Coping with light pollution in urban environments: Patterns and challenges

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 27, 15 March 2024
Candolin U.

Artificial light at night is a growing environmental problem that is especially pronounced in urban environments. Yet, impacts on urban wildlife have received scant attention and patterns and consequences are largely unknown. Here, I present a conceptual framework outlining the challenges species encounter when exposed to urban light pollution and how they may respond through plastic adjustments and genetic adaptation. Light pollution interferes with biological rhythms, influences behaviors, fragments habitats, and alters predation risk and resource abundance, which changes the diversity and spatiotemporal distribution of species and, hence, the structure and function of urban ecosystems. Furthermore, light pollution interacts with other urban disturbances, which can exacerbate negative effects on species. Given the rapid growth of urban areas and light pollution and the importance of healthy urban ecosystems for human wellbeing, more research is needed on the impacts of light pollution on species and the consequences for urban ecosystems.