Street lighting has detrimental impacts on local insect populations

Boyes, Douglas H. ORCID:; Evans, Darren M.; Fox, Richard; Parsons, Mark S.; Pocock, Michael J.O.. 2021 Street lighting has detrimental impacts on local insect populations. Science Advances, 7 (35), eabi8322. 8, pp.

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Reported declines in insect populations have sparked global concern, with artificial light at night (ALAN) identified as a potential contributing factor. Despite strong evidence that lighting disrupts a range of insect behaviors, the empirical evidence that ALAN diminishes wild insect abundance is limited. Using a matched-pairs design, we found that street lighting strongly reduced moth caterpillar abundance compared with unlit sites (47% reduction in hedgerows and 33% reduction in grass margins) and affected caterpillar development. A separate experiment in habitats with no history of lighting revealed that ALAN disrupted the feeding behavior of nocturnal caterpillars. Negative impacts were more pronounced under white light-emitting diode (LED) street lights compared to conventional yellow sodium lamps. This indicates that ALAN and the ongoing shift toward white LEDs (i.e., narrow- to broad-spectrum lighting) will have substantial consequences for insect populations and ecosystem processes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2375-2548
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 04 Oct 2021 15:26 +0 (UTC)

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