There have been discussions of light pollution for years as something that reduces the view of the night sky or as an interference in proper sleep patterns. However, evidence of it as an actual detriment to the environment like so many other types of pollution had not been discovered before. Or at least until now. A new study has linked artificial lights to a disturbance in the night time pollination, and it may be the latest threat to pollinators in general.
Light Pollution, A Late Night Threat
With the reduction in bee populations around the globe and the rising awareness of their role in food production, the plight of pollinators, in general, has come to the forefront of environmental concerns. While many different causes for bee die off have been examined, and some addressed, the issue of night time pollination has not really been analyzed until now. A new study released in the journal Nature has taken a look at the potential problems, and what they have found is unnervingly clear.
Researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland conducted tests on Alpine plots, some with artificial street lamps hung over them that were on all night, and others acting as a control group that experienced the full dark of night. The plots that were illuminated were visited by 62% fewer insects than the plots that remained dark. Also, the diversity of the pollinators was reduced by 29%.
Even more disconcerting about this latest threat was that this lack of nighttime pollination increased the workload and stress on daytime insects. They also resulted in a reduction in available food sources since the insects often eat the results of their previous night’s work.
“Urgent measures must be taken, to reduce the negative consequences of the annually increasing light emissions on the environment,” said Eva Knop, one of the authors of the study on light pollution.
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