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Grubisic, M. (2018). Waters under Artificial Lights: Does Light Pollution Matter for Aquatic Primary Producers? Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, 27(3), 76–81.
Abstract: Bright night lights have become a symbol of development and prosperity in the modern world. But have you ever wondered how artificial light at night (ALAN) may be affecting living beings in our cities, and how it may be affecting us? As artificial illumination is transforming nocturnal environments around the world, light pollution associated with its use is becoming a topic of increasing interest in the scientific and public communities. Light pollution disrupts natural light regimes in many regions of the world, raising concerns about ecological and health impacts of this novel anthropogenic pressure. Most obviously, ALAN can influence night‐active animals in urban and suburban areas, and most research in this growing field focuses on terrestrial organisms such as bats, birds, and insects. Effects on aquatic ecosystems are much less known. In particular, aquatic primary producers, such as microalgae, cyanobacteria, and plants, have rarely been studied despite their critical positioning in the base of aquatic food webs and the fundamental role that light plays in their ecology. For primary producers, light is a key source of both energy and environmental information; it influences their growth, production, and community structure. ALAN has therefore a large potential to influence their communities and induce bottom‐up changes to aquatic ecosystems and ecosystem functions.
Grubisic, M., Singer, G., Bruno, M. C., Van Grunsven, R. H. A., Manfrin, A., Monaghan, M. T., et al. (2017). Artificial light at night decreases biomass and alters community composition of benthic primary producers in a sub-alpine stream. Limnology and Oceanography, .
Abstract: Artificial light at night (ALAN) is recognized as a contributor to environmental change and a biodiversity threat on a global scale. Despite its widespread use and numerous potential ecological effects, few studies have investigated the impacts on aquatic ecosystems and primary producers. Light is a source of energy and information for benthic autotrophs that form the basis of food webs in clear, shallow waters. Artificial night-time illumination may thus affect biomass and community composition of primary producers. We experimentally mimicked the light conditions of a light-polluted area (approximately 20 lux, white LED) in streamside flumes on a sub-alpine stream. We compared the biomass and community composition of periphyton grown under ALAN with periphyton grown under a natural light regime in two seasons using communities in early (up to 3 weeks) and later (4â??6 weeks) developmental stages. In early periphyton, ALAN decreased the biomass of autotrophs in both spring (57% at 3 weeks) and autumn (43% at 2 weeks), decreased the proportion of cyanobacteria in spring (54%), and altered the proportion of diatoms in autumn (11% decrease at 2 weeks and 5% increase at 3 weeks). No effects of ALAN were observed for later periphyton. Further work is needed to test whether streams with frequent physical disturbances that reset the successional development of periphyton are more affected by ALAN than streams with more stable conditions. As periphyton is a fundamental component of stream ecosystems, the impact of ALAN might propagate to higher trophic levels and/or affect critical ecosystem functions.