Nav: Home

Skyglow over key wildlife areas

February 10, 2019

Light pollution affects the skies over most of the world's key wildlife areas, new research shows.

The study, by the University of Exeter and Birdlife International, focussed on "skyglow" - light scattered and reflected into the atmosphere that can extend to great distances.

Researchers found less than a third of the world's Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) have completely pristine night skies, and more than half lie entirely under artificially bright skies.

Night-time light has been shown to have wide-ranging effects on individual species and entire ecosystems.

"These results are troubling because we know many species can respond even to small changes in night-time light," said lead author Dr Jo Garrett, of the University of Exeter.

"Night-time lighting is known to affect microbes, plants and many groups of animals such crustaceans, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

"It has an enormous range of effects, including causing trees to produce leaves earlier in the season and birds to sing earlier in the day, changing the proportion of predators in animal communities, and changing the cycling of carbon in ecosystems. Some effects can occur at very low light levels."

KBAs are places identified by the KBA Partnership as being important for preserving global biodiversity, and the new study uses a recent atlas of skyglow to see how KBAs are affected.

"Pristine" skies were defined as those with artificial light no more than 1% above the natural level.

At 8% or more above natural conditions, light pollution extends from the horizon to the zenith (straight upwards) and the entire sky can be considered polluted.

The findings showed:
  • 29.5% of KBAs had completely pristine night-time skies.
  • 51.5% contained no area with pristine night skies.
  • 21% were entirely under night skies polluted to the zenith.
  • 51.9% of KBAs were completely free of skies polluted to the zenith
  • 46% of KBAs in the Middle East were entirely under skies polluted to the zenith. The next-highest figures were Europe (34%) and the Caribbean (32%).
"Unsurprisingly, the likelihood of skyglow tends to increase in areas with higher GDP, and in areas with higher human population density," said senior author Professor Kevin Gaston.

"This suggests that the proportion of KBAs experiencing skyglow will increase in parallel with the development of economies.

"Skyglow could be reduced by limiting outdoor lighting to levels and places where it is needed, which would also result in considerable cost savings and lower energy use."

The paper, published in the journal Animal Conservation, is entitled: "Skyglow extends into the world's Key Biodiversity Areas."
-end-


University of Exeter

Related Light Pollution Articles:

Arctic light pollution affects fish, zooplankton up to 200 metres deep
If artificial light shines into the Arctic Ocean during the polar night, does it matter?
Catching light: How cobalt can help utilize visible light to power hydrogen production from water
Scientists at Tokyo Tech demonstrate the first visible-light photoelectrochemical system for water splitting using TiO2 enhanced with an earth-abundant material -- cobalt.
Controlling light with light
Researchers from Harvard have developed a new platform for all-optical computing, meaning computations done solely with beams of light.
Lights out? Fireflies face extinction threats of habitat loss, light pollution, pesticides
Habitat loss, pesticide use and, surprisingly, artificial light are the three most serious threats endangering fireflies across the globe, raising the specter of extinction for certain species whose features render them more vulnerable to specific threats.
Light-up wheels: Unique organic light-emitting molecular emitters
Researchers at Osaka University synthesized novel OLEDs based on efficient ring-shaped molecular macrocycles.
Light pollution can suppress melatonin production in humans and animals
Melatonin sets the internal clock. Researchers from Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in an international team have analyzed data on the impact of light pollution on melatonin formation in humans and vertebrates.
Four ways to curb light pollution, save bugs
Artificial light at night negatively impacts thousands of species: beetles, moths, wasps and other insects that have evolved to use light levels as cues for courtship, foraging and navigation.
Machine learning enhances light-beam performance at the advanced light source
A team of researchers at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley has successfully demonstrated how machine-learning tools can improve the stability of light beams' size for science experiments at a synchrotron light source via adjustments that largely cancel out unwanted fluctuations.
Shedding light on the reaction mechanism of PUVA light therapy for skin diseases
Together with their Munich-based colleagues, a team of physical chemists from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has clarified which chemical reactions take place during PUVA therapy.
Light pollution may be increasing West Nile virus spillover from wild birds
House sparrows infected with West Nile virus (WNV) that live in light polluted conditions remain infectious for two days longer than those who do not, increasing the potential for a WNV outbreak by about 41%.
More Light Pollution News and Light Pollution Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.