Lunar synchronization of daily activity patterns in a crepuscular avian insectivore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Biological rhythms of nearly all animals on earth are synchronized with natural light and are aligned to day-and-night transitions. Here, we test the hypothesis that the lunar cycle affects the nocturnal flight activity of European Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus). We describe daily activity patterns of individuals from three different countries across a wide geographic area, during two discrete periods in the annual cycle. Although the sample size for two of our study sites is small, the results are clear in that on average individual flight activity was strongly correlated with both local variation in day length and with the lunar cycle. We highlight the species’ sensitivity to changes in ambient light and its flexibility to respond to such changes in different parts of the world.


External organisations
  • Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology
  • Hasselt University
  • The Swiss Ornithological Institute
  • Wildlife Science and Conservation Center
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology


  • animal behavior, European Nightjar, foraging ecology, lunar cycle, migration, multi-sensor logger
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7106-7116
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number14
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul
Publication categoryResearch