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A hatchling loggerhead sea turtle crawls toward a high-pressure sodium luminaire on the Florida coast (Photo Credits: Blair Witherington)

A hatchling loggerhead sea turtle crawls toward a high-pressure sodium luminaire on the Florida coast (Photo Credits: Blair Witherington)

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The introduction and widespread uptake of LEDs as outdoor lighting has caused no small amount of concern amongst conservation biologists. The prevailing impression that LEDs are always blue-white is well founded as adoption of LEDs for streetlights were invariably high color temperatures and with the deterioration of phosphors the blue wavelengths...

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... In addition, an assessment of a potential alleviating effect of blue light would have to include effects on other organisms such as insects and bat species which often-not alwaysshow strongest responses to short-waved light emissions (Spoelstra et al. 2017;Dominoni and Nelson 2018;Donners et al. 2018;Longcore et al. 2018;Voigt et al. 2018). Overall, there is no indication that particular spectra of artificial light were less critical for birds (Longcore 2018; see also Longcore et al. 2018;Mattfeld et al. 2012) and changes in light spectra may be less effective than expected also for other organisms (van Geffen et al. 2015a,b;van Langevelde et al. 2017) or may reveal heterogeneous effects (Dominoni and Nelson 2018;Longcore 2018). ...
... In addition, an assessment of a potential alleviating effect of blue light would have to include effects on other organisms such as insects and bat species which often-not alwaysshow strongest responses to short-waved light emissions (Spoelstra et al. 2017;Dominoni and Nelson 2018;Donners et al. 2018;Longcore et al. 2018;Voigt et al. 2018). Overall, there is no indication that particular spectra of artificial light were less critical for birds (Longcore 2018; see also Longcore et al. 2018;Mattfeld et al. 2012) and changes in light spectra may be less effective than expected also for other organisms (van Geffen et al. 2015a,b;van Langevelde et al. 2017) or may reveal heterogeneous effects (Dominoni and Nelson 2018;Longcore 2018). ...
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During six consecutive autumn seasons we registered birds that were attracted to an illuminated 41-storey building in Bonn, Germany, the so-called ‘Post Tower’. Casualties on the ground were disoriented by the light and in most cases collided with the building. All-night observations with numbers of casualties, effective light sources, moon, and weather parameters registered hourly allowed for analyses of the role of these factors for the attraction and disorientation of numerous migratory birds. As expected, the conspicuous façade illumination was responsible for many casualties (fatal or non-fatal). Additionally, the illuminated roof logos and even faint light sources like the emergency lights were attractive and led to casualties. Moon and rain were negatively correlated with casualties, but there was no clear correlation with other weather parameters. Turning off lights was key, but effects of other ex post mitigation measures were limited: shutters were not originally intended for the attenuation of light emissions, control technology was insufficient, and there was a lack of willingness of the building owner to reduce light emissions consistently, even during core bird migration periods. Conservation recommendations are derived from this case study.
... In particular, lamp color and directionality are two key streetlight features that can affect fallout [7,16]. Spurred by efforts to improve energetic efficiency, many cities are replacing yellow high-pressure sodium (HPS) lightbulbs commonly used in streetlights with white light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs [17][18][19]. Although LED bulbs decrease electricity consumption and maintenance costs, these benefits could be costly to wildlife, as shearwaters may be more sensitive to LED lights [7]. ...
... This approach, when applied to HPS lights, reduced Newell's Shearwater (Puffinus newelli) fallout on Kauai (Hawai'i) [16]. Although mitigation is being addressed through shielding, the common use of optimized LEDs with broad spectra and Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) greater than the maximum recommended value for wildlife (2200 K) may be a cause for concern [17]. While modern LED lights possess the flexibility to give off a range of low to high CTT, short-wavelength light with high CCT is a common choice because of its efficiency [19]. ...
... A recent survey of lighting experts suggests that while LEDs can be adjusted to reduce light pollution and minimize wildlife impacts, yet municipalities rarely capitalize on those benefits [19]. For instance, although new-technology LED streetlights can filter out lower wavelengths [17], full spectrum white LED lights maximize brightness, and are commonly chosen to replace HPS streetlights. Furthermore, LEDs come in a variety of CCTs with options as low as 2200 K, the maximum temperature experts recommend for wildlife [17]. ...
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Attraction to artificial light at night (ALAN) poses a threat to many fledgling seabirds leaving their nests for the first time. In Hawai'i, fledgling wedge-tailed shearwaters disoriented by lights may become grounded due to exhaustion or collision, exposing them to additional threats from road traffic and predation. While the timing and magnitude of shearwater fallout varies from year to year, little is known about how changing lighting and environmental conditions influence the risk of grounding for this species. We analyzed 8 years (2012-2019) of observations of road-killed shearwaters along the Kalaniana'ole Highway on O'ahu to quantify the timing and magnitude of fallout during the fledging season (November-December). Our goal was to compare fallout before (2012-15) and after (2016-19) a transition in highway lighting from unshielded high-pressure sodium (HPS) to full-cutoff light-emitting diode (LED) streetlights. To detect the shearwater response to the lighting regime, we also accounted for three potential environmental drivers of interannual variability in fallout: moon illumination, wind speed, and wind direction. The effects of these environmental drivers varied across years, with moon illumination, wind speed and wind direction significantly affecting fallout in at least one year. Altogether, the interaction between moon illumination and wind speed was the most important predictor, suggesting that fallout increases during nights with low moon and strong winds. The lack of an increase in fallout after the change from HPS to shielded 3000K-4000K LED streetlights suggests the new streetlights did not worsen the light pollution impacts on wedge-tailed shearwaters on Southeast O'ahu. However , due to potential species-specific disparities in the behavior and light attraction of petrels, similar studies are needed before energy saving LED lights are implemented throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.
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Artificial light at night (ALAN) is closely associated with modern societies and is rapidly increasing worldwide. A dynamically growing body of literature shows that ALAN poses a serious threat to all levels of biodiversity - from genes to ecosystems. Many “unknowns” remain to be addressed however, before we fully understand the impact of ALAN on biodiversity and can design effective mitigation measures. Here, we distilled the findings of a workshop on the effects of ALAN on biodiversity at the first World Biodiversity Forum in Davos attended by several major research groups in the field from across the globe. We argue that 11 pressing research questions have to be answered to find ways to reduce the impact of ALAN on biodiversity. The questions address fundamental knowledge gaps, ranging from basic challenges on how to standardize light measurements, through the multi-level impacts on biodiversity, to opportunities and challenges for more sustainable use.