Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Light pollution transforming insect communities

Date:
May 22, 2012
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Street lighting is transforming communities of insects and other invertebrates, according to new research. 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 percent a year globally, artificial lighting is already known to affect individual organisms, but this is the first time that its impact on whole communities has been investigated.

Las Vegas at night. Street lighting is transforming communities of insects and other invertebrates.
Credit: Andres Rodriguez / Fotolia

Street lighting is transforming communities of insects and other invertebrates, according to research by the University of Exeter.

Published in the journal Biology Letters, 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, but 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.

They 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.

Lead author Dr Tom Davies of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus said: "Our study shows that light pollution could be having a dramatic effect on wildlife in our towns and cities. We need to be aware of how the increase in artificial lighting is impacting on the delicate ecosystems on which we all rely. Our research shows, for the first time, the changes that light pollution is making to entire communities of invertebrates. We now need to examine what impact this is having on other communities and how this may be affecting important ecosystem services and whether we should change the way we light urban spaces."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. W. Davies, J. Bennie, K. J. Gaston. Street lighting changes the composition of invertebrate communities. Biology Letters, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0216

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Light pollution transforming insect communities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522200835.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2012, May 22). Light pollution transforming insect communities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522200835.htm
University of Exeter. "Light pollution transforming insect communities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522200835.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins