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Publication - Dr Andy Wakefield

    The impacts of new street light technologies

    experimentally testing the effects on bats of changing from lowpressure sodium to white metal halide


    Stone, E, Wakefield, A, Harris, S & Jones, G, 2015, ‘The impacts of new street light technologies: experimentally testing the effects on bats of changing from lowpressure sodium to white metal halide’. Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences, vol 370.


    Artificial light at night is a major feature of anthropogenic global change and is increasingly recognized as affecting biodiversity, often negatively. On a global scale, newer technology white lights are replacing orange sodium lights to reduce energy waste. In 2009, Cornwall County Council (UK) commenced replacement of existing low-pressure sodium (LPS) high intensity discharge (HID) street lights with new Phillips CosmoPolis white ceramic metal halide street lights to reduce energy wastage. This changeover provided a unique collaborative opportunity to implement a before-after-control-impact field experiment to investigate the ecological effects of newly installed broad spectrum light technologies. Activity of the bat species Pipistrellus pipistrellus, P. pygmaeus and Nyctalus/Eptesicus spp. was significantly higher at metal halide than LPS lights, as found in other studies of bat activity at old technology (i.e. mercury vapour) white light types. No significant difference was found in feeding attempts per bat pass between light types, though more passes overall were recorded at metal halide lights. Species-specific attraction of bats to the metal halide lights could have cascading effects at lower trophic levels. We highlight the need for further research on possible ecosystem-level effects of light technologies before they are installed on a wide scale.

    Full details in the University publications repository