The lunar cycle drives the nightjar’s migration

GPS tracking information exposes that the foraging activity of the European nightjar more than doubles throughout moon-lit nights, and the birds then move at the same time about 10 days after the moon, according to a research study released October 15 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Gabriel Norevik and Anders Hedenström of Lund University in Sweden, and associates.

Every year, billions of seasonal migrants link continents by carrying nutrients, energy and pathogens in between far-off neighborhoods and communities. If access to food resources differs cyclically over the season, migrants conscious modifications in everyday energy consumption rates might change the timing of migration appropriately. As an effect, people adapting to a typical temporal cycle are anticipated to approach synchrony in foraging and motion. A massive regular pattern, such as the dark-light cycle of the moon, has the prospective to integrate migrations throughout animal populations, however such cyclic impacts on the temporal policy of migration have actually not been shown.

In the brand-new research study, the scientists show the temporal impact of the lunar cycle on motion activity and migration techniques in the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europeaus), which is both a nighttime insectivore that hunts by sight and long-distance migrant, taking a trip in between north European breeding locations and wintering premises in southern Africa.

The scientists utilized archival Worldwide Positioning System information loggers, light-level geolocation and multisensor data-loggers to record the motions of 39 people. They discovered that the everyday foraging activity more than doubled throughout moon-lit nights, and this led to a clear cycle in the strength of migratory motions, with approximately 100% of the birds moving at the same time following full-moon durations.

Taken together, the results recommend that cyclic impacts can integrate pulses of migration, with possible downstream impacts on associated neighborhoods and communities. According to the authors, thinking about the temporal characteristics of pertinent ecological aspects, such as heavenly bodies, might be an appealing inroad to even more our understanding of the seasonal pulses of animal migrations and their impacts.

The authors go on to state, “This new aspect of animal migration could prove important for our understanding about the dynamics of migrants and their trophic effects. A next step will be to explore how general the moon cycle is as temporal regulator of movements in animal migrants. Using miniaturized data-loggers that allowed us to measure individual bird’s flight activity throughout their annual cycle we provide a telling example how modern technologies open new doors in the study of animal behaviour.”


Peer-reviewed / Speculative Research Study / Animals

In your protection please utilize this URL to offer access to the easily offered short article in PLOS Biology:

Citation: Norevik G, Åkesson S, Andersson A, Bäckman J, Hedenström A (2019) The lunar cycle drives migration of a nighttime bird. PLoS Biol 17(10): e3000456.

Financing: The research study got assistance from the Swedish Research Study Council ( to AH (621-2012-3585, 2016-03625) and SÅ (621-2013-4361, 2016-05342), and the Centre for Animal Motion Research Study (CAnMove), funded by a Linnaeus grant (349-2007-8690) from the Swedish Research Study Council ( and Lund University ( The funders had no function in research study style, information collection and analysis, choice to release, or preparation of the manuscript.

Completing Interests: The authors have actually stated that no contending interests exist.

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