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Artificial night light has a wide impact on nature



Artificial light at night

Credit: Pixabay / CC0 public domain

Researchers say artificial light at night has many different effects in the natural world and should be limited if possible.


A research team led by the University of Exeter has gathered more than 1

00 studies and uncovered “wide-ranging” effects on animals and plants.

Changes in animals’ bodies and behavior – especially hormone levels and patterns of waking and sleeping – are always found.

Research has shown that levels of melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle) decreased with nighttime exposure to artificial light in all of the animals studied.

Professor Kevin Gaston of the Institute for Environment and Sustainability at Exeter’s Penryn Facility in Cornwall said: “A lot of research has looked at the impact of artificial light at night on specific species or species communities. .

“Our research brings those studies together – and we find the effects are very diverse and pervasive.

“Particularly strong reactions are seen in hormone concentrations, the length of daily activity in daytime species (daytime) and ‘life history’ characteristics such as number of offspring.

“One can imagine this is all about strong light, but in reality we’re seeing a lot of fairly low-level responses of artificial light.”

Dr. Dirk Sanders added: “We noticed a difference in nocturnal and daytime species.

“For rodents, which are predominantly nocturnal, the activity time tends to be reduced when illuminated at night.

“In contrast, for birds – with all species included entirely during the day – artificial light leads to a longer duration of activity, with chirping and foraging beginning earlier. . “

Previous studies have shown that lighting at night has a wide range of effects – from reducing insect pollination to trees that shoot earlier in spring.

Like climate change, nighttime light appears to benefit certain species in certain locations, but Professor Gaston says the clear message of the study is to reduce the light if possible.

“Both climate change and nighttime light are man-controlled and have a huge impact on the natural world,” he said.

“Historically, we weren’t really worried about the impact of light at night.

“Only now will we discover its large-scale effect.

“Our research shows that in principle, we should only use light at night where we need and need not go further, and at the intensity we need and not beyond.

“In fact, we need to treat light like any other pollutant.

“Obviously it would be ridiculous to say ‘turn off the lights of the world’ – but we can dramatically reduce our use of light without affecting ourselves at all.”

Professor Gaston is the scientific advisor of the upcoming landmark natural history series of night time, called “Earth at Night in Color.” This series was released on Apple. TV + on December 4th.

The article, published in the magazine Natural ecosystems and evolution, titled: “A meta-analysis of the biological effects of artificial light at night.”


Night light changes the way species interact


More information:
Synthesized analysis of the biological effects of artificial lighting at night, Natural ecosystems and evolution (Year 2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41559-020-01322-x, www.nature.com/articles/s41559-020-01322-x

Provided by Exeter University

Quote: Artificial Night Light has a wide impact on nature (2020, November 2) accessed November 2, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-artintic- night-widesosystem-world-world.html

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