29 June 2009
New research published in Current Biology gives the first evidence of a negative effect of light pollution on the commuting behaviour of a threatened bat species. Artificial street lights were placed along hedgerows used as flight routes by lesser horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus hipposideros) when they leave their colonies at night. These experimental lights mimicked the spectral content and intensity of light from orange (high pressure sodium) streetlights that are prevalent around the world. The Bristol study found that lesser horseshoe bats did avoid flying along the lit hedgerows and were probably forced instead to use less ideal commuting routes (ones that led less directly to feeding areas).
Emma Stone, a PhD student in the School of Biological Sciences, is the lead author on the paper.