'Round Midnight

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Science  01 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6000, pp. 12
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6000.12-d

Bird in the spotlight.


Increasingly, artificial light sources are found on the edges of urban areas, and Kempenaers et al. have investigated the effect of nighttime illumination on bird behavior and reproduction. From a 7-year study of the reproductive behavior of blue tits, they found that female birds laid eggs on average 1.5 days earlier when living in regions exposed to artificial lighting and that this effect was strongest in the birds nearest to the light sources. In addition, males started singing earlier in the pre-dawn hours, especially if they were younger, and males in lighted territories were more successful at extra-pair matings. The full human impact on the behavioral ecology of these blue tits is not known, but the authors conclude that it may result in differential selection for indicators of good genes among populations whose effects cannot yet be determined.

Curr. Biol. 20, 10.1016/j.cub.2010.08.028 (2010).

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