Light at night linked to decreased hatching success in tadpoles

Stretching the day beyond what nature provides has provided numerous cultural benefits for humans but a new study has linked nighttime illumination caused by people to decreased amphibian reproduction.

The authors of a recent experiment exposed wood frogs to a control and two anthropogenic light conditions: intensified daytime illuminance and artificial light at night. They found that both the intensified daytime illuminance treatments and the light at night treatment decreased hatching success in tadpoles. Tadpoles that were reared in the light at night treatment were larger, less active, more sensitive to road salt pollution and had more parasites.

The light at night on itself might not have too much of a negative effect on its own but wildlife encounter multiple stressors.

Wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) tadpole. Credit: Jessica Hua

“It is critical to understand how humans impact wildlife so that we can make more responsible decisions about how we proceed with activities such as urbanization and construction,” said SUNY Binghamton graduate student Grascen Shidemantle. “Also, it is likely that these effects of light pollution extend beyond just amphibians–the impacts on amphibians may have indirect effects on other organisms that amphibians interact with in their ecosystem.”