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Researchers find concerning behavioral changes among mountain goats: 'We found that activity is higher in the areas with wolves'

This unfortunate trend among mammals is not unique to mountain goats.

This unfortunate trend among mammals is not unique to mountain goats.

Photo Credit: iStock

Mountain goats have recently changed their habits by becoming more nocturnal than ever before, and scientists believe our warming planet is to blame.

What's happening?

A team of researchers in Sardinia tracked Alpine ibex from 2006 to 2019 and found that on hotter days, the species was more active at night — even in areas populated with larger nocturnal predators. 

This unfortunate trend among mammals is not unique to mountain goats, meaning traditional habits of animals are changing because of warmer temperatures.

Why is this concerning? 

Braving the night exposes mountain goats to predators, such as eagles, bears, and wolves. 

In the Guardian article, Dr. Francesca Brivio, co-author of the study, said: "We expected higher levels of nocturnal activity in Switzerland where wolves were not present, but we found the opposite. We found that activity is higher in the areas with wolves." 

Species are opting to put their lives at risk to escape excessive heat, which is directly correlated to climate change.

Brivio added, "If during the day it is too hot to eat or to be active, they will prefer to perform all their activities, like foraging, at night."

This would directly affect the mountain goat population as they'd be more susceptible as prey and have a harder time navigating the rocky terrain they're accustomed to. This puts the animal at an extreme disadvantage when foraging for food, which they need to survive.

This new direction will also make it more difficult for scientists and biologists to track the mammal's habits and population.

"Generally census activities are conducted with direct observation during daylight areas … In the future animals will be more active during the night … so we will have to find other techniques to count animals," Brivio told the Guardian.

What can I do to help protect the goats? 

Protecting mountain goats and ensuring long-term survival will ultimately require a collaborative effort between government agencies, conservation organizations, and people who care. 

Raising awareness and talking to your friends is an easy way to open the doors to meaningful and insightful conversations about reducing individual impact on the environment. Everything is easier when you do it together.

Luckily, there are myriad things you can do to help cool things down around here, and the best part is that it can save you money in the long run.

Simply rethinking the ways you clean, take care of your lawn, or vacation are small ways to make giant changes.

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