Artificial night time light from sources such as street lamps affects the growth and flowering of plants and even the number of insects that depend on those plants for food, a study published today confirms.
The research shows that light pollution can impact the natural environment in complex ways that may be hard to predict. Due to the global extent of artificial light at night, there are concerns that these ecological impacts may be widespread.
Researchers from the University of Exeter simulated the effects of street lighting on artificial grassland plots containing a community of invertebrates at night, exposing them to two different types of light treatment - a 'white' light similar to newer commercial LED street lighting systems and an 'amber' light simulating the type of sodium street lamp still found in much of the UK. The experiments investigated both top-down (driven by predators) and bottom-up (food or resource limited) effects of the lights on the population density of a species of pea aphid, and in the presence and absence of predators including ladybirds
Credit: Jon Bennie/University of Exeter
Researchers from the University of Exeter simulated the effects of street lighting on artificial grassland plots containing a community of invertebrates at night, exposing them to two different types of light treatment - a 'white' light similar to newer commercial LED street lighting systems and an 'amber' light simulating the type of sodium street lamp still found in much of the UK.
The experiments investigated both top-down (driven by predators) and bottom-up (food or resource limited) effects of the lights on the population density of a species of pea aphid, and in the presence and absence of predators including ladybirds.
The low intensity amber light was shown to inhibit, rather than induce, flowering in greater bird's foot trefoil, a wild relative of peas and beans that is a key source of food for the pea aphid in grasslands and road verges. In mid summer aphids feed on the flowering shoots; the number of aphids was significantly suppressed under the light treatment in mid-August due to the limited amount of food available.
Professor Kevin Gaston, Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) said: "These are the first findings from major long-term experiments being funded by the European Research Council, and already reveal how profound the impacts of artificial night time lighting can be on even simple communities of organisms."
Dr Jonathan Bennie of the ESI added: "Our results suggest that by lighting up our night time environment we trigger complex effects on natural food webs. While we are all aware that street lights often attract insects at night, we show that they may have more permanent, widespread impacts on wildlife and ecosystems."
'Cascading effects of artificial light at night: resource-mediated control of herbivores in a grassland ecosystem' by Jonathan Bennie, Thomas W. Davies, David Cruse, Richard Inger and Kevin J. Gaston is published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
The paper is part of a special themed issue of the journal entitled 'The biological impacts of artificial light at night: from molecules to communities', organised and edited by Kevin Gaston, Marcel Visser and Franz Hölker.
Eleanor Gaskarth | EurekAlert!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Life Sciences
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences