Sloths Get Better Schedule due to Human Involvement in the Amazon

Researchers have made an important discovery while looking into the brown-throated three-toed sloths. This animal has no predators anymore and is food is much more accessible than it is for other specimens of the species, so the animals have adapted to have a mostly diurnal schedule. That means that they spend their time awake during the day.

The Setting

This research was performed during a very disturbed section of the Atlantic forest, located somewhere in Northeastern Brazil. Scientists have made sure to record the behavior of the sloths and their circadian rhythm over 29 days. They have published the results in Mammalian Biology, an academic journal. In their paper, they present a unique concept regarding the activity of humans in the forest.

It would seem that development, deforestation, fire setting on purpose and hunting that takes place during the night have caused a lot of problems for some animals. On the other hand, the brown-throated three-toed sloths actually benefit from these activities, as they have shifted their rhythm from a nocturnal one to a daytime one.

The Research

According to Giles Duffeld, an associate professor affiliated with the Department of Biological Sciences, part of the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of this fascinating study, the environmental disturbances in the region are definitely not the best case scenario from the perspective of the conservation of species.

Regardless, the results for the sloths, which are fewer predators and much easier access to their most important sources of food have had an absolutely positive impact, at least according to the observations of the researchers. All these factors have enabled the sloths to have a much more comprehensive schedule.

Studies in the past have all focused on the activity of sloths in completely undisturbed forests. This particular research, on the other hand, observes the sloths in a disturbed environment and over their entire day.