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      Light pollution: A landscape-scale issue requiring cross-realm consideration

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            Terrestrial, marine, and freshwater realms are inherently linked through ecological, biogeochemical and/or physical processes. An understanding of these connections is critical to optimise management strategies and ensure the ongoing resilience of ecosystems. Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a global stressor that can profoundly affect a wide range of organisms and habitats and impact multiple realms. Despite this, current management practices for light pollution rarely consider connectivity between realms. Here we discuss the ways in which ALAN can have cross-realm impacts and provide case studies for each example discussed. We identified three main ways in which ALAN can affect two or more realms: 1) impacts on species that have life cycles and/or stages on two or more realms, such as diadromous fish that cross realms during ontogenetic migrations and many terrestrial insects that have juvenile phases of the lifecycle in aquatic realms; 2) impacts on species interactions that occur across realm boundaries, and 3) impacts on transition zones or ecosystems such as mangroves and estuaries. We then propose a framework for cross-realm management of light pollution and discuss current challenges and potential solutions to increase the uptake of a cross-realm approach for ALAN management. We argue that the strengthening and formalisation of professional networks that involve academics, lighting practitioners, environmental managers and regulators that work in multiple realms is essential to provide an integrated approach to light pollution. Networks that have a strong multi-realm and multi-disciplinary focus are important as they enable a holistic understanding of issues related to ALAN.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            25 October 2021
            [1 ] Centre for Marine Science and Innovation, Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
            [2 ] School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
            [3 ] National Centre for Coasts and Climate (NCCC), School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
            [4 ] Department of Ecology, Environment & Evolution, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia
            [5 ] School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia; Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen 82319, Germany
            [6 ] Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
            [7 ] Agriculture Victoria Research, Bundoora, VIC 3083, Australia
            [8 ] Pendoley Environmental Pty Ltd, 12A Pitt Way, Booragoon, WA 6154, Australia
            [9 ] Australian Institute of Marine Science, Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
            [10 ] Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia
            [11 ] School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia; College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia
            Author notes

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


            Date: 24 January 2022

            Handling Editor: Dr Craig Styan

            Editorial decision: Request revision. The Handling Editor requested revisions; the article has been returned to the authors to make this revision.

            2022-01-24 09:54 UTC

            Mayer-Pinto and colleagues submitted a review paper entitled « Light pollution: A landscape-scale issue requiring cross-realm consideration ». This work deals with a subject of great interest, the impacts of artificial light at night (ALAN) on organisms and ecosystems. This subject is the matter of intensive research and several original and review papers have been published the last years on this topic, as a result from an increasing awareness that ALAN induces dramatic negative effects on species, populations and ecosystems, and that politics of mitigation must be implemented in order to reduce the effects of ALAN. The originality of this submission lies in the fact that it considers mainly the effects resulting from the interactions in between aquatic and terrestrial realms, with the help of case studies.

            The paper is well written and of interest for a general audience. I believe however that some aspects could be treated more in depth, in the light of recent publications on the matter. My comments follow.

            -L60. Isn’t it, at the start, a key driver of biological (molecular and cellular) processes?

            -L86-88. Most of the studies today indicate that on the long term ALAN affects dramatically and durably population abundance and richness, and ultimately ecosystems. Thus the term “might” (L86) sounds weak to me. Same comment for the use of “may” L136.

            -L111. Since daily and seasonal are terms that refer to cyclic/periodic variations, please specify what “…or cyclic movement of…” refers to.

            -L176-180. Is this useful?

            -L194. I do not understand the meaning of “…associated with human populations…” here.

            -L294-296. This has already been said before.

            -The paper is based on the choice of 4 case studies. Since the salmon is one of these cases, perhaps the authors could refer to a previous recent review in which a whole section is dedicated to the impact of ALAN and other factors on the migrating Atlantic salmon. In this review paper examples of ALAN impacts on riparian systems are also provided and discussed in light of the litterature available (see: Falcón et al., Frontiers in Neuroscience 2020; 10.3389/fnins2020.602796).

            -In the review paper cited above, it is also emphasized that ALAN is not the only factor affecting populations and ecosystems and that the addition of anthropogenic threats, including ALAN, should also be considered when studying solutions to mitigate the effects of ALAN. Perhaps this could also be discussed in this MS, particularly at the end, in the part dealing with the challenges and practical solutions? On site studies prospective studies should consider the existence of 'multifactotial effects' whether positive (sometimes) or negative (most of the times).

            -L320. Vertical migration refers to the LD synchronized movement, up and down the water column. Thus here I would write "vertical movement" or more simply "migration to the surface".

            -L391-393. I do not see why they should be more sensitive; isn’t this the case for all the living? Or perhaps I am missing something here?

            -L435-440. Indeed. Starting from the observation that ALAN is not “a natural environment” it would seem reasonable to believe it is per se a polluting factor; not mentioning that the absence of effect on the short term does not mean there will be no effect on the long term (as previous studies have shown). And not mentioning that the presence or absence of other harmful factors (depending on the area investigated) might interact with ALAN to promote effects not observable with ALAN alone.

            L451-453. I disagree with this assumption; many studies now include this aspect; see the review paper referenced above (which discusses this extensively); and, the authors write later (L513-514) “…any light that is not natural in its origin is likely to interfere with ecological process”. I agree 100% with this.

            -L493-496. I do not understand this sentence here. Aren’t all species important for the maintenance of an ecosystem?

            -L500. What is an acceptable threshold?

            -L547. There is more information available than suggested from the sentence. See Falcón et al, 2020, in which this is discussed.

            -The reference list should be checked, as some references appear incomplete (e.g., lines 847, 883, 893, 967, 989, 1067, 1078,…).

            2021-12-01 18:31 UTC
            One person recommends this

            Date: 27 October 2021

            Handling Editor: Dr Craig Styan

            This article is a preprint article and has not been peer-reviewed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2021-10-27 12:37 UTC

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