Tamir, R., Eyal, G., Cohen, I., & Loya, Y. (2020). Effects of Light Pollution on the Early Life Stages of the Most Abundant Northern Red Sea Coral. Microorganisms, 8(2).
Abstract: The growth in human population along coastal areas is exposing marine environments to increasing anthropogenic light sources. Despite the potential effects of this modern phenomenon, very few studies have examined its implications for corals. Here, we present a long-term study of coral early life stages under light pollution conditions at night. Coral larvae were collected from Stylophora pistillata colonies, and then settled and grown under experimental conditions of two different common city lighting methods (fluorescent or LED). Effects of the artificial lighting on the coral settlement success, survivorship, growth rate, photosynthetic efficiency, and calcification rate were examined over a period of one year. The control exhibited ~30% higher settlement success compared to the two light treatments, while under the light treatments corals showed higher survivorship, growth, and calcification rates. In addition, an indication of damage to the photosynthetic system was found in the light-polluted corals, which was reflected in their photosynthesis efficiency parameters: i.e., lower maximum light utilization coefficient (alpha), lower maximum potential photosynthetic rate (Pmax), and lower photosynthetic maximal quantum yield (Fv/Fm). Our findings provide evidence of the potential adverse effects of artificial lighting methods on the natural environment of coral reefs. We conclude that the use of the LED lighting method has high interference potential for the early life stages of corals.