Light pollution negatively impacts the cricket reproduction cycle, in addition to harming other animals and plants, Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with the Open University of Israel have found.
Using four different types of light, including artificial light at night (ALAN), the researchers monitored dozens of crickets from egg to adult stage. They found that crickets exposed to 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness exhibited cyclic activity rhythms of 24h: they began to chirp when the lights went out and stopped when the lights were turned on again.
Crickets that experienced partial lighting in the dark periods lost their natural rhythms and their synchronization with their environment: 80% followed an individual inner cycle, and 5% lost all rhythm. Crickets exposed to constant light 24/7 developed their own cycles (71%) or lost all rhythm (29%). The findings indicated that an increase of ALAN in the laboratory induces loss of rhythmicity at both the individual and population levels.
The research, which was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and also mentioned in Nature, calls on humans to reduce ALAN as much as possible.
"Our findings on ALAN-induced changes in calling-song patterns may possibly impair female attraction and reproduction in this species," said lead TAU researcher Keren Levy. "Our results are in accord with many other studies demonstrating the severe impacts of low levels of ALAN on nature.
"We ask you, therefore, to help protect our environment and surroundings by turning off the lights in your backyards, on the terrace, in parking lots and wherever possible," she implored. "Help us bring the night and the Milky Way back into our lives and enable nightly coexistence with the creatures around us. "