Lighting up our waterways: Impacts of a current mitigation strategy on riparian bats

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Abstract

Increasing levels of artificial light at night (ALAN) are a major threat to global biodiversity and can have negative impacts on a wide variety of organisms and their ecosystems. Nocturnal species such as bats are highly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of ALAN. A variety of lighting management strategies have been adopted to minimise the impacts of ALAN on wildlife, however relatively little is known about their effectiveness. Using an experimental approach, we provide the first evidence of negative impacts of part-night lighting (PNL) strategies on bats. Feeding activity of Myotis spp. was reduced along rivers exposed to PNL despite no reduction in overall bat activity. We also provide the first evidence of negative effects of PNL on both feeding and activity for Pipistrellus pipistrellus which has previously been recorded feeding under artificial light.

Despite having considerable energy-saving benefits, we outline the potential negative impacts of PNL schemes for bats in riparian habitats. PNL are unlikely to provide desired conservation outcomes for bats, and can potentially fragment important foraging habitats leading to a breakdown of functional connectivity across the landscape. We highlight the potential dichotomy for strategies which attempt to simultaneously address climate change and biodiversity loss and recommend alternative management strategies to limit the impacts of ALAN on biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119552
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume307
Early online date31 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022

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