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Title

Moonlight makes owls more chatty

AuthorsPenteriani, Vincenzo ; Delgado, María del Mar ; Campioni, Letizia ; Lourenço, Rui
Issue Date2010
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 5 (2010)
AbstractBackground: Lunar cycles seem to affect many of the rhythms, temporal patterns and behaviors of living things on Earth. Ambient light is known to affect visual communication in animals, with the conspicuousness of visual signals being largely determined by the light available for reflection by the sender. Although most previous studies in this context have focused on diurnal light, moonlight should not be neglected from the perspective of visual communication among nocturnal species. We recently discovered that eagle owls Bubo bubo communicate with conspecifics using a patch of white throat plumage that is repeatedly exposed during each call and is only visible during vocal displays. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we provide evidence that this species uses moonlight to increase the conspicuousness of this visual signal during call displays. We found that call displays are directly influenced by the amount of moonlight, with silent nights being more frequent during periods with no-moonlight than moonlight. Furthermore, high numbers of calling bouts were more frequent at moonlight. Finally, call posts were located on higher positions on moonlit nights. Conclusions/Significance: Our results support the idea that moon phase affects the visual signaling behavior of this species, and provide a starting point for examination of this method of communication by nocturnal species. © 2010 Penteriani et al.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/62262
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0008696
Identifiersdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008696
issn: 1932-6203
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