Difference Between Nocturnal and Diurnal

Nocturnal vs Diurnal

Biological organisms have biological clocks to facilitate them with the times to be active in order to fulfil their requirements. Usually, a day (24 hours) is the main temporal unit of biological species and the main times are the daytime and nighttime. Organisms could be divided into two main groups, based on the time that they are active, which are nocturnal and diurnal. There are many differences between nocturnal and diurnal organisms and the most important of those are discussed in this article.


Nocturnal is an adjective that is used to describe the organisms that are active during the night. Usually, animals active in the night are described as nocturnal, but there are many plant species that show this behaviour too. The main obstacle for the nocturnal creatures is the lack of sunlight, and they have overcome the problem in such a way that the night being a blessing to fulfil their requirements. There are many adaptations exhibited by the nocturnal animals, to maximize the use of the nighttime. Bats, owls, most of the serpents, many mammals, number of invertebrates, and a range of plant species can be brought out as examples for the nocturnal organisms.

The basic biological needs such as feeding and breeding activities are performed during the time an organism is active, which is the nighttime in this case. Apart from the lack of sunlight, the incidences of sounds are very low in the night. Therefore, nocturnal animals such as bats and owls take a great advantage of that opportunity by adapting with improved hearing and vocal systems. In fact, bats have a highly developed auditory system with a wide range of sensitive frequencies that easily exceeds the many audible frequencies of other animals including humans. Some of the insect species have developed light-emitting organ systems to overcome the obstacle of darkness. However, there are many organisms with developed adaptations for breeding in the night such as frogs and plants. Usually, plants store energy via photosynthesis during daytime but bloom during the night, to attract insects with wonderful fragrances and colors. The more the adaptations of nocturnal organism are understood, the better it reveals that they have made the world is an ever active place with biological creatures.


When an organism keeps active during daytime, that organism is known as diurnal organism. The light and the heat during daytime have been the major physical conditions that favour the diurnal organisms. Almost all the plant species are diurnal as they store the solar energy through photosynthesis, which is possible to perform during daytime only. Since plants being the primary source of energy for the animals (in the form of edible food), many animals are also diurnal. Many reptiles and other ectothermic animals are diurnal, which helps them to maintain their body temperature through the heat from the external environment. However, there are many species of nocturnal reptiles despite the energy gathering is done during daytime. Plants choose to be diurnal or nocturnal depending on the time where the most effective pollinators are active. Usually, most of the insect species being diurnal and effective pollinators, majority of the flowering plants have chosen to be diurnal to achieve an effective pollination. Since it is easy to spot and catch the prey species during daytime, most of the predator animals are diurnal. Additionally, most of the herbivorous animals are diurnal, which is mainly because of the fact that storage of generated food in plants via photosynthesis is taken away from the leaves during the night. There are umpteen examples to describe diurnal organisms with advantages of being so, and they make the vast majority of the biological creatures of the world.

What is the difference between Nocturnal and Diurnal?

• Nocturnal is when an organism is active in the night, whereas diurnal is the opposite of that.

• There are much more diurnal organisms than the number of nocturnal species.

• It would be difficult to compare the number of diurnal animals and diurnal plants, yet the number of nocturnal animals would be higher than nocturnal plants.

• Diurnal species advertise through colors and other visible parameters, whereas nocturnal species mainly depend on audible parameters.


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