Night lighting proved deadly for desert animals

(ORDO NEWS) — Although many people underestimate the impact of light pollution on animal life, results from Israeli scientists have shown that blue, yellow, or white light all increase mortality and disrupt reproductive behavior in desert rodents.

In most species studied to date, including humans, biological clocks are synchronized by light. Different species have developed different adaptations suitable for a particular time of day or season.

However, over the past decades, people have changed the original rules. They began to use artificial lighting everywhere, which disrupted the natural cycles of light and dark. According to recent studies, every year the area of ​​this pollution increases by two to six percent.

To refine how nighttime lighting affects the life cycles of desert animals, the researchers exposed two rodent species to low-intensity light pollution: the diurnal golden spiny mouse ( Acomys russatus ) and the nocturnal Cairo spiny mouse ( Acomys cahirinus ).

These closely related species live side by side but are active at different times of the day.

For the purposes of the experiment, the authors of the work placed 96 spiny mice of both species in eight spacious open enclosures, after which they were exposed to low-intensity night lighting (similar to the brightness of a road lamp) of different colors for ten months.

In two enclosures, the mice were under white light at night, in two more under yellow, in two more under blue. Only the last two enclosures remained unlit and served for control purposes.

Despite the abundance of shelters and food, in two “white” enclosures, all animals died a few days after the start of the experiment. Mice also produced fewer offspring in artificially lit enclosures, and researchers found elevated levels of stress hormones in blood samples taken.

Night lighting proved deadly for desert animals 2
Experimental enclosures containing rodent colonies

Scientists suggest that the death of mice in enclosures illuminated with white light is caused by a violation of the immune response in animals that have been under stress for a long time.

If street lighting elicits a similar reaction, the researchers recommend introducing “dark hours” on roads and city parks to preserve the natural cycle of day and night and allow wildlife to live in a normal rhythm in order to preserve biodiversity.


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