Impacts of light pollution on bat spatiotemporal dynamics in France : implications for outdoor lighting planning

Abstract : Light pollution induced by the widespread use of nighttime artificial lighting is a global change affecting substantial part of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. As a result, major concerns have been raised about its hidden impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Light pollution has major impacts on the circadian and seasonal cycles of organisms, and on their movements and spatial distributions. As a whole, light pollution likely disrupts the spatiotemporal dynamics of biological communities and ecosystems. In this context, the aim of this PhD was to characterize the impacts of nighttime artificial lighting on bat activity (order: chiroptera) at multiple spatial scales in order to propose reduction measures that can effectively limit the adverse impacts of light pollution on biodiversity. We used bats as model species as they are nocturnal and directly exposed to light pollution and they are considered to be good indicators of the response of biodiversity to anthropogenic pressure.We first intended to characterize the extent of effect of light pollution at a landscape scale relative to major land-use pressures that are threatening biodiversity worldwide. Using a French national-scale citizen science database, we found that landscape-scale level of light pollution negatively affected common bat species, and that this effect was significantly stronger than the effect of impervious surfaces but weaker than the effect of intensive agriculture. This highlighted the crucial need to account for outdoor lighting in land-use planning in order to restore darkness in human-inhabited landscapes.Thus, through an in situ experiment, we investigated whether i) restoring darkness in a landscape for a part of the night through part-night lighting schemes, or ii) restraining the spatial extent of lighting at the vicinity of natural elements were effective options to enhance dark ecological corridors in human-inhabited landscapes. We found that part-night lighting schemes were unlikely to effectively mitigate the impacts of artificial lighting on light-sensitive species. However, we revealed that streetlights should be separated from ecological corridors by at least 50 m, and that the light trespass should be lower than 0.1 lux to allow their effective use by light-sensitive species.Overall, this PhD thesis revealed the major importance of addressing light pollution issues at multiple spatial scales to characterize its impacts on biodiversity. It also exposed the crucial importance of integrating outdoor lighting in land-use planning strategies and proposed to implement ecological criteria in future European standards for outdoor lighting.
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Clémentine Azam. Impacts of light pollution on bat spatiotemporal dynamics in France : implications for outdoor lighting planning. Ecology, environment. Museum national d'histoire naturelle - MNHN PARIS, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016MNHN0021⟩. ⟨tel-01570140⟩

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