Contributions to Zoology, 83 (4) – 2014Eva Johanna Rode-Margono; K. Anne-Isola Nekaris: Impact of climate and moonlight on a venomous mammal, the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus )

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Predation pressure, food availability, and activity may be affected by level of moonlight and climatic conditions. While many nocturnal mammals reduce activity at high lunar illumination to avoid predators (lunarphobia), most visually-oriented nocturnal primates and birds increase activity in bright nights (lunarphilia) to improve foraging efficiency. Similarly, weather conditions may influence activity level and foraging ability. We examined the response of Javan slow lorises (Nycticebus javanicus Geoffroy, 1812) to moonlight and temperature. We radio-tracked 12 animals in West Java, Indonesia, over 1.5 years, resulting in over 600 hours direct observations. We collected behavioural and environmental data including lunar illumination, number of human observers, and climatic factors, and 185 camera trap nights on potential predators. Nycticebus javanicus reduced active behaviours in bright nights. Although this might be interpreted as a predator avoidance strategy, animals remained active when more observers were present. We did not find the same effect of lunar illumination on two potential predators. We detected an interactive effect of minimum temperature and moonlight, e.g. in bright nights slow lorises only reduce activity when it is cold. Slow lorises also were more active in higher humidity and when it was cloudy, whereas potential predators were equally active across conditions. As slow lorises are well-adapted to avoid/defend predators by crypsis, mimicry and the possession of venom, we argue that lunarphobia may be due to prey availability. In bright nights that are cold, the combined effects of high luminosity and low temperature favour reduced activity and even torpor. We conclude that Javan slow lorises are lunarphobic – just as the majority of mammals.