Impact of light pollution on wildlife

Mitigating the impacts of artificial light on wildlife

Indianapolis at night. Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius

Though important for public safety, artificial light is an environmental pollutant that has been shown to have harmful consequences on native wildlife populations. ERI Fellow Adam Fudickar and his team are working to identify ways that artificial light negatively impacts native wildlife in Indiana and solutions for mitigating its impact.

Understanding the behavioral and physiological responses of animals to environmental change is critical for predicting how wildlife will respond to future change. Artificial light at night poses a particularly interesting challenge to animals, including humans, that can result in alterations to daily and seasonal behavior and impact the health of individuals. The mechanisms that underlie these alterations are mostly unknown.

Fudickar’s team is studying animals across a gradient of night-time artificial lights to investigate the impact of artificial light on daily activity rhythms with a focus on the underlying physiological mechanisms and seasonal transitions. If night-time artificial light alters daily rhythms, the team predicts that traits based on circadian rhythm (24-hour cycles) will also be altered. This could have profound implications for long-term health. If night-time artificial light alters the timing of seasonal transitions, the team predicts that animals living in areas with artificial light will transition between seasons earlier, which could also have negative implications for wildlife resiliency.