As a society we must be conscious and extremely considerate of the pivotal relationship we play between all living things and their environment and the positive or negative impact, effect and influence we can have on the animal and plant life of a particular region or habitat.
Light pollution can effect individual species of biota which in-turn may affect the ecology within the region.
Where two species occupy an identical niche, the population frequency of each species may be changed by the introduction of artificial light, if they are not equally affected by light at night. For example; some species of spiders avoid lit areas, while other species are happy to build their spider web directly on a lamp post. Since lamp posts attract many flying insects, the spiders that don’t mind light gain an advantage over the spiders that avoid it, and consequently become more dominant and then have the potential to upset the natural balance.
The rate of change between the species may then have knock-on effects, as the interactions between these species and others in the ecosystem are affected and food web feeding relationships are altered. These ripple effects can eventually affect even diurnal plants and animals. As an example; changes in the activity of night active insects can change the survival rates of night blooming plants, which may provide food or shelter for diurnal animals.
The LDP specialists are highly recognised and recommended in environmental circles and are often involved as experts in environmental hearings, where development projects boarder on sensitive ecological areas.
LDP’s experts work closely with ecologists to research practical methods to avoid, mitigate or minimise effects such as those illustrated in these examples;
NZ long-tailed Bat protection areas: LDP have worked with planners and ecologists to explore illumination levels that would be appropriate as to not affect the Bat population or mitigate the effects of streetlights and vehicle headlight sweep beaming into a protected area
Coastal nesting bird populations: Bird populations situated close to proposed expressways or highways. Care should be taken not to introduce light close to these nesting populations’ areas, as the light from road lights could attract unwanted pests or predators from nearby city or urban areas into the sensitive nesting area
Migratory birds can also be affected by high rise lighting or developments close to the shoreline. The birds can become disorientated, especially the juvenile, as migratory birds often travel in the hours of darkness to reduce dehydration
Indoor and Artificial habitat enclosures: From penguins and kiwis and even to lizards and the plants that make up an artificial habitat, the LDP team have vast and varied experience and specialist knowledge in helping create an as “close to nature” experience for the subject flora and fauna. The purpose and importance of a well-considered design is to optimise the habitat’s occupants’ health and wellbeing and to accurately simulate required night and day and the seasonal cycles and stimulus requirements and to also be able to respectfully align with potential visitor or observer interaction.
The effect that artificial light has upon organisms is highly variable. Light at night can be both beneficial and damaging for certain species and this may also differ during various seasons or cycles of the moon. As an example, humans benefit from using indoor artificial light to extend the time available for work and play, but the light disrupts the human circadian rhythm, and the resulting ongoing and cumulative impact can be quite damaging to one’s health and wellbeing.
The day-night cycle is the most powerful environmental behavioural signal. Almost all animals and living things can be categorised as nocturnal or diurnal. If a nocturnal species is only active in extreme dark, it will be unable to live in areas being influenced by artificially introduced light. The most acute affects are directly next to streetlights and lit buildings, but even the diffused light of skyglow can extend out to hundreds of kilometres away from city centres.
To ensure that our modern society doesn’t upset the ecosystem’s balance beyond its capability, the inclusion of LDP professionals and experts, within the greater planning and design team, can ensure a fully considered and necessary approach.