Bright artificial light at night is associated with increased body mass, poor reproductive success and compromised disease tolerance in Australian budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)

Itay Malek, Abraham Haim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Artificial light at night (ALAN) can cause circadian disruption and result in adverse behavioral and ecological effects in free-living birds, but studies on captive pet birds as companion animals have been infrequent. We studied the effects of exposure to bright ALAN on body mass, melatonin sulfate levels, reproduction and disease severity in Australian budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) kept in captivity. During the experiment, birds were kept under outdoor temperature, humidity and natural photoperiod from September to December. A total of 48 birds were equally split into 4 groups (6 mating pairs each) and concurrently exposed to ALAN of 200 lux with different duration (0, 30, 60 and 90 min). Monthly observations were recorded for all dependent parameters. ALAN exposure increased mass gain and suppressed melatonin levels in a dose-dependent manner, especially during December. In addition, ALAN exposure in all duration groups decreased egg production and reduced hatchability from 61% ± 14% in the ALAN-unexposed control group to 0% in the ALAN-exposed birds. Disease severity was also found to increase in line with the duration of ALAN exposure. In captive M. undulatus, ALAN exposure was demonstrated to affect photoperiodic regulation with subsequent excess mass gain and reproduction impairment, and increased susceptibility to infections plausibly through duration dose-dependent suppression of melatonin. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a possible association between acute bright ALAN of increasing duration and both natural development of infections as well as reproductive cessation in captive birds. Our findings could be used to improve breeding conditions of captive birds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalIntegrative Zoology
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd

Keywords

  • avian model
  • circadian disruption
  • disease susceptibility
  • light pollution
  • stress responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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