19 March 2014

Animals may see UV flashes from power lines

The video, from a helicopter company, shows imaging of UV discharges from power lines.  Its relevance to the natural world is discussed at Slate:
In a report published in Conservation Biology, the scientists wrote that animals’ avoidance of power cables is likely linked with their ability to detect ultraviolet light. While the spectrum of light emitted from the lines is beyond what humans can see, it is visible to birds, rodents, and reindeer. These animals may see power cables as randomly flashing bands...

It has been known since the 1970s that birds can see UV light, and more recent studies have shown that many (mostly small) mammals can, too. Reindeer, more so than many other large mammals, have retinas that are adapted to living in the dark, which helps them forage for food during long Arctic winters. That, combined with the fact that UV light is more visible in snowy landscapes due to reflection, means that reindeer are particularly sensitive to the apparent flashing of power cables.

1 comment:

  1. If wind-powered turbines--which cause so many bird deaths--emitted some sort of UV frequency, would that enable birds to see and avoid them?


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