Artificial light at night desynchronizes strictly seasonal reproduction in a wild mammal Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Change in day length is an important cue for reproductive activation in seasonally breeding animals to ensure that the timing of greatest maternal investment (e.g. lactation in mammals) coincides with favourable environmental conditions (e.g. peak productivity). However, artificial light at night has the potential to interfere with the perception of such natural cues. Following a 5-year study on two populations of wild marsupial mammals exposed to different night-time levels of anthropogenic light, we show that light pollution in urban environments masks seasonal changes in ambient light cues, suppressing melatonin levels and delaying births in the tammar wallaby. These results highlight a previously unappreciated relationship linking artificial light at night with induced changes in mammalian reproductive physiology, and the potential for larger-scale impacts at the population level.

publication date

  • 2015