Artificial Lighting Hampers Nature; Bats, Grasslands, Songbirds Affected Adversely

Studies have shown that artificial lighting affects bud opening in plants, singing timing of songbirds, and habitation of bats. The research in this field has increased dramatically in past two years.

Artificial Lighting Is Harming

There has been an issue that has not gained much attention from masses across the world. This issue is related to adverse effects on the ecosystem. According to the nature, there are light days and dark nights. But scientists have been able to invent light to solve issues arising at light due to darkness for sake of human beings. Over the period of time, various inventions have been made related to artificial lighting. Though lighting on the streets help in keeping people safe at night, it has been affecting nightlife for insects and animals. New research by the ecologists outline adverse effects of artificial lighting and unnatural luminance of night sky, also known as skyglow, on nocturnal activities of plants and animals. Researchers are getting more concerned about light pollution. Studies show that artificial lighting at night impact ecosystem.

Scientists have stressed upon the problems and raised concerns that people have been showing concerns about greenhouse gas emission, but not about light pollution at night. The earth has evolved dramatically since the life evolved. The cycle of light and dark has a major effect on migration, reproduction, and others of every organism on the planet. May it be humans, cockroaches, birds, and others. But rise of artificial lighting in night greatly affects those cycles.

Satellite images showed that nearly 10 percent of the earth is equipped with artificial light at night. From 2012 to 2016, artificial light on outdoor areas increased by 2% every year. The emergence of LED lighting has driven its use in lighting owing to more energy efficiency than light bulbs. The disappearance of darkness at night disturbs behaviors of moths, bats, and crickets. Moreover, it affects migration of sea turtles and birds along with increasing transmission of diseases in birds.

Studies have also shown artificial lighting affects bud opening in plants. Scientists from United Kingdom studied timings of bud opening in plants for 13 years and satellite imagery of artificial lighting at night. They discovered a connection between them. They found that plants opened their buds a week earlier than expected. Another study conducted in Illinois found that maturation of soya-bean crops delayed up to seven weeks due to artificial lighting on adjacent roads and headlights by cars.

In one of the biggest experiments in the Netherlands on effect of artificial lighting on health of wild animals, scientists and volunteers found surprising results. Songbirds were roosting restlessly around lights. Furthermore, they slept less and their metabolism changed which led to poor health. Some studies found that songbirds sang early in the morning as females are more attracted to early-singing males. This early singing may have effect on reproduction system. But the study in the Netherlands found no effect on songbirds. The study also found that bats lost habitat and disappeared. However, it discovered that red light does not have any effect on bats. So, deployment of red light instead of white light could prove vital in these cases.

The effect of artificial lighting on grasslands play a crucial role. Scientists found that amber light, and white light, caused suppression of flowering in trefoil. They also observed a cascade effect in boxes lit with amber light. During August, pea aphids hop on flower heads for feasting. However, scientists found their number decreased due to lack of availability of food.

This field of research is moving ahead slowly. Scientists outlined that the research has advanced so much in past couple of years. However, more awareness would help dramatically in maintaining balance in ecosystem.


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