Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Like Moths To Flame...

Scientists are drawn to silly studies with potential catastrophic consequences: Light pollution transforming insect communities
Street lighting is transforming communities of insects and other invertebrates, according to research by the University of Exeter.

Published in the journal Biology Letters, the study shows for the first time that the balance of different species living together is being radically altered as a result of light pollution in our towns and cities.

Believed to be increasing by six per cent a year globally, artificial lighting is already known to affect individual organisms, but this is the first time that its impact on whole communities has been investigated.

This study shows that groups of invertebrates living near to artificial lights include more predators and scavengers. This could be impacting on the survival rates of different species, having a knock-on effect on birds and mammals that rely on these species for food. The effects could be affecting entire ecosystems and even humans.
...They collected 1,194 individuals covering 60 species. They discovered that total numbers were more abundant under street lights, where they also found more predatory and scavenging species, such as ground beetles and harvestmen. This was the case during the day, as well as at night, suggesting that the effect on communities is ongoing.
Well, yes, everything affects something.  Humans have been lighting the night since we learned how to keep that lightning strike fire alive hundreds of thousands of years ago.  Are we supposed to quit because that's helping a few insect predators catch more food?  A bug's gotta eat, after all.

Lead author Dr Tom Davies of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus said: “Our study shows that light pollution could be having a dramatic effect on wildlife in our towns and cities. We need to be aware of how the increase in artificial lighting is impacting on the delicate ecosystems on which we all rely. Our research shows, for the first time, the changes that light pollution is making to entire communities of invertebrates. We now need to examine what impact this is having on other communities and how this may be affecting important ecosystem services and whether we should change the way we light urban spaces.”
That will be another 500,000  please. It's not like the wildlife is anywhere near pristine in cities and towns anyway. At least it's only British money, but I'm pretty sure somebody from the States will jump on the bandwagon as soon as they see it's easy research to do (we don't call them "bug shufflers" for nothing).

I was looking for a song with lyrics "Like Moths to a Flame" that I dimly remembered, and I ran across this;  it's only had 2700 hits since 2007, so it hasn't gotten a lot of play.  A little (no, a lot) sappy, but a nice guitar solo. What the heck, hit it and give them a thrill.  It even satisfies my cutie quota, sorta.  And, hey, they're at least 31/32s more Indian Native American than Elizabeth Warren. 

Story found at Watts Up With That.

And, of course, special thanks to Wombat-Socho for including this in his weekly Rule 5 roundup, "Rule 5 Monday: Memorial Day".

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