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Mitigating the impacts of street lighting on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Darren Evans



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Street lights are not only a major source of direct light pollution emissions, but stock has been transitioning to light-emitting diode (LED) technology in many parts of the world, resulting in increases in the blue part of the visible spectrum that is more harmful to biodiversity and human health. But LEDs can be modified more easily than conventional sodium lamps by adjusting their intensity, spectral output, and other features of street light systems. In this Opinion piece, I provide an updated overview of street light mitigation strategies and contend that research in this area has been slow. I show how experimental lighting rigs that mimic real street lights can be used for mitigation testing, since invertebrate behaviour, abundances and interactions can respond quickly and measurably. I demonstrate how advances in network ecology that use species-interaction data can provide much-needed assessments of the impacts of street lights on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and ultimately provide new tools and metrics for biomonitoring. I acknowledge the limitations of measuring local, short-term responses of biodiversity, and identify promising avenues for collaborating with industry and Government agencies in new or existing road lighting schemes, to minimise the negative long-term impacts at marginal cost.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Evans DM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2023

Volume: 378

Issue: 1892

Print publication date: 18/12/2023

Online publication date: 30/10/2023

Acceptance date: 07/07/2023

Date deposited: 07/07/2023

ISSN (print): 0962-8436

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2970

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0355


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