Fitness consequences of chronic exposure to different light pollution wavelengths in nocturnal and diurnal rodents

Hagar Vardi-Naim*, Ava Benjamin, Tali Sagiv, Noga Kronfeld-Schor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Use of artificial at night (ALAN) exposes the world to continuously increasing levels and distribution of light pollution. Our understanding of the adverse effects of ALAN is based mostly on observational or laboratory studies, and its effects are probably underestimated. Demonstration of direct experimental fitness consequences of ALAN on mammals is missing. We studied the effects of chronic light pollution at different wavelengths on fitness and glucocorticoid hormone levels under semi-natural conditions in two closely related species: the nocturnal common spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus) and the diurnal golden spiny mouse (Acomys russatus). Our results clearly demonstrate the adverse effects of ALAN exposure on the fitness of both nocturnal and diurnal species, manifested by changes in cortisol levels and reproductive timing, reduced reproductive output and reduced survival, which differed between species and wavelengths. In A. russatus exposure to blue ALAN had the strongest effect on fitness, followed by white and yellow ALAN exposure. In A. cahirinus the results are more complex and suggest it suffered from the combined effects of ALAN and competition. Our research shows that light pollution presents a real threat to both nocturnal and diurnal species, affecting the species fitness directly and through interspecific interactions. Worryingly, these effects are probably not limited to spiny mice. The clear adverse effects we documented, as well as the differences between wave lengths, contribute to our ability to present science-based recommendations to decision makers regarding the use of artificial light at night. Such information and guidelines are highly important nowadays when lighting systems are being replaced to promote energy efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16486
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation2129/20


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