Light pollution & biodiversity : What are the levers of action to limit the impact of artificial lighting on nocturnal fauna ?

Abstract : The spatial extent of artificial light is increasing rapidly and significantly on Earth surface hence changing the nocturnal lightscape and threatening an important part of ecosystems. The rise in nighttime light levels induces a perturbation of the circadian rhythm and thus a modification of nocturnal, but also some diurnal, species behavior and interactions between species. Despite the spread of light pollution being of major concern, the knowledge gaps in this field limit the creation of regulations to reduce the impact of nighttime lighting on biodiversity. Therefore it is urgent to produce clear and practical information to build tools and define recommendations for land managers. In this context, the aim of the PhD thesis is to study the impact of light pollution on nocturnal fauna through two spatial scales in order to propose methods to evaluate and manage artificial light. We used bats as a model species as they are long-lived and nocturnal and thus highly impacted by light pollution. In addition, it has been shown that their population trends tend to reflect those of species lower in the trophic chain which makes them even more sensitive to anthropic pressures. First, we studied the effect of light pollution within cities. This spatial scale is both coherent with bats distance of movement and with the reality of public lighting management. Although some urban-adapted species living within large cities are considered to benefit from artificial light, this work showed that, at a scale including all aspects of bats daily travels, light has a negative effect on bats activity level. Also, even if a large part of light pollution is due to public lighting, the results show that private lighting should not be neglected. Beyond the impact on bat activity, artificial light can have a barrier effect when individuals are transiting and thus reduce the landscape connectivity. Whereas environmental policies are promoting the development of ecological corridors, not considering light pollution could significantly reduce their efficiency for nocturnal species. Modelling the link between biological data and landscape variables including light level allowed us to build adapted corridors for nocturnal species. This lead to the development of a tool to evaluate lighting scenarios that could be used prior to the implementation of a lighting plan in order to predict the impact it would have and hence adapt it to the local biodiversity issues. At a finer scale, it is necessary to understand which light characteristics are the most relevant levers of actions to formulate recommendations to limit light pollution impact on biodiversity. We carried a field work experiment in a protected area where conservation issues on bat species are even higher as the species most sensitive to light are protected there, together with their habitat, at the EU level. We worked at the interface between urban and semi-natural areas and showed that the illuminance was the most important light characteristic. Hence it is on this parameters that regulations should be applied in priority to limit the impact of light on areas that could potentially be used as corridors or dark refuges for sensitive species.
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Julie Pauwels. Light pollution & biodiversity : What are the levers of action to limit the impact of artificial lighting on nocturnal fauna ?. Biodiversity and Ecology. Museum national d'histoire naturelle - MNHN PARIS, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018MNHN0023⟩. ⟨tel-02314264⟩

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