What are Behavioral Adaptations?==
Behavioral adaptations are features/behaviors that organisms have evolved over time to alter how they react in respose to things. All organisms have adaptations that help them survive and adjust to new and changing things in their environment. Adaptations are the direct result of evolution, resulting in changes to behavior learned over time. Overtime, animals that are better adapted to survive and breed in their particular environment will continue on, furthering their genes and learned behavioral adaptations to future generations.
Examples of Behavioral Adaptations
- Bird calls
- Opossum playing dead
- Rabbits freezing mid-run to avoid being seen by predators
- Desert animals remain inactive during the day to avoid the harsh heat and conserve energy
Anthropogenic Barriers to Behavioral Adaptations
Artificial lighting is an anthropogenic threat to sea turtle adaptive behavior.
For adult female turtles, artificial lighting discourages nesting. After several false crawls, she may end up depositing her eggs in inappropriate places or even in the ocean. Your video was a good example of a false crawl. Primarily, artificial lighting near the shore is a threat to the young hatchlings as they attempt to make their way into the surf. Most researchers believe instinct leads the hatchlings in the brightest direction- moonlight over the ocean in undeveloped coastal regions. The problem occurs when the hatchlings are lured inland by artificial lighting. If the hatchlings are not preyed upon, run over by cars or drowned in swimming pools, they die of dehydration (Gaston, et. al, 2012).
What is most interesting to me is that nesting and hatching increase during a full moon and almost always occur between sunset and sunrise. This makes light pollution especially problematic. If you think about this adaptive behavior in terms of evolution, it makes sense for the nesting adult female and the hatchlings. Tides are highest during a full moon and this means the nesting female does not have to crawl as far (they are heavy and awkward on land) onto the beach to find a suitable nesting site; During a high tide, hatchlings do not have as far to crawl to find the safety of the surf. Hatchlings also rely on temperature cues to know when to emerge. There are less land predators around at night (think sea gulls) so the cool night air indicates a safer run for the surf (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).
Gaston, J.G. et. al (2012). Reducing the ecological consequences of night-time light pollution: options and developments. The Journal of Applied Ecology. 49(6):1256-1266.