Advocacy for better protection of nocturnal biodiversity

We have known for several years that artificial light created by human activity is causing great harm to nighttime ecosystems and disrupting the life cycle of species. With a decrease of almost 15% in dark areas, the actions taken against heavy pollution are very insufficient and should be widely developed to restore ecological continuity, where the night should be as natural as possible. For this, French and foreign scientists wrote:promoting the global development of dark infrastructure for biodiversity”, published in the journal Landscape and urban planning in March 2022, with the aim of making this concept known worldwide and suggesting effective courses of action.

Minimum impact

The impact of light on animal species has been known for over a century and remains relevant to this day. “The diurnal cycles of each species are not sufficiently taken into account in the conservation strategies already in place in the green and blue boxes. (an approach aimed at maintaining and restoring the network of exchanges so that animal and plant species can provide their life cycle, editor’s note)“, points to Science and the future Romain Sordello, mixed plant environmental engineer Patrinate (at the origins of advocacy), working with OFB (French Office for Biodiversity), CNRS and MNHN. “A lot happens at night, but mostly we think about the day because of a lack of understanding of the effect that light, characterized by its ambient and diffuse influence, can have on species. It is known that light pollution affects all levels of life of species, from the gene of an individual to entire ecosystems and on various traits, such as growth, survival, fertility or mobility.develops an ecologist. Even in nature reserves, where fauna and flora should be best protected, species are largely unprotected from light pollution. The light does not stop at the zoning determined by the policy of the reserve, and creates pressure zones inside it..”

Examples of mechanisms of impact of light pollution on biodiversity. Credits: Patrinat, R. Sordello et al.

One of the reasons for the decline in biodiversity

The statement states that “light pollution may be one reason for the worldwide collapse of insect populations“. The phenomenon is easy to observe in the summer near street lights, where hundreds of insects flutter next to the luminous halo. Romain Sordello adds that “the movement of nocturnal species is very parasitic due to light pollution and, in particular, insects and birds that use the natural light of the firmament to move during their migration or during their diurnal movement. Artificial lighting acts as a real light trap for these species, stuck in an endless rotation until they die of exhaustion. To In contrast to their attractive effect on birds and insects, light structures such as roads or bridges have a repulsive effect on land mammals, bats or even reptiles, creating here, again, real problems in population movement.“Habitat fragmentation leads to problems of isolation of populations and, consequently, to disruption of interspecies relationships, which leads to cascading effects, for example, on competition or genetic diversity.

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