Friday, May 25, 2012

Light pollution could affect entire ecosystems

Light pollution still hasn’t become a globally recognized environmental issue. The light pollution continues to grow in many cities across the globe, and this is already having negative impact on many insects and other invertebrates.

The British scientists from the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campus have been studying the effects of light pollution on wildlife in cities. The conclusion of their study was that the "balance of different species living together is being radically altered as a result of light pollution in our towns and cities."

It is estimated that the light pollution in our cities is increasing by 6% a year on global level. This increase in light pollution is having negative effect on invertebrates, many of which are predators and scavengers.

Since nature is connected in one big food chain this could lead to decline in population of birds and mammals that rely on these species for food and the effects of excessive light pollution could therefore affect entire ecosystems.

The town of Helston in West Cornwall was the place where scientists have done their experiment. In order to get the relevant data they placed pitfall traps directly under and between street lamps that were 35 meters apart for a number of days and nights.

They were able to collect 1,194 individuals belonging to 60 different species. As expected the total numbers were significantly bigger under street lights, also including more predators and scavengers, such as ground beetles and harvestmen. This scenario was the same during the day as well during the night bringing the conclusion that the effect of light pollution on communities is ongoing.

Lead author of this study, Dr Tom Davies said that "we need to be aware of how the increase in artificial lighting is impacting on the delicate ecosystems on which we all rely."

Hopefully the results of this study will lead to further research that will show the world that we need to change the way we light our cities.

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