Bats Impacted by Stadium Lighting: How Light Pollution Affects the Environment

First Posted: Jul 24, 2015 07:59 AM EDT

Sports stadiums have lighting that turn night into day. Now, though, scientists have discovered that this lighting can alter patterns of bat species activity and feeding, which may impact the health of the species and have cascading effects on the ecosystem as a whole.

"Increasing light pollution is a major feature of global change that's attributable to humans, and it is a potential threat to biodiversity," said Corrie Schoeman, one of the researchers, in a news release. "Although stadiums are an integral part of the urban and social environment, light pollution from these structures could lead to biotic homogenization, which may ultimately threaten native biodiversity."

In this latest study, the researchers found that urban exploiter bats are more likely to hunt insects attracted to bright light pollution sources, such as stadiums, than urban avoider bats. Exploiter organisms are those that can take advantage of food or resources supplied by humans, while avoider organisms have either a history of conflict with humans or very specific habitat requirements that are unattainable in human settlements.

So what does this mean? An ecosystem where a stadium is placed could be drastically impacted. If avoider bats were in the area before, they may move to a different location. In contrast, exploiter bats would flock to the area and may possibly push out avoider bats.

These particular findings are important to note when it comes to bat conservation. White-nose syndrome, the disease that has swept across the United States and has killed millions of bats, is still a major issue. This means that taking steps to help preserve bat species in any way we can is important for conservation.

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