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Nine-banded armadillo (Dasyrus novemcinctus) activity patterns are influenced by human activity

November 1, 2021

As the human footprint upon the landscape expands, wildlife seeking to avoid human contact are losing the option of altering their spatial distribution and instead are shifting their daily activity patterns to be active at different times than humans. In this study, we used game cameras to evaluate how human development and activity were related to the daily activity patterns of the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) along an urban to rural gradient in Arkansas, USA during the winter of 2020–2021. We found that armadillos had substantial behavioral plasticity in regard to the timing of their activity patterns; >95% of armadillo activity was nocturnal at six of the study sites, whereas between 30% and 60% of activity occurred during the day at three other sites. The likelihood of diurnal armadillo activity was best explained by the distance to downtown Fayetteville (the nearest population center) and estimated ambient sound level (both indices of human activity) with armadillos being most active during the day at quiet sites far from Fayetteville. Furthermore, armadillo activity occurred later during the night period (minutes after sunset) at sites near downtown and with higher anthropogenic sound. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the observed activity shift may be in response to not only human activity but also the presence of domestic dogs. Our results provide further evidence that human activity has subtle nonlethal impacts on even common, widespread wildlife species. Because armadillos have low body temperatures and basal metabolism, being active during cold winter nights likely has measurable fitness costs. Nature reserves near human population centers may not serve as safe harbors for wildlife as we intend, and managers could benefit from considering these nonlethal responses in how they manage recreation and visitation in these natural areas.

Publication Year 2021
Title Nine-banded armadillo (Dasyrus novemcinctus) activity patterns are influenced by human activity
DOI 10.1002/ece3.8257
Authors Brett Alexander DeGregorio, C. Gale, E. V. Lassiter, A. Massey, Caleb Powell Roberts, J. Veon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70229720
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta