Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
A regional public media collaboration serving the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Hiking, Other Human Activities Are Changing When Animals Sleep, Study Says

Tom Baker, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
A mountain goat being counted by helicopter.

A recent study published in Science magazine reports some animals are becoming more nocturnal. The cause is human activity.

Researchers studied animal behavior all over the world for the study. They found that mammals exposed to human activity tend to sleep more during the daytime and stay awake more at night.

They looked at everything from tigers in Nepal to bears and rabbits in the Mountain West. 

Kaitlyn Gaynor is a wildlife ecologist at University of California, Berkeley, and the lead author of the paper.

“What we found was the magnitude of this increase in nocturnality was pretty consistent across types of human activity. Even activities that we think of as leaving no trace, like hiking, are having a pretty dramatic consequence,” Gayner said.

Not all human activities affect animals equally. Hiking in the woods, for example, has less of an impact than development projects or deforestation.

This research is an important reminder that our actions change animal behavior, Gayner said, and that there is a limit of how many species can shift their activities to accommodate our own.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.