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Willmott, N. J., Henneken, J., Selleck, C. J., & Jones, T. M. (2018). Artificial light at night alters life history in a nocturnal orb-web spider. PeerJ, 6, e5599.
Abstract: The prevalence of artificial light at night (ALAN) is increasing rapidly around the world. The potential physiological costs of this night lighting are often evident in life history shifts. We investigated the effects of chronic night-time exposure to ecologically relevant levels of LED lighting on the life history traits of the nocturnal Australian garden orb-web spider (Eriophora biapicata). We reared spiders under a 12-h day and either a 12-h natural darkness (∼0 lux) or a 12-h dim light (∼20 lux) night and assessed juvenile development, growth and mortality, and adult reproductive success and survival. We found that exposure to ALAN accelerated juvenile development, resulting in spiders progressing through fewer moults, and maturing earlier and at a smaller size. There was a significant increase in daily juvenile mortality for spiders reared under 20 lux, but the earlier maturation resulted in a comparable number of 0 lux and 20 lux spiders reaching maturity. Exposure to ALAN also considerably reduced the number of eggs produced by females, and this was largely associated with ALAN-induced reductions in body size. Despite previous observations of increased fitness for some orb-web spiders in urban areas and near night lighting, it appears that exposure to artificial night lighting may lead to considerable developmental costs. Future research will need to consider the detrimental effects of ALAN combined with foraging benefits when studying nocturnal insectivores that forage around artificial lights.