Light Pollution Transforming Insect Communities
We depend on a ton of electricity on this earth and lighting our neighborhoods is part of that. While there's an environmental impact, there's also another issue brewing that researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered.
The study shows for the first time that the balance of different species living together is being radically altered as a result of light pollution in our towns and cities
Believed to be increasing by six per cent a year globally, artificial lighting is already known to affect individual organisms, according to the report. However, this is the first time that its impact on whole communities has been investigated.
This study shows that groups of invertebrates living near to artificial lights include more predators and scavengers. This could be impacting on the survival rates of different species, having a knock-on effect on birds and mammals that rely on these species for food. The effects could be affecting entire ecosystems and even humans.
The research team based their study in the market town of Helston in West Cornwall. They placed pitfall traps directly under and between street lamps that were 35 meters apart for a number of days and nights. This allowed them to compare, not only results for day and night, but also differences between areas under and away from street lights.
Researchers collected 1,194 individuals covering 60 species. They discovered that total numbers were more abundant under street lights, where they also found more predatory and scavenging species, such as ground beetles and harvestmen. This was the case during the day, as well as at night, suggesting that the effect on communities is ongoing.