how light pollution affects animals
. We rarely stop to think that the night is necessary and good for life. Therefore, we do not realize that protecting the night sky is a valuable step to conserving bio-diversity. Most people think that, as we sleep at night, the rest of the species do the same, with a few exceptions, so it is of no concern if we send out a little light into the night time environment. A crass error. Naturalists know (and it would help if they said so more often) that the biological activity of our fauna is more intense at night than during the day and that this fauna needs the night for their normal activities.
-- The Importance of Protecting the Night SkyPere HortsDeputy Chairman of Cel Fosc. Catalonia. Spain For a billion years now, multi-cellular life on this Earth has existed with a regular and dependable day-night schedule of illumination levels in the environment. This regularity is ingrained into the DNA of species up and down our evolutionary tree to our biological advantage. Natural light entrains or regularizes basic and fundamental biological activities across species from plants to us humans.
The effects of light pollution on plants and animals in the environment are numerous and are becoming more known over time.In general, the most common action is that light pollution alters and interferes with the timing of necessary biological activities. For approximately half of all life, those crepuscular and nocturnal species that begin their daily activities at sundown, our artificial lights at night seriously constrain their lives, exposing them to predators and reducing the time they have to find food, shelter, or mates and reproduce.
To assume that other living organisms on this planet are just going to "adapt" to our newly created lighting schedules for commericial convenience is apathetically ignorant and insane. Unfortunately, it is far, far easier to setup a badly installed light outside than it is to understand the negative effects it casts down-light from it. For example, U.S. roadways contribute a huge amount of waste light.
All of that bad lighting could be redone by replacing the up-pointing 300W halogen bulbs with more efficient LED lights and by pointing the LEDs downwards. Overtime, this would cost far less for the taxpayers without causing a single change in the quality of information delivered to the traveler or to compromise their safety. Such lighting seems especially wasteful as headlights on cars are more than sufficient to light up signs, so the lights are not truly needed at all now.
It must be understood that white light sources, such as metal halides, CFLs or LEDs, must be used with caution! These lights emit high levels of bluish light that not only interferes with our night vision and our own health, but also with the well-being of animals. Other types of lighting, such as incandescent or high pressure sodium vapor lamps, produces high levels of reddish or even infrared light.
Their spectra interferes with the well-being of many types of plants. So no living species ever evolved to take advantage of continuous lighting. We should not be surprised that no species truly benefits from it in the long run. A swallowtail butterfly dead in the coils of a compact florescent light bulb. Just because a light bulb is energy efficient, does not mean that its white spectra is safe for animals.
Do you remember yellow bug friendly lights? Their yellow spectra is STILL needed and the preferred choice in outdoor lighting. Picture taken by Bryan Bodie and used with permission. However, bad lighting does not stop just at the roads. Tiffany Saleh wrote a good article on the "Effects of Artificial Lighting on Wildlife" explaining this in the WildlandsCPR.org's web site. This page provides an organizational overhead to some of the impacts that light pollution has on different species which have lived on this planet far longer than us "john-come-lately" humans.
The dark blue menu column on the left will also help you navigate these pages as they grow.In the span of a mere one hundred years, our creation of a never-occurring night is having some real effects on the animals that were here before us. For the same melatonin suppression problems we have with lights at night, creates similar problems in animals. Melatonin is the chronobiotic hormonal regulator of neoplastic cell growth, meaning that it is just the hormonal signal of our biological clock, is used for such functions in mammals worldwide.
Biologists describe it as being the most evolutionary conservative hormone that we know of, meaning that it is one of the oldest hormones known across the tree of life that basically signals to genes and organs whether it is daytime or not. Hence light pollution affects animals as well. A mere glance at the articles in the Light pollution vs. Human Health pages easily confirms this fact as melatonin testing is done over and over on rat species.
In fact, it is found in almost all organisms. But melatonin is more than just some ancient hormone buried deep within us and the animals that is being impacted. Night tells so many animals when to eat, when to sleep, when to hunt, when to migrate or even when to reproduce, it is estimated that half of all life on earth start their daily activities at sundown. Here is a brief, incomplete accounting of how light pollution harms those living outside our materialistic world.
Our Vanishing Night -- YouTube video by astrogirlwest What happens when all the dark places are gone? Light pollution: its real, destructive consequences are seldom recognized, but it is a problem with easy solutions that make economic sense. All living creatures rely on the Earth's regular rhythm of day and night to regulate internal cycles. Many use the protection of darkness to safely forage and mate.
We exist in a balance with our environment, a delicate balance that we are shifting. In the process we are also losing our connection to the night sky and the universe beyond. FLASH: A new study reports that lights on at night can worsen smog conditions for a city! Sunlight breaks down the nitrate radical NO3, so its levels build up during the night. As it does so, it neutralizes some of the other nitrogen oxides (NOx) that contribute to smog.
But it is not just sunlight that can break down NO3; any light can do this, especially those city lights that are left on all night long. Streetlights are often immediately next to the sources of the exhaust creating smog and are measured to be about 25 times stronger than the light of a full Moon. This combined effect reduces the natural cleaner NO3's levels down by 7%, which then increases the smog components by a non-negligible 5%.
Details can be found at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/night-lights-worsen-smog/. Now add to that the practice of additional outdoor lights on for the holiday season ... Click below to additional pages covering effects of light pollution on plants and animals in: The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.
-- Chief Luther Standing Bear Links to Other Sites The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has their own pages about light pollution effects on various biological organisms. Check them out as they are in the field, obseving these effects directly! The SkyKeepers.org out in California has their own Ecological Light Pollution page covering additional articles and reports on the effects of lights at night and the environment.
Department of PhysicsFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton, FloridaE-mail: evandern at fau dot eduPhone: 561 297 STAR (7827)See Also: Animal Shelter Chambersburg Pa
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Ad: Share: Share on Facebook Share Share on TwitterTweet Share on Google Plus Share Share on LinkedIn Share Send email Mail 72 Total Shares Light pollution has been, traditionally, seen as concentrating near or within high population areas, due to the high use of nighttime lights along streets, public areas, residences, and businesses. While much of the public is aware of a concept of light pollution, its ill effects and influences on society and nature are less clear to most people.
Furthermore, how light pollution is defined has not always been agreed, as many see nightlight as a benefit, while others simply see light pollution as more of an aesthetics issue. In fact, within geography, darkness has not always been attributed as a positive quality in urban contexts. Authors have called for a reassessment of dark spaces within urban areas so that greater awareness and perception of how light pollution can have detrimental effects is more evident.
 However, light pollution is generally defined as light that trespasses, over-illuminates, and interferes with astronomical observation. Impact of Light Pollution on Health Light pollution also has clear health and environmental detriments, including harming abilities to sleep, increasing possible cancer, and harming animal behavior, including migration. Linkages with health and wildlife have been a key focus in the geography literature.
One study showed that there is a 110% increase in prostate cancer probability in countries with higher levels of light pollution. This is seen to be driven by circadian disruption. In light of some urban or built-up regions that have very high levels of light pollution, such as in Hong Kong where it was determined that the urban areas are up to fifteen times brighter in the night, are evident.
 Light pollution along the Eastern Seaboard in the United States. Image: NASA. Light Pollution Affects Migratory Birds For animals, light pollution disruptions might be severe enough to threaten some species. Migratory birds, as one example, were found to be affected in their migratory pattern based on urban light pollution. In particular, juvenile birds undertaking their first migration are more likely to be affected.
 Among various species, certain bats in Europe have been found to be negatively affected in their nighttime behavior by artificial light, leading them to be increasingly threatened. Some species of bats, however, were found to be better adapted to artificial light conditions. Conservation and Light Pollution While campaigners continue to see the need to educate about light pollution, one idea has been to introduce world heritage or some type of protection status for places so that they can remain “dark” during nighttime hours.
This has been proposed, for instance, for places that have significance for astronomy, where observatories may increasingly find it harder to make measurements in the night sky as glow and other forms of pollution interfere with measurements. Particularly as artificial light has affected a variety of species, day and nighttime, where varieties of species have now been forced to adapt to artificial light, even in areas that might otherwise be normally be protected from other sources of pollution.
 In effect, creating a type of protection status can bring greater awareness and possible protection from light pollution. What is evident is that light pollution likely continues to be one of the less well known forms of pollution. The public still sees it as more of an annoyance, despite the scientific community demonstrating that clear health risks could be associated with light pollution. Threats to certain species and the environment are also other aspects threatened by light pollution.
Geographers have documented how light pollution attitudes could be changed, while campaigners have even considered giving world heritage status to places so that darkness can be better maintained for locations important to the scientific and other communities. References  For more on a recent study showing that light pollution is largely seen as an aesthetics issue, see: Lyytimäki, J. & Rinne, J.
(2013) Voices for the darkness: online survey on public perceptions on light pollution as an environmental problem. Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences. [Online] 10 (2), 127–139. Available from: doi:10.1080/1943815X.2013.824487.  For a recent assessment of perceptions on light and darkness in urban spaces, see: Edensor, T. (2015) The gloomy city: Rethinking the relationship between light and dark.
Urban Studies. [Online] 52 (3), 422–438. Available from: doi:10.1177/0042098013504009.  For more on the study linking light pollution and prostate cancer, see: Kloog, I., Haim, A., Stevens, R.G. & Portnov, B.A. (2009) Global Co‐Distribution of Light at Night (LAN) and Cancers of Prostate, Colon, and Lung in Men. Chronobiology International. [Online] 26 (1), 108–125. Available from: doi:10.
1080/07420520802694020. Ad:  For more on Honk Kong’s light pollution levels and monitoring, see: Pun, C.S.J., So, C.W., Leung, W.Y. & Wong, C.F. (2014) Contributions of artificial lighting sources on light pollution in Hong Kong measured through a night sky brightness monitoring network. Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer. [Online] 139, 90–108. Available from: doi:10.
1016/j.jqsrt.2013.12.014.  For more on bird migration and light pollution, see: La Sorte, F.A., Fink, D., Buler, J.J., Farnsworth, A., et al. (2017) Seasonal associations with urban light pollution for nocturnally migrating bird populations. Global Change Biology. [Online] Available from: doi:10.1111/gcb.13792 [Accessed: 7 August 2017].  For more on a study on bats and artificial light, see: Lacoeuilhe, A.
, Machon, N., Julien, J.-F., Le Bocq, A., et al. (2014) The Influence of Low Intensities of Light Pollution on Bat Communities in a Semi-Natural Context John Morgan Ratcliffe (ed.). PLoS ONE. [Online] 9 (10), e103042. Available from: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103042.  For more on a recent meeting discussing how a world heritage status framework, such as given by UNESCO, could be utilized to keep places dark, see: Smith, M.
G. (2015) Session 21.6: Preserving Dark Skies and Protecting Against Light Pollution in a World Heritage Framework. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. [Online] 11 (A29A), 480–489. Available from: doi:10.1017/S1743921316003628.  For more on types of species affected by light pollution, see: Gaston, K.J., Duffy, J.P., Gaston, S., Bennie, J., et al. (2014) Human alteration of natural light cycles: causes and ecological consequences.
Oecologia. [Online] 176 (4), 917–931. Available from: doi:10.1007/s00442-014-3088-2. See Also Share this article: Share on Facebook Share Share on TwitterTweet Share on Google Plus Share Share on LinkedIn Share Send email Mail 72 Total Shares