A groundbreaking study has proved that man-made light sources can change natural light cycles, triggering abnormal animal behavior that often leads to injury and even death.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, confirms that polarized light pollution can cause confusion in creatures that rely on light ‘cues’ to navigate through their environment, with many animals also thrown off course by light reflecting from buildings.
According to author Bruce Robertson, an ecologist at Michigan State University, “Environmental cues, such as the intensity of light, that animals use to make decisions occur at different levels of severity in the natural world. When cues become unnaturally intense, animals can respond unnaturally strongly to them.”
The effect is particularly damaging for creatures like dragonflies and other insects, which often mistake the light reflected off buildings for ponds, streams or lakes, vital for laying eggs and nurturing offspring through their first phase of life.
The study’s author’s found that white hatch marks on roads can prevent insects from mistaking them for bodies of water, while the use of white curtains in shiny black buildings can also deter insects, bats and birds.
According to Robertson, “It’s yet another case where we’re faced with a choice between what’s more expensive or what’s better for biodiversity. Aquatic insects are the foundation of the food web, and what’s harmful to them is harmful to entire ecosystems and the services they provide.”
Image Credit – makelessnoise via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license