The dark side of street lighting: impacts on moths and evidence for the disruption of nocturnal pollen transport

TitleThe dark side of street lighting: impacts on moths and evidence for the disruption of nocturnal pollen transport
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMacgregor, CJ, Evans, DM, Fox, R, Pocock, MJO
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume23
Pagination697-707
AbstractAmong drivers of environmental change, artificial light at night is relatively poorly understood, yet is increasing on a global scale. The community-level effects of existing street lights on moths and their biotic interactions have not previously been studied. Using a combination of sampling methods at matched-pairs of lit and unlit sites, we found significant effects of street lighting: moth abundance at ground level was halved at lit sites, species richness was >25% lower, and flight activity at the level of the light was 70% greater. Furthermore, we found that 23% of moths carried pollen of at least 28 plant species and that there was a consequent overall reduction in pollen transport at lit sites. These findings support the disruptive impact of lights on moth activity, which is one proposed mechanism driving moth declines, and suggest that street lighting potentially impacts upon pollination by nocturnal invertebrates. We highlight the importance of considering both direct and cascading impacts of artificial light.

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