, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 659–666 | Cite as

Activity levels of bats and katydids in relation to the lunar cycle

  • Alexander B. Lang
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
  • Heinrich Römer
  • Cecile Bockholdt
  • Dina K. N. Dechmann
Behavioural Ecology


Animals are exposed to many conflicting ecological pressures, and the effect of one may often obscure that of another. A likely example of this is the so-called “lunar phobia” or reduced activity of bats during full moon. The main reason for lunar phobia was thought to be that bats adjust their activity to avoid predators. However, bats can be prey, but many are carnivorous and therefore predators themselves. Thus, they are likely to be influenced by prey availability as well as predation risk. We investigated the activity patterns of the perch-hunting Lophostoma silvicolum and one of its main types of prey, katydids, to assess the influence of the former during different phases of the lunar cycle on a gleaning insectivorous bat. To avoid sampling bias, we used sound recordings and two different capture methods for the katydids, as well as video monitoring and radio-telemetry for the bats. Both, bats and katydids were significantly more active during the dark periods associated with new moon compared to bright periods around the full moon. We conclude that foraging activity of L. silvicolum is probably influenced by prey availability to a large extent and argue that generally the causes of lunar phobia are species-specific.


Lunar phobia Moonlight Activity patterns Predator Prey 



This project was supported by the Austrian Academy for Sciences (DOC-2002) and the Karl-Franzens-University of Graz to ABL, the Roche Research Foundation, the ZUNIV-Fonds zur Förderung des Akademischen Nachwuchses (FAN) to DKND, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF-P14257) to HR. and the German Science Foundation (DFG) to EKVK. The following people helped with the fieldwork: Maria Demir, Silke Heucke, Jamie Mandel, Anita Schulz, Moritz Weinbeer, and especially Christa Weise, who also helped with proof reading and important discussions. Kamran Safi helped with the data analysis. Frieder Neuhäuser-Wespy supported development of equipment. Robert Barclay, Mark Brigham, Johan Eklof, Alan McElligott, Sabine Spehn and two anonymous reviewers gave valuable input on drafts of this paper. We are grateful to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the National Authority for the Environment (ANAM) for research permits and logistical support, which ensured that all work was conducted in conformity with current Panamanian laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander B. Lang
    • 1
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
    • 2
    • 3
  • Heinrich Römer
    • 1
  • Cecile Bockholdt
    • 4
  • Dina K. N. Dechmann
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Neurobiology and Animal Behavior Institute for ZoologyKarl-Franzens-University GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.Experimental EcologyUniversity of Ulm Germany
  3. 3.Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Panama
  4. 4.Animal PhysiologyUniversity of Tübingen Germany
  5. 5.Zoologisches InstitutUniversität Zürich Switzerland

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