Ecological effects of light pollution: how can we improve our understanding using light loggers on individual animals?

DM Dominoni

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Light pollution has become an important theme of both scientificresearch and policy-making. Although in recent years we have seen a boost ofresearch on this topic, there is still surprisingly little knowledge on the levels ofartificial light at night that wild animals really experience. I made use of miniaturelight loggers attached to individual free-living European blackbirds (Turdusmerula) to measure the light intensity to which these birds are exposed to in forestand urban areas. I have first shown that male blackbirds living in a city are indeedexposed to higher levels of light at night compared to forest conspecifics, but theselevels are substantially lower to what can be measured underneath typical streetlamps. Recently I have offered new perspectives by estimating the subjective daylength to which urban and rural blackbirds are exposed to and by analysing theoverall light intensity to which blackbirds are exposed daily. In a series of studies, Ihave interpreted these data in the context of daily patterns of activity as well asseasonal biology. European blackbirds which were exposed to a longer photoperiodthan their rural counterparts extended their activity into the night and showedreduced levels of melatonin production in the early morning, suggesting that thiscould be the biophysical process underlying the early onset of daily activity, butalso the advanced breeding season observed in many avian species that successfullycolonize urban areas. Indeed, I found a remarkable similarity between the differ-ence in the photoperiod experienced by rural and urban blackbirds and the differ-ence in timing of reproduction and onset of daily activity between my two studypopulations. I will discuss these findings and underlie several outstanding questionsthat still remain unresolved
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcology and conservation of birds in urban environments
PublisherSpringer Verlag GmbH
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-43314-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-43312-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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