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Artificial light at night: implications for early life stages development in four temperate freshwater fish species

Abstract

Flora and fauna have both evolved under a natural cycle of light and dark. But especially in urban areas, the night is now increasingly disturbed by artificial light. Many traits and behaviours in fish are triggered by a circadian clock, for example hatching and swim bladder inflation, which predominantly take place at dusk or night. As lighting becomes brighter and extends farther into rural areas, the distinction between day and night becomes increasingly blurred. Therefore, the loss of diurnal trigger by artificial light at night was hypothesized having deleterious effects on these traits and impact fish reproduction. To assess these effects, eggs of four native freshwater fishes, Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis, roach Rutilus rutilus, bleak Alburnus alburnus and chub Leuciscus cephalus, were incubated under two different light conditions: a photoperiod of 14 h light:10 h darkness (LD) and continuous illumination (LL). The time to hatch and swim bladder inflation was recorded. The species showed inconsistent reactions to the light treatments. In roach and bleak, the time to 50% hatch was longer in LL, whereas continuous lighting had an accelerating effect in chub. Incubation in LL elongated the hatching period in perch and roach and, in perch, the onset of darkness seemed to trigger hatching. The swim bladder inflation was significantly promoted by continuous light in chub and bleak but was not affected in roach. In conclusion, nocturnal artificial illumination could have an effect on hatching and initial swim bladder filling by masking the day–night-change and thereby diminish the trigger effect. However, the reactions were species specific and the increase in variation indicated a lack of diurnal triggering, whilst a general deleterious effect of artificial light at night has not been identified on early life stages.

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Brüning, A., Hölker, F. & Wolter, C. Artificial light at night: implications for early life stages development in four temperate freshwater fish species. Aquat Sci 73, 143–152 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-010-0167-2

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Keywords

  • Light pollution
  • Artificial light
  • Hatching
  • Initial swim bladder inflation
  • Freshwater fish