The last 100 years have seen the dramatic spread of an evolutionarily unprecedented environmental change. Across huge areas, the spatial patterns and temporal cycles of light and dark that have previously remained approximately constant have been disrupted by the introduction of artificial night-time lights. This raises major concerns, given that light and dark provide critical resources and environmental conditions for organisms and play key roles in their physiology, growth, behaviour and reproduction, including the entrainment of internal biological clocks to local time. Indeed, it has long been recognised that light pollution of the night is likely to have profound consequences for the structure and functioning of populations and communities. Nonetheless, empirical studies of these effects remain wanting. This project will bring about a step change in understanding of the ecological consequences of night-time light pollution, addressing the principal question: How does the experimental manipulation of artificial night-time light influence population abundance, species composition and community structure? This will be answered using linked experimental studies. The results will have wide ramifications for understanding of the influences of rapid environmental change on population and community structure and of measures by which these can best be ameliorated.
Fields of science
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