Examining effects of artificial light at night on insects and bats

To understand how flying insects, ground-dwelling arthropods, and bats are affected by artificial light at night (ALAN), we are deploying 12 multisensor sites across the UBC Farm to operate for at least a year. At each site, simulated streetlights will cycle through white, amber, and control (off) periods. We will monitor flying insect activity at each site with Sticky Pi devices, which photograph sticky traps every 20 minutes and automatically identify insects captured, providing insight into which insects arrived when. We will also monitor ground-dwelling arthropod activity with pitfall traps, and bat activity with ultrasonic microphones.

We are interested in potential impacts of ALAN on circadian rhythms of the organisms studied, especially crepuscular organisms. We hope to learn how ALAN affects the timing and intensity of insect and bat activity, how these effects differ across taxa, and how they are influenced by the spectral characteristics of light. We will also investigate interactions between trophic levels. 

We hope our results will help inform efforts to alleviate negative impacts of ALAN on biodiversity. Some potential applications include scheduling part-night lighting, optimising the colour of new or replacement lights, and identifying and conserving dark infrastructure (areas and corridors where artificial light would be especially detrimental to flora and fauna).

This project is a collaboration with Dr. Matthew Mitchell and the CSFS. It is funded by a Campus as a Living Lab (CLL) grant. Check back for future updates regarding the results of this project.

PIEE Lab members associated with this project: Daphne Chevalier, Nisa Chavez, Quentin Geissmann, Juli Carrillo

Keywords: insects, bats, ALAN, artificial light, chronobiology