Response of bats to light with different spectra

Light-shy and agile bat presence is affected by white and green, but not red light

Kamiel Spoelstra*, Roy H.A. van Grunsven, Jip J.C. Ramakers, Kim B. Ferguson, Thomas Raap, Maurice Donners, Elmar M. Veenendaal, Marcel E. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Artificial light at night has shown a remarkable increase over the past decades. Effects are reported for many species groups, and include changes in presence, behaviour, physiology and life-history traits. Among these, bats are strongly affected, and how bat species react to light is likely to vary with light colour. Different spectra may therefore be applied to reduce negative impacts. We used a unique set-up of eight field sites to study the response of bats to three different experimental light spectra in an otherwise dark and undisturbed natural habitat. We measured activity of three bat species groups around transects with light posts emitting white, green and red light with an intensity commonly used to illuminate countryside roads. The results reveal a strong and spectrum-dependent response for the slowflying Myotis and Plecotus and more agile Pipistrellus species, but not for Nyctalus and Eptesicus species. Plecotus and Myotis species avoided white and green light, but were equally abundant in red light and darkness. The agile, opportunistically feeding Pipistrellus species were significantly more abundant around white and green light, most likely because of accumulation of insects, but equally abundant in red illuminated transects compared to dark control. Forest-dwelling Myotis and Plecotus species and more synanthropic Pipistrellus species are thus least disturbed by red light. Hence, in order to limit the negative impact of light at night on bats, white and green light should be avoided in or close to natural habitat, but red lights may be used if illumination is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170075
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Volume284
Issue number1855
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

red light
bat
Chiroptera
white light
Plecotus
Pipistrellus
Light
Methyl Green
Myotis
Eptesicus
Ecosystem
behavior change
habitats
lighting
roads
physiology
Darkness
life history
transect
Lighting

Keywords

  • Bats
  • Experimental light at night
  • Light colour
  • Light pollution

Cite this

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title = "Response of bats to light with different spectra: Light-shy and agile bat presence is affected by white and green, but not red light",
abstract = "Artificial light at night has shown a remarkable increase over the past decades. Effects are reported for many species groups, and include changes in presence, behaviour, physiology and life-history traits. Among these, bats are strongly affected, and how bat species react to light is likely to vary with light colour. Different spectra may therefore be applied to reduce negative impacts. We used a unique set-up of eight field sites to study the response of bats to three different experimental light spectra in an otherwise dark and undisturbed natural habitat. We measured activity of three bat species groups around transects with light posts emitting white, green and red light with an intensity commonly used to illuminate countryside roads. The results reveal a strong and spectrum-dependent response for the slowflying Myotis and Plecotus and more agile Pipistrellus species, but not for Nyctalus and Eptesicus species. Plecotus and Myotis species avoided white and green light, but were equally abundant in red light and darkness. The agile, opportunistically feeding Pipistrellus species were significantly more abundant around white and green light, most likely because of accumulation of insects, but equally abundant in red illuminated transects compared to dark control. Forest-dwelling Myotis and Plecotus species and more synanthropic Pipistrellus species are thus least disturbed by red light. Hence, in order to limit the negative impact of light at night on bats, white and green light should be avoided in or close to natural habitat, but red lights may be used if illumination is needed.",
keywords = "Bats, Experimental light at night, Light colour, Light pollution",
author = "Kamiel Spoelstra and {van Grunsven}, {Roy H.A.} and Ramakers, {Jip J.C.} and Ferguson, {Kim B.} and Thomas Raap and Maurice Donners and Veenendaal, {Elmar M.} and Visser, {Marcel E.}",
year = "2017",
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language = "English",
volume = "284",
journal = "Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences",
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Response of bats to light with different spectra : Light-shy and agile bat presence is affected by white and green, but not red light. / Spoelstra, Kamiel; van Grunsven, Roy H.A.; Ramakers, Jip J.C.; Ferguson, Kim B.; Raap, Thomas; Donners, Maurice; Veenendaal, Elmar M.; Visser, Marcel E.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 284, No. 1855, 20170075, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Response of bats to light with different spectra

T2 - Light-shy and agile bat presence is affected by white and green, but not red light

AU - Spoelstra, Kamiel

AU - van Grunsven, Roy H.A.

AU - Ramakers, Jip J.C.

AU - Ferguson, Kim B.

AU - Raap, Thomas

AU - Donners, Maurice

AU - Veenendaal, Elmar M.

AU - Visser, Marcel E.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Artificial light at night has shown a remarkable increase over the past decades. Effects are reported for many species groups, and include changes in presence, behaviour, physiology and life-history traits. Among these, bats are strongly affected, and how bat species react to light is likely to vary with light colour. Different spectra may therefore be applied to reduce negative impacts. We used a unique set-up of eight field sites to study the response of bats to three different experimental light spectra in an otherwise dark and undisturbed natural habitat. We measured activity of three bat species groups around transects with light posts emitting white, green and red light with an intensity commonly used to illuminate countryside roads. The results reveal a strong and spectrum-dependent response for the slowflying Myotis and Plecotus and more agile Pipistrellus species, but not for Nyctalus and Eptesicus species. Plecotus and Myotis species avoided white and green light, but were equally abundant in red light and darkness. The agile, opportunistically feeding Pipistrellus species were significantly more abundant around white and green light, most likely because of accumulation of insects, but equally abundant in red illuminated transects compared to dark control. Forest-dwelling Myotis and Plecotus species and more synanthropic Pipistrellus species are thus least disturbed by red light. Hence, in order to limit the negative impact of light at night on bats, white and green light should be avoided in or close to natural habitat, but red lights may be used if illumination is needed.

AB - Artificial light at night has shown a remarkable increase over the past decades. Effects are reported for many species groups, and include changes in presence, behaviour, physiology and life-history traits. Among these, bats are strongly affected, and how bat species react to light is likely to vary with light colour. Different spectra may therefore be applied to reduce negative impacts. We used a unique set-up of eight field sites to study the response of bats to three different experimental light spectra in an otherwise dark and undisturbed natural habitat. We measured activity of three bat species groups around transects with light posts emitting white, green and red light with an intensity commonly used to illuminate countryside roads. The results reveal a strong and spectrum-dependent response for the slowflying Myotis and Plecotus and more agile Pipistrellus species, but not for Nyctalus and Eptesicus species. Plecotus and Myotis species avoided white and green light, but were equally abundant in red light and darkness. The agile, opportunistically feeding Pipistrellus species were significantly more abundant around white and green light, most likely because of accumulation of insects, but equally abundant in red illuminated transects compared to dark control. Forest-dwelling Myotis and Plecotus species and more synanthropic Pipistrellus species are thus least disturbed by red light. Hence, in order to limit the negative impact of light at night on bats, white and green light should be avoided in or close to natural habitat, but red lights may be used if illumination is needed.

KW - Bats

KW - Experimental light at night

KW - Light colour

KW - Light pollution

UR - https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3780143

U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2017.0075

DO - 10.1098/rspb.2017.0075

M3 - Article

VL - 284

JO - Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences

JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences

SN - 0962-8452

IS - 1855

M1 - 20170075

ER -