Bright moonlight triggers natal dispersal departures

Aebischer, Adrian; Arlettaz, Raphaël; Penteriani, Vincenzo; Delgado, María del Mar; Kuparinen, Anna; Saurola, Pertti; Valkama, Jari; Salo, Eino; Toivola, Jere (2014). Bright moonlight triggers natal dispersal departures. Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, 68(5), pp. 743-747. Springer 10.1007/s00265-014-1687-x

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Upon leaving their natal area, dispersers are confronted with unknown terrains. Species-specific perceptual ranges (i.e. the maximum distance from which an individual can perceive landscape features) play a crucial role in spatial movement decisions during such wanderings. In nocturnal animals that rely on vision, perceptual range is dramatically enhanced during moonlight, compared to moonless conditions. This increase of the perceptual range is an overlooked element that may be responsible for the successful crossing of unfamiliar areas during dispersal. The information gathered from 143 radio-tagged eagle owl Bubo bubo juveniles in Spain, Finland and Switzerland shows that, although the decision to initiate dispersal is mainly an endogenous phenomenon determined by the attainment of a given age (∼6 months), dispersers leave their birthplace primarily under the best light conditions at night, i.e. when most of the lunar disc is illuminated. This sheds new light into the mechanisms that may trigger dispersal from parental territory.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)

UniBE Contributor:

Aebischer, Adrian and Arlettaz, Raphaël


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

30 Mar 2015 11:54

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2015 10:29

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