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Light pollution: a landscape-scale issue requiring cross-realm consideration

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posted on 2022-09-21, 06:17 authored by Mariana Mayer-Pinto, Theresa M Jones, Stephen E Swearer, Kylie RobertKylie Robert, Damon Bolton, Anne E Aulsebrook, Katherine A Dafforn, Ashton L Dickerson, Alicia M Dimovski, Niki Hubbard, Lucy K McLay, Kellie Pendoley, Alistair GB Poore, Michele Thums, Nikolas J Willmott, Kaori Yokochi, Emily K Fobert
Terrestrial, marine and freshwater realms are inherently linked through ecological, biogeochemical and/or physical processes. An understanding of these connections is critical to optimise management strategies and ensure the ongoing resilience of ecosystems. Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a global stressor that can profoundly affect a wide range of organisms and habitats and impact multiple realms. Despite this, current management practices for light pollution rarely consider connectivity between realms. Here we discuss the ways in which ALAN can have cross-realm impacts and provide case studies for each example discussed. We identified three main ways in which ALAN can affect two or more realms: 1) impacts on species that have life cycles and/or stages in two or more realms, such as diadromous fish that cross realms during ontogenetic migrations and many terrestrial insects that have juvenile phases of the life cycle in aquatic realms; 2) impacts on species interactions that occur across realm boundaries, and 3) impacts on transition zones or ecosystems such as mangroves and estuaries. We then propose a framework for cross-realm management of light pollution and discuss current challenges and potential solutions to increase the uptake of a cross-realm approach for ALAN management. We argue that the strengthening and formalisation of professional networks that involve academics, lighting practitioners, environmental managers and regulators that work in multiple realms is essential to provide an integrated approach to light pollution. Networks that have a strong multi-realm and multi-disciplinary focus are important as they enable a holistic understanding of issues related to ALAN.


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UCL Open Environment






UCL Press

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©2022 The Authors. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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