Friday, July 29, 2016

Street lighting disrupts pollinating moths

Public Release: 1-Jun-2016
Street lighting disrupts pollinating moths
Newcastle University

Street lights change the natural behaviour of moths and disrupt nocturnal pollination, new research has shown.

The study, published today in the scientific journal Global Change Biology, reveals the shift in moth activity in street-lit areas from vegetation level to lamp-post height and the impact this is having on their ability to pollinate flowers.

The role played by moths in plant pollination has until now been largely overlooked as previous studies have focussed on daytime pollinators, such as bees.


"We all know moths are attracted to light - some people might grumble about finding them flitting around in the bathroom or banging against the window.

"Where there are street lights, our research indicates that the moths are being attracted upwards, away from the fields and hedgerows. This is likely to cause disruption of night-time pollination by moths, which could be serious for the flowers which rely upon moths for pollination, and of course there could be negative effects on the moths themselves as well."

Dr Darren Evans, Reader in Ecology and Conservation at Newcastle University and one of the authors on the paper, adds:

"Our research shows that light pollution significantly alters moth activity and this in turn is disrupting their role as pollinators.

"There is a great deal of concern at the moment about our falling pollinator populations and the knock-on effect on plant pollination. Our research suggests that it's a process that is being damaged on two fronts - night and day - and together the impact could be significant."


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