The Urban Wildlands Group
The Urban Wildlands Group is dedicated to the protection of species, habitats, and ecological processes in urban and urbanizing areas.
Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting: Conference
In 2002, Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore of The Urban Wildlands Group co-chaired the first North American conference on the ecological consequences of artificial night lighting. The conference was co-hosted by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and attracted a diverse group of presenters and attendees. Rich and Longcore are currently editing a book on the topic to be published by Island Press. Media reports from the conference are linked below, as are other resources on this emerging environmental issue.
Order Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting (Island Press), edited by Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore.
"Ecological Light Pollution" in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (posted with permission of Ecological Society of America)
Longcore, Travis and Catherine Rich. A review of the ecological effects of road reconfiguration and expansion on coastal wetland ecosystems. Los Angeles, The Urban Wildlands Group. 12 pp. (November 14, 2001). (pdf: 50kb)
Magazines and Journals
Holden, Constance (ed.). 2002. [Random Samples] Lighting’s dark side. Science 295:1227.
Harder, Ben. 2002. Deprived of darkness: the unnatural ecology of artificial light at night. Science News 161(16):248–249. [Cover Story].
Wong, Kathleen M. 2002. Turn off the lights! California Wild 55(4):4–5.
Mittelstaedt, Martin. 2003. Blinded by the light. Reader’s Digest [Canada] 162(970):116–124.
Eaton, Joe. 2003. Tower kill. Earth Island Journal 17(4):32–35 [Cites conference].
Mittelstaedt, Martin. 12 Jan 2002. Blinded by the light. The Globe and Mail [Toronto], F1.
Alessi, Ryan. 14 Jan 2002. Lighting a path to extinction? Man-made bright nights alter habitats, behavior of nocturnal creatures. Scripps Howard News Service [published in many newspapers nationwide, including San Francisco Chronicle, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette].
Lowy, Joan. 14 Jan 2002. Reclaiming the night sky. Scripps Howard News Service [published in many newspapers nationwide, including San Francisco Chronicle, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette].
Bridges, Andrew. 3 Feb 2002. Artificial light, wildlife studied. Associated Press [published in newspapers and websites nationwide, including Los Angeles Times website, New York Times website, The Santa Fe New Mexican].
Littlejohn, Donna. 22 Feb 2002. Conference to shed light on light. Daily Breeze [Torrance, California], B1.
Carpenter, Tom. 22 Apr 2003. Nocturnal animals beware. The South End [Detroit, Michigan].
CNN Radio Español (radio interview, by telephone, Mar 2002).
National Public Radio, Talk of the Nation (radio interview with Travis Longcore, by telephone, 8 May 2002).
KPCC (Pasadena, California), Talk of the City (radio interview with Catherine Rich and Travis Longcore, in-studio, 20 Dec 2002). (Listen)
BBC Radio 4, The Leading Edge (radio interview with Travis Longcore, in person, 13 Feb 2003).
Guynup, Sharon. 17 Apr 2003. Light pollution taking toll on wildlife, eco-groups say. National Geographic Today.
The ecological effects of artificial night lighting are profound and increasing. Each year, it is estimated that over four million migrating birds are killed in collisions with lighted communications towers in the United States. Dispersing mountain lions miss crucial landscape linkages because they avoid lit areas. Newborn sea turtles are disoriented by lights on their natal beaches and some amphibians congregate around porch lights. Billions of moths and other nocturnal insects are killed each year at lights. Most species depend on light and dark for some portion of their daily or seasonal life cycle. Increased night lighting associated with human civilization disrupts important behaviors and physiological processes with significant ecological consequences.
The scientific research on the effects of night lighting on species and habitats is fragmentary with a few notable exceptions (e.g., sea turtles, bird strikes at tall lighted structures). Other insights about these effects must be gleaned from subsidiary observations in research projects dedicated to other topics. To date, few attempts have been made to present a comprehensive statement on the ecological effects of night lighting.
Research on the consequences of artificial night lighting is critically needed. Architectural lighting of structures, including bridges and large office buildings, is proceeding at a rapid pace. Wildlands are lit by rural development, roads, and increasingly, rural casinos. In response, nonprofit groups and some government agencies are promoting better night lighting in the interest of dark skies for aesthetic reasons, energy efficiency, and to protect views of the night sky for astronomical observation. While these groups are interested in ecological issues, they lack a scientifically rigorous compendium of those effects. We convened a conference in February 2002 of leading scientists to establish the current state of knowledge about the ecological consequences of artificial night lighting.
Abstracts and Program