell) resulted in being more attractive to some species and/or individuals. Equivalent responses to different objects were not obtained for all the geckos, the behavioral response being highly individual and context-dependent, although modulated by the species. Individuals which manipulated earlier and interacted longer with novel objects showed lower basal fecal corticosterone metabolite (FCM) levels. Differences according to the species suggested that crested geckos have significantly greater and more variable FCM levels than leopard geckos. Our results can help to understand the reaction of geckos to novelty and have the potential to serve in their welfare assessment, although more studies are needed to proper establish welfare protocols. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The unique adaptive profile of lorises is supported by a suite of specializations of the sensory system that are reflected in the morphology of the cranium
Authors: Mary Silcox; Sergi Lopez Torres
Affiliation: University of Toronto
Abstract: This paper seeks to consider the temporal depth of these adaptations based on the orbital and inner ear morphology of the best-preserved skull of a fossil loris from the Miocene, pertaining to Mioeuoticus shipmani.

Title: The two extremes of pygmy loris night time life
Authors: Marina Kenyon
Affiliation: University of Cambridge
Abstract: Information gathered from pygmy loris rehabilitation and post-release tracking has gleamed further insight into the seasonal adaptations of pygmy loris in South Vietnam, in surviving in the extreme dry season and extreme wet. They drastically change their appearance from orange to a beige frosted, the frosted coat difficult to see amongst brown bamboo leaf in the extreme dry, in addition to changing the volume of food eaten. Social behaviour and tolerance of other pygmy loris changes in preparation for the strict breeding season. In the dry season out of mating season social affinities can be any way, in particular same sexed pairings, while in the wet breeding season with enlarged testicles, weapons are out and same sexed pairings are not an option. The seasonal search for mates is shown in the greater distances between sleep sites in the wet season, compared to the more relaxed dry season, when they travel under 100m.

Title: Effect of resource availability on ranging patterns and sleeping site selection of a nocturnal folivore, Avahi meridionalis
Authors: Giuseppe Donati; Marco Campera; Michela Balestri
Affiliation: School of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University

Title: First vocalisation record of the elusive 'Data Deficient' black flying squirrel (Aeromys tephromelas) in Sabah, Malaysia
Authors: Sapphire Hampshire; Henry Bernard; Priscillia Miard
Affiliation: Universiti Malaysia SabahThis link is disabled., Kota Kinabalu, Malaysi
Abstract: Flying squirrels are the nocturnal, gliding relatives to tree and ground squirrels (order Sciuridae). Despite >50 species existing, literature is scarce meaning they are overlooked in conservation action plans. The ‘giant’ black flying squirrel (Aeromys tephromelas) is classed as ‘data deficient’, with no focused publications. Recently, individuals were observed during nocturnal mammal survey at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), an Eco centre at the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest reserve in Sepilok, Sabah. The survey (February-March 2023) incorporated the use of Red LED spotlighting, thermal imaging and bioacoustic recording during systematic along-line point counts. The most notable result was the first documentation of a black flying squirrel vocalisation (call frequency: between 2-4 kHz, call duration: 0.34s, call repetition: 1.57s). Although call function could not be determined, this result sheds lights on a previously unknown part of their ecology. These results stress the urgency for further research on the black flying squirrel to evaluate their current extinction risk, considering deforestation is prevalent across most of their distribution. Additionally, the RDC, with its accessible trails and unique 25 m canopy walkway, provides an ideal field site for studying black flying squirrel ecology.

Title: Sleeping tree selection and camouflage in wild Sunda colugos from Langkawi Island, Malaysia
Authors: Molly C. Gilbert; Priscillia Miard; Nadine Ruppert; Nik Fadzly Nik Rosely; Francesco Rovero; Claudia Barelli
Affiliation: nstitute for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ITBC), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS)
Abstract: Selection of sleeping trees and camouflage are important adaptations for many animals, providing them with protection from predators. One common camouflage tactic is background matching, the degree to which an animal is similar with its background pattern and colour. Sunda colugos (Galeopterus variegatus) are nocturnal mammals, distributed throughout Southeast Asia, with little information being available on camouflage potential. This study was conducted on wild colugos inhabiting Langkawi Island, Malaysia. We aimed to assess sleeping tree use by colugos, identifying sleeping tree parameters and comparing them to non-sleeping trees. Using photography, we quantified the degree of camouflage between the Sunda colugos and their chosen sleeping trees by analysing and comparing the colour and pattern of fur to that of the sleeping trees’ bark. The main findings revealed the majority of sleeping trees were used only once and by one individual only; however, re-use of sleeping trees and small groups on a single tree were also recorded. Among the described structural parameters of trees, colugos selected those with larger crown diameter compared to smaller ones. Lastly, in terms of pattern and colour, Sunda colugos’ fur matched the pattern of their sleeping trees, but not the colour. Although preliminary, this study emphasizes the importance of studying the cryptic colouration of Sunda colugos, as it provides important insights into their anti-predation tactics, which furthers the understanding of these elusive and poorly studied animals.

Title: Emerging from darkness: trafficking and unregulated translocations imperils Bengal slow loris in Bangladesh
Author: Hasan
Highlights: 1. we analyzed media reports to evaluate the incidences of illegal trading, rescue operations, and relocation efforts concerning the Endangered Nycticebus bengalensis in Bangladesh. 2. These individuals were released presumably without following any guidelines and there are no data on post-release survivorship.

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