Insomniac Birds in City Might Have Trouble Remembering Songs Due to Pollution

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Laila Afifa

17 August 2022 21:02 WIB

TEMPO.CO, WellingtonResearchers from the University of Auckland are calling for more research on the effects of light and noise pollutions on birds' sleeping patterns, and the knock-on effects of sleep deprivation on their vocal communication.

Authors of the paper published on Wednesday, August 17, in the online journal of Biology Letters, said there are good reasons to predict that sleep deprivation could affect song-learning and memory, mating, and territorial behavior, with important implications for bird conservation in urban areas worldwide.

Sleep is found in every animal studied to date, from jellyfish and flatworms to birds and mammals. In humans, sleep deprivation affects speech and language learning, according to the paper, which is part of a PhD project researching the effects of sleep disturbances on Australian magpies and common mynas.

Birds use vocalizations for recognition, mate attraction, and resource defense, it said, adding that sleep disturbances will likely affect birds' vocal performance and learning. Vocal changes caused by lack of sleep might have adverse consequences for birds' reproductive success and survival.

Juliane Gaviraghi Mussoi, a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland's School of Biological Sciences, also an author on this paper, said, "When we have a bad night of sleep, it's hard to communicate effectively. Our speech gets slurred and we have a hard time expressing our thoughts. Birds seem to be having the same problem."

Birds sing to protect territory, find mates and communicate with each other. Therefore, if sleep disturbances, for example from light or noise pollution, can affect how birds sing, which can have negative consequences on birds' reproduction and even survival, Mussoi said.

"However, we are still learning about the effects a bad night of sleep can have on how birds sing," she said.

Xinhua

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