Investigating the impact of street lighting changes on garden moth communities

Plummer, Kate E.; Hale, James David; O'Callaghan, Matthew J.; Sadler, Jon P.; Siriwardena, Gavin M. (2016). Investigating the impact of street lighting changes on garden moth communities. Journal of urban ecology, 2(1), juw004. Oxford University Press 10.1093/jue/juw004

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Night time illumination of cities is undergoing radical change through the adoption of new street lighting technologies, but the impacts of these large-scale changes on biodiversity have not been explored. Moths are of particular concern because of their nocturnal ‘flight-to-light’ responses. Here we examine in situ effects of (1) street lamp replacement and (2) the spatial distribution of local street lighting on garden moth communities in Birmingham, UK, to determine whether current shifts in street lighting infrastructure are leading to an increased attraction of moths into suburban areas. Using a unique beforeafter- control-impact survey, we show that switching from narrow (low-pressure sodium) to broad spectrum (high-pressure sodium) lamps significantly increases the diversity of macro-moths in suburban gardens. Furthermore, we demonstrate the complex ways in which the moth community differentially responds to variation in street lighting characteristics. In particular we found that macro-moth attraction was greatest at high lamp densities, whilst micro-moth families responded more strongly to street lamp proximity and the density of UV-emitting lamps specifically. Our findings indicate that moths are attracted to suburban gardens with closer, more dense and more spectrally diverse local street lighting, and suggest that suburban areas could represent ecological traps for moth communities if they have insufficient resources to support moth survival and reproduction. Further research is now needed to determine whether street lighting is progressively damaging moth communities, and to understand whether these impacts could be mitigated through changes to street lighting regimes or through the provision of ecologically important habitats in urban landscapes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Hale, James David

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

2058-5543

Publisher:

Oxford University Press

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

10 Feb 2017 11:10

Last Modified:

12 Feb 2017 02:13

Publisher DOI:

10.1093/jue/juw004

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.93842

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/93842

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