Bats seek refuge in cluttered environment when exposed to white and red lights at night

Kévin Barré (Corresponding author), Christian Kerbiriou, Ros Kiri Ing, Yves Bas, Clémentine Azam, Isabelle Le Viol, Kamiel Spoelstra

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Abstract

Background: Artificial light at night is recognized as an increasing threat to biodiversity. However, information on the way highly mobile taxa such as bats spatially respond to light is limited. Following the hypothesis of a behavioural adaptation to the perceived risks of predation, we hypothesised that bats should avoid lit areas by shifting their flight route to less exposed conditions. Methods: Using 3D acoustic localization at four experimentally illuminated sites, we studied how the distance to streetlights emitting white and red light affected the Probability of bats Flying Inside the Forest (PFIF) versus along the forest edge. Results: We show that open-, edge-, and narrow-space foraging bats strongly change flight patterns by increasing PFIF when getting closer to white and red streetlights placed in the forest edge. These behavioural changes occurred mainly on the streetlight side where light was directed. Conclusions: The results show that bats cope with light exposure by actively seeking refuge in cluttered environment, potentially due to involved predation risks. This is a clear indication that bats make use of landscape structures when reacting to light, and shows the potential of vegetation and streetlight orientation in mitigating effects of light. The study nevertheless calls for preserving darkness as the most efficient way.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalMovement Ecology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Acoustic localization
  • Artificial light
  • Chiroptera
  • Flight behaviour
  • Microphone array
  • Streetlight
  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant_OA

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