If you are a person that worries about animals coexisting with people, the circle of life, animals and plants’ rights, and how human life is affecting nature, this might interest you. And if you are not, you should at least read on because it is a real issue for Earth’s maintenance.
Not every pollinator works in daylight. There is a group that only does so by night, and the process of these nocturnal insects like beetles and flies is being affected by artificial lights. It appears to be a huge problem for pollination and fruit production, the journal Nature reported.
The number of bees and other diurnal insects is experiencing a decline all around the world due to pesticides, diseases, introduced parasites, climate changing and, of course, the continuing loss of habitats. Now, it appears that light pollution is a contributing factor to the decline of activity in nocturnal insects.
What the researchers said
On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced data suggesting that honey bees might probably finally fix their colony collapse disorder. Today, that news seems a little bit affected by a team of scientists assuring a serious problem for pollinators. This study published in Nature indicates that light pollution might be a worse issue than we think.
In Switzerland, scientists made an experiment placing mobile street lamps over plots of cabbage thistle. They compared two groups of pollinators: one of them worked in a lighted space, and the other one worked in much darker place. They found that these nocturnal pollinators’ visits were much fewer in the first group that the second one – 62% less. At least 300 nocturnal pollinators visited the flowers of around 60 plant species.
“So far, nocturnal pollinators have been largely neglected in the discussion of the worldwide known pollinator crisis”, said Eva Knop’s team from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern.
The pale head of the Cirsium oleraceum – a flower known as cabbage thistle – is very accessible and a rich source of pollen and nectar. Most insects visit this flower during both day and night. The team experimented with 100 of these cabbage thistles and placed an amount of them over LED streets light when growing, and another group without any artificial light.
Knop assured nocturnal pollinators play a critical role in plants. And in places like the major cities with a lot of light around the streets, the process of pollination is disrupted. She sentenced that areas with street lights are visited around two-thirds less frequently than those without any light source. This affects the fruit bearing and the reproduction of plants.
“As it is possible that light sensitive insects have already disappeared in regions with high levels of light pollution, we conducted our study in the still relatively dark Prealps”, said Knop.
Light emission in the streets, especially in residential areas, has increased by 70% in the last 20 years. And unfortunately, polluters are not the only ones affected by it.
In the Nature article, U.K. ecologist and biogeographer Jon Sadler said that the intensity, direction, and duration of artificial light could also affect plants and animals in different forms. Referring to pollinators, he showed out the possibility of theses nocturnal insects concentrating and going to other places less illuminated, increasing pollination there.
Souce: Tech Times