Elgert, C., Hopkins, J., Kaitala, A., & Candolin, U. (2020). Reproduction under light pollution: maladaptive response to spatial variation in artificial light in a glow-worm. Proc. R. Soc. B., 287(1931), 20200806.
Abstract: The amount of artificial light at night is growing worldwide, impacting the behaviour of nocturnal organisms. Yet, we know little about the consequences of these behavioural responses for individual fitness and population viability. We investigated if females of the common glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca—which glow in the night to attract males—mitigate negative effects of artificial light on mate attraction by adjusting the timing and location of glowing to spatial variation in light conditions. We found females do not move away from light when exposed to a gradient of artificial light, but delay or even refrain from glowing. Further, we demonstrate that this response is maladaptive, as our field study showed that staying still when exposed to artificial light from a simulated streetlight decreases mate attraction success, while moving only a short distance from the light source can markedly improve mate attraction. These results indicate that glow-worms are unable to respond to spatial variation in artificial light, which may be a factor in their global decline. Consequently, our results support the hypothesis that animals often lack adaptive behavioural responses to anthropogenic environmental changes and underlines the importance of considering behavioural responses when investigating the effects of human activities on wildlife.